Virtually perfect? Back-up and recovery strategies for a brave new virtual world: with the wave of virtualisation sweeping across the business IT infrastructure, Mark Galpin, Product Marketing Manager of Quantum, encourages IT managers to embrace the advantages of virtualisation after fully considering the impact on the back-up and recovery infrastructure.

Author:Galpin, Mark
Position:Storage Expo 2008

There can be no doubt that virtualisation is the technology trend of the moment.

Google the term and more than 30m links offering expertise in the area will appear in milliseconds--and this is not just more technology hype. The virtualisation trend is having an impact on the business IT landscape. Drivers for virtualisation range from hardware, power and space savings through to increased manageability and data protection. Analyst group Forrester reports that 23 per cent of European firms are today using server virtualisation, and an additional 12 per cent are piloting the process as a means of reducing costs. IDC also predicts that the total number of virtualised servers shipped will rise to 15 per cent in 2010, compared to 5 per cent in 2005. And with the recent flotation of virtualisation leader VMware at a market value of 9 billion [pounds sterling], many investors as well as IT experts are betting their business on this trend becoming accepted everyday best practice.

Virtualisation brings benefits

Virtualisation has brought us new ways of doing things from managing desktop operating systems to consolidating servers. What's also interesting is that virtualisation has become a conceptual issue--a way to deconstruct fixed and relatively inflexible architectures and reassemble them into dynamic, flexible and scalable infrastructures.

Today's powerful x86 computer hardware was originally designed to run only a single operating system and a single application, but virtualisation breaks that bond, making it possible to run multiple operating systems and multiple applications on the same computer at the same time, increasing the utilisation and flexibility of hardware. In essence, virtualisation lets you transform hardware into software to create a fully functional virtual machine that can run its own operating system and applications just like a "real" computer.

Multiple virtual machines share hardware resources without interfering with each other so that you can safely run several operating systems and applications at the same time on a single computer.

The VMware approach to virtualisation inserts a thin layer of software directly on the computer hardware or on a host operating system. This software layer creates virtual machines and contains a virtual machine monitor or "hypervisor" that allocates hardware resources dynamically and transparently so that multiple operating systems can run concurrently on a single physical computer without...

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