Virtual Machine – why it is important to back it up?

Every day, more and more data is created. Such that the quantity of data created daily is astonishing. Metallic affirms that by 2025, about 463 exabytes of data will be created daily. More-so, users want to have uninterrupted accessibility and availability to their data. This is where virtual machine backup comes in handy. When virtual machine backup is absent, organisations are at risk of data loss and application failure due to planned and random interruptions.

Furthermore, several businesses would experience setbacks and lose vital data and work time due to prolonged disruption and disaster recovery periods. But a virtual machine backup takes care of these problems. With a virtual backup solution in place, businesses keep running and witness a   lesser recovery time during downtimes, outages, data damage, or corruption. Learn more about what is virtualization? what is a virtual machine? and why is it important to back it up?

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is the process of operating a virtual model of a computer system in a layer that is abstract from the hardware. Usually, the term connotes running several operating systems concurrently on a single computer system. The applications operating on a virtualized machine seem to possess their specific machine that entails the operating system, libraries, and other programs that are peculiar to the guest systems. Also, these virtualized machines are not linked to the host operating system which resides below them.

See virtualization as the establishment of the virtual version of a particular entity, such as a desktop, storage device, operating system, server, or any computer resource. According to Javapoint, virtualization is a technique that allows sharing of a single rendition of a particular resource among several organisations. It achieves this by assigning logical names to physical storage units and attaching pointers to the physical resources when needed.

The essence of virtualization differs for several organisations. For desktop users, virtualization is commonly used to run applications on different operating systems without switching between computers or rebooting the system. For administrative purposes, virtualization offers the ability to operate different resources such that it offers a means to divide a large system into smaller categories. This enables the server to run more efficiently on multiple users’ systems or applications. Furthermore, virtualization permits segregation. This is meant to protect the programs in a virtual machine from processes occurring in another virtual machine on the same host.

Establishing a virtual machine over an existing operating system and hardware is regarded as hardware virtualization. A virtual machine sets up an environment that is logically segregated from the fundamental hardware. In this case, the machine that serves as the foundation for the virtual machine is the Host Machine, while the created virtual machine is the Guest Machine.

Types of Virtualization

  • Hardware Virtualization

Hardware virtualization is established when machine software or virtual machine manager is directly integrated into the hardware system. The hypervisor serves to direct and monitor the system’s processor, memory, and other hardware entities.

Upon successful virtualization of the hardware system, users can install several operating systems on the system and operate several applications on the operating system.

Hardware virtualization is primarily performed for the server platforms. This is because overseeing virtual machines is relatively easier than a physical server.

  • Network Virtualization

Network virtualization allows applications to operate on virtual networks by replicating a physical network. So it looks like the applications are running on a physical network offering greater functional benefits. Network virtualization offers connected workloads to several logical networking devices such as logical ports, firewalls, routers, VPNs, etc.

  • Server Virtualization

Server virtualization is established when a virtual machine manager or software is directly integrated into the server system. Server virtualization is carried out because one physical server can be grouped into multiple servers based on demands and the need to balance the load.

  • Desktop Virtualization

Desktop virtualization allows desktops to be deployed as managed services, allowing IT organisations to adapt faster to dynamic workplace demands and impromptu challenges. Virtualized desktops and applications can be effortlessly delivered to branch offices, offshore employees, as well as mobile workers using several desktop devices.

What Is A Virtual Machine?

By comparison, a virtual machine is almost the same as the common physical computer we use daily ( Laptop, Smartphone, etc.)  A virtual machine possesses a CPU, disks for file storage, memory, the ability to connect to the internet, etc. The hardware components are the main feature that distinguishes the common physical computer from virtual machines. The parts that make up a common computer are physical and solid, while virtual machines are often considered software-oriented computers that reside in physical servers in the form of codes.

A virtual machine can be likened to a virtual workspace that functions as a virtual computer system with its brainbox, network interface, memory, and storage established on a physical hardware system either within the premises or at another site. Virtual Machine uses software called hypervisor that distinguishes the machine’s resources from the hardware resources so they can be effective for the virtual machine.

Physical machines that use hypervisors are referred to as Host Computers, Host Machines, or Host Operating systems. Meanwhile, virtual machines that utilise their resources are regarded as  Guests, Guest Computers, Guest Machines, Or Guest Operating systems. The hypervisor perceives the computer resources as a pool of resources that can be seamlessly transferred to a new virtual machine or existing guests. Virtual machines can function singly or in conjunction with other virtual machines that exist on particular hardware, and they can be transferred between host servers contingent upon the demands.

What is Virtual Machine Backup?

Virtual Machine Backup is a data protection strategy for virtual machines that perform the same operations as customary backup solutions that are used by physical servers. Virtual applications can perform full backups of files in a virtual machine. These applications can also perform incremental and virtual backups. Virtual machine backups need to run smoothly and without interruption. This way, they can secure virtual machine files and configurations and frequently change data. Furthermore, virtual machine backup software can make use of improvement capabilities made available by the hypervisor. This allows for swift backups with a mitigated impact on the virtual machine.

In plain terms, virtual machine backup is the process of backing up virtual machines operating in an enterprise workstation. Virtual machines function as guests on hypervisors that imitate a computer system and enable several virtual machines to interact by sharing a physical host hardware system. According to Metallic, the most commonly used hypervisors are VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V. Other available hypervisors, such as cloud-based virtual machines, are also used.

With the increasing dependence on virtualization, virtual machines have become an integral and essential part of an enterprise IT workstation. This is because business databases, applications, and even encased workloads operate on virtual machines and produce large amounts of data that must be protected via an excellent protection solution. The applications that permit organisations to back up and recover the entire files that make up virtual machines are called virtual machine backup software.

Virtual Machine Backup Process

Just like physical server backups, virtual machine backup protects the entire items that are related to a virtual machine. Virtual Machine Backups can be carried out in different ways. It could be through a backup agent incorporated into the guest operating system or by integrating a hypervisor that enables backups without any agent. Customers need to be conversant with the stages to ensure an accurate and effective virtual machine backup.

  • Discovery – Customers should recognise and discover the virtual machines in their environment.
  • Client Computer Entry – Users create unique client customer entries for each virtual machine.
  • Select Virtual Machines for Backup- Ascertain the virtual machines that will be secured and backed up by virtual server agents.
  • Associated Disks – Determine the disks that are associated with the virtual machines selected for backup.
  • Backup Streams – Several proxies are assigned to backup sequences in a round-robin pattern.
  • Download Data – The virtual server agents are used to obtain the backup data.
  • Snapshots – Hypervisors are used to develop virtual machine snapshots.
  • Backup – The backup process is completed by saving a copy of the data to an alternate location.

Importance of Virtual Machine Backup

Digital data and digital applications drive business growth. Safeguarding essential business workloads and their related virtual machines and data is essential for a business to thrive. Data protection confers a safety shield against data corruption or loss.

The importance of virtual machines also extends to the protection of virtual machines, which are the power station of modern IT systems. However, this is often belittled by legacy backup solutions. When virtual machines are backed up, it ensures that data configuration and file safety are done easily. Virtual machine backup also enables quick data recovery after downtimes. Modern virtual backup software provides absolute virtual machine protection and bolsters business resiliency.

Furthermore, virtual machine backup allows flexibility. Virtual machines can be easily deployed in specific environments, compared to setting up and maintaining physical appliances. Also, when virtual appliances can incorporate management tools to produce a well-organized system. Moreover, virtual machine backup confers a time-to-deployment advantage when implementing a virtual appliance. This is because virtual machine backup implements and configures systems more quickly than traditional backups.

Virtual Machine backup also ensures improved productivity. This is because using fewer physical resources implies that lesser time will be spent managing and maintaining system servers. Consequently, tasks will be done in a relatively lesser period compared to when they’re done in a physical environment. This allows the staff to focus on more productive and prioritised tasks. When virtual machine backups are implemented, the overall cost of running a business is reduced. This is because virtual machine backup reduces the number of hardware servers needed in a company. As a result, it reduces the general cost of purchasing and maintaining large hardware units.

Storware Backup and Recovery supports the widest selection of open and commercial hypervisors and can work as an independent backup island or as a proxy for legacy backup systems. Get the free Trial or contact us if you are interested in a one-on-one demo. Remember that business productivity is ensured when virtualization and virtual machine backup are in place in an organisation.

Paweł Mączka Photo

text written by:

Pawel Maczka, CTO at Storware