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Do we still need VM-specific backup tools? [video]

This is one of the big questions in 2016 (and each of the past few years as well).

Have the “traditional” unified data protection solutions caught up in reliability and agility to the degree that the need for “point products” that only protect VMs are no longer necessary? To help answer the question, I’ve recorded a short video:

The “unified vs. specific” question is interesting, but the real answer is that we need data protection that is contextually-aware and integration-ready with multiple hypervisors, combined with utilizing the latest APIs to ensure reliable protection, and innovation that delivers rapid and agile recovery without first restoring.

Combine those traits with a growing influence by vAdmins and IT operations folks over data protection, instead of a single all-powerful backup administrator, and it’s easy to see how the toolsets of many organizations continue to fragment around workload‑specific data protection initiatives.

ESG watches and comments on VM protection and recovery considerations on a very regular basis:

We recently started our most expansive coverage of the topic yet — 2016 Trends in Protecting Highly Virtualized Environments — in support of VMworld 2016 and Microsoft Ignite 2016, including which hypervisor(s), what DP methods (backup/replication/snapshots), and who (vAdmin/backupadmin) are driving virtualization protection and recovery solutions. It looks like it’ll be a very interesting year.

As always, thanks for watching.

Video transcript:

Woman: The following is an ESG video blog.

Jason: Hi. I’m Jason Buffington. I’m the Senior Analyst at ESG covering data protection. I’ve been in data protection for more than 25 years and certainly one of the most impactful transformations over that time has been server virtualization. As we’ve seen in every other major platform shifts, data protection is rarely an initial part of the new platform. And so it takes early innovator startups to figure out how to protect that new platform while industry-leading unified solutions tend to lag behind.

This was certainly true for VM backups where it seemed like forever before VMware delivered vSphere APIs for data protection, VADP. Until those stabilized, you really couldn’t adequately protect a highly virtualized environment with legacy approaches. But today, those APIs are current and almost everybody really can adequately protect VMs as long as you stay current with whatever your backup software is. Do we still need VM-specific data protection mechanisms, or has that need passed and we can all go back to unified solutions until the next disruptive platform shift?

In 2015, ESG asked data protection professionals whether they currently used a VM-specific data protection tool or a unified solution that protects both physical and virtual machines. Sixty-four percent of organizations use a unified solution for protecting physical and virtual machines, while 36% of us use a VM-specific solution. But that isn’t the whole story. When we dig into what they’re using and what do they anticipate using in the future, we see some really interesting shifts. Twenty-five percent, one in four organizations use a unified solution and they like it. Thirty one percent, nearly a third, use a unified solution today, but they anticipate moving to a VM-specific solution in the future. Nine percent, not quite 1 in 10, use a VM-specific solution and they plan on keeping it while another 17% use a VM-specific solution, but they’re planning on switching to a unified approach. Again, more folks changing than staying.

Another way to look at this is to say that only a third, 34%, are planning on staying with whichever method they’re currently using today, meanwhile nearly half of folks plan on switching from one approach to the other. And then there’s the 18% of organizations, they’re open to either. So let’s map this trend over time. When ESG asked this question in 2013, about three fourths of you used a unified solution, while 27% used a VM-specific, about a three to one ratio. In 2015, it’s about a two to one ratio with 64% using unified approach, 36% VM-specific. Fast forward two years, we asked folks what they anticipated doing in 2017, it’s nearly even. Forty-two percent plan on a unified solution, 40% using VM-specific and then the 18% that’s undecided. But even if only 18% went with a unified solution, they’d be at 60, it’s still a lot of share. But it’s much more likely that around summer 2016, those lines will cross and more folks will be using VM-specific technologies instead of unified solutions for protecting and recovering their VMs.

2016 promises to be interesting. As mentioned earlier, this could be the year that VM-specific becomes the majority method, but the unified vendors could really shift this momentum. Here is how.

Functionality wise. With hypervisor APIs today, everyone can get a good backup. That isn’t the goal line anymore. The real question is, how fast is your restore? Followed by, how granular is that restore and where can I restore to? Like the cloud. If you don’t have good answers for those questions in 2016, then you really are the definition of legacy.

Upgrades. One of the big reasons that larger enterprises are moving towards VM-specific solutions is because their backup methods are intentionally laggards. They’re staying a version or more behind in order to have less bugs in the backup product. And as such, the older backup solution really isn’t as adequate for VM backups. So unified vendors, you got to drive those upgrades. You need better marketing, more in-place upgrade technology, better compelling features to ensure that your customers stay current.

Marketing. You don’t have to fragment your whole content strategy but if your unified product can stand toe to toe with a VM-specific product, then some percentage of your marketing should articulate and demonstrate and prove that. This is such an interesting topic.

ESG will be kicking off a new research project on the trends in protecting highly virtualized environments in early 2016, including VMware, Hyper-V and OpenStack strategies as well as how the methods backup, snapshots, replication might be affected during private, hybrid, and public cloud implementations. You can take a look at our 2013 protection of private clouds and our 2015 virtualization protection reports to get an idea what we’re looking at next. I’m Jason Buffington for ESG. Thanks for watching.

[Originally blogged via ESG’s Technical]

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