From virtual machine management to virtual mobility and all things virtual in between, here are five predictions surrounding the protection of virtual data next year. 1. Virtual systems protected in the cloud As 2013 winds down, we are seeing a greater adoption of virtual technology that enables data and applications to be more mobile and flexible. Your client's mail server is no longer directly tied to a vendor's hardware, and instead, can be moved from machine to machine with little to no downtime. This allows end users to keep data in the fastest and safest way possible. Recent advancements allow data to now be replicated and managed in a cloud. In 2014, resellers will start to see a shift towards virtual data protection, or the ability to replicate virtual hosts to a service provider. This provides many new features that will start to become more mainstream, such as:
- Backup to the cloud
- Decommissioning to the cloud
- Disaster recovery to the cloud
2. Virtual machines in small and midsize companies With the cost of virtual technology decreasing, its use will become routine for those looking for better and more powerful computing. Virtual hosts will become more commonplace for smaller companies as they aim to tackle the same issues as do enterprise customers. 3. Virtual mobility and flexibility With advances in replication and cloud, customers' virtual environments are becoming increasingly mobile. More companies will have data in virtual environments that are available in many places at any given time. For example, a production environment with a data protection solution could be copied and brought up under a new hostname for training purposes on a weekly basis. This test machine could be brought up in any environment at any time and location. 4. Virtual machine management Virtual machines are transient by their very nature. Some are up only for hours or days while others are up for long periods of time. This presents a real problem for system administrators. How do they manage hosts in an environment where it takes only a few minutes to bring up a new server and to bring it down? How does a system administrator keep up with all the changes and decide what data to protect and what data is trash? In 2014, there will be further integration of host management into data protection solutions. For example, when a server is decommissioned today, the host is shut off but the image of the host still resides on a physical disk somewhere in the environment. If the user is not going to restart the host, at some point it needs to be removed from the environment's disk and archived off to some non-production media, such as tape. Resellers will see virtual software start including the "hooks" from the API to better manage users' hosts for long periods of time, and thus, allow data protection vendors enhanced access to the policies that allow better long-term management and protection. A good example of this would be the decommissioning of hosts automatically. When a host is not used for a pre-determined amount of time, VMWare will automatically archive and delete it from the ESX server. 5. Tape will not die Finally, contrary to popular discussion, tape will not die in 2014. The people who say tape is dead are the same people who told us UNIX was dead. Tape is way too portable and inexpensive to ignore. It will continue to grow in size and cost less per megabyte and terabyte. JARRETT POTTS is director of strategic marketing for STORServer, a provider of data backup solutions for midsize businesses. Before joining the STORServer team, Potts spent 15 years working in various capacities for IBM, including Tivoli Storage Manager marketing and technical sales. His experience includes administering IT systems, including desktop support, small networks, backbone infrastructure, storage management, and remote access for corporations and ISPs.