Server virtualization strengthens IT production environments … but only if the data protection environment is strengthened as well. Fortunately, organizations are prioritizing that effort. At 33% of the IT organizations surveyed by ESG, increasing their use of server virtualization has been earmarked for significant investment in data center modernization efforts for 2018 and beyond. And 31% of the surveyed IT managers told ESG that improving data backup and recovery is a significant investment area for them as well.
But approaches vary. Some organizations modernize their protection environment reactively after discovering their legacy backup solutions have become inadequate. Others are proactive, creating agile new data centers with superior recoverability and availability capabilities.
Navigating the virtualization/protection relationship can be complicated. But still, 82% of IT managers surveyed by ESG said they do appreciate the fact that superior data protection can mean the difference between the success or failure of a server virtualization initiative. Some respondents conceded that inadequate protection solutions had hindered their virtualization progress. Others said having good protection solutions accelerated their virtualization efforts.
Veeam Availability Solution with Cisco UCS
Protecting a virtual environment the right way just may center on using Veeam Availability Suite software with Cisco UCS storage servers for backup, high-speed recovery, data-loss avoidance, and verified protection for applications requiring high availability and scalability:
- Veeam Backup & Replication is a core component of this software suite. It provides fast, reliable backup, replication, and recovery of virtualized and physical workloads within a VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V environment.
- Cisco UCS is a modular, high-density storage server family offering scalable computing and high-capacity local storage suited to the demands of today’s newer applications. It is simple to deploy and excellent as a repository to reduce backup-ingest bottlenecks and provide fast backups using parallel processing.
Qualitative Interviews and Quantitative Tests Reveal Cisco and Veeam’s Shared Defining Traits
ESG conducted interviews with joint Veeam/Cisco customers to get a sense of people’s actual satisfaction levels tied to using Cisco UCS servers with Veeam backup and recovery software. All the customers ESG spoke with ultimately selected the combined solution because it possessed three specific attributes – reliability, performance, and manageability.
In parallel, ESG conducted extensive independent validations of the architecture, which confirmed the user sentiments from the qualitative interviews. The validation testing was specific to Cisco UCS 3260; however, it is reasonable to believe similar results would apply to other UCS models.
The Reliability and Operational Efficiency of Veeam and Cisco UCS—Customer Impressions
The interviewees’ most frequently praised characteristic was reliability. In the early days of virtualization, these companies leveraged their existing storage arrays and high-end server hardware from vendors other than Cisco. As they accelerated their virtualization programs, though, they began to find their legacy protection solutions were unreliable for protecting and recovering VMs. Their non-Cisco hosts were also challenging to maintain.
Interviewees told ESG they eventually determined it would be necessary to deploy Cisco UCS with Veeam to achieve reliable VM protection/recovery. Today, they describe Cisco UCS reliability in terms of longevity, and they contrast Veeam’s reliability starkly with the antiquated products they previously used.
“Using our earlier solution made me question my sanity on a regular basis. And calling that vendor’s support was only slightly less painful than banging my head against a wall. Backing up VMs was difficult, unreliable, and poor from a performance perspective. Upgrading to the newer offering from that vendor was expensive, so instead, we evaluated Veeam and another virtualization backup solution. Veeam outperformed.”
When asked to explain exactly why they call Veeam software “reliable,” interviewees cited:
- Recoveries with consistently positive outcomes in test and production environments.
- Veeam’s ability to automate risk-free “sandboxing” of test backups to ensure recoverability.
- Automated reporting that informs IT and business unit leaders of the successful status of nightly backups and recoveries.
However, their biggest reliability-related proof point centered on Veeam’s ability to recover data when it’s needed most. Interviewees made statements such as:
- “I can’t tell you how many times Veeam has saved my bacon.”
- “I probably have 1/100th the problems I had with my last solution. And most of those I can solve myself. Generally speaking, Veeam just works. We’ve never had a situation where it stopped.”
One-third of Interviewees Recovered from Ransomware Incidents with the Help of the Veeam/Cisco Solution
A full one-third of the interviewees actually recovered from ransomware events by leveraging the combined solution. In these cases, data was not only recoverable, but also, thanks to frequent protection, up to date enough to avoid costly productivity impacts and extortion fees.
Several interviewees mentioned buying more Cisco UCS servers to expand their virtualization initiatives, saying that even the first hosts purchased when they were just getting started still work as advertised.
“The UCS platforms are rock solid. In three and a half years, we haven’t had a single service call. Not one blade has failed or needed replacement. Reliability has been so great that we are expanding our end-of-life plan to five years and easing up on capital budgeting. The Cisco hardware is so reliable, we feel comfortable stretching out this timeframe.”