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Why You Should Include Virtualization in Your Business Continuity Plan

If a disaster struck your business tomorrow, would you be ready?

If you have a strong, comprehensive business continuity plan and strategy in place, then the answer should be yes.

If not, then you could be in for a rude awakening should a disastrous event occur.

Keep reading to learn the importance of a strong business continuity plan that includes virtualization to help your business systems recover quickly and efficiently from disaster.

What Is A Business Continuity Plan and Why Should You Have One?

A business continuity plan is a carefully crafted plan developed to help ensure your business processes are able to continue in the event of an emergency or disaster.

This could include any situation where your business would be unable to operate under normal conditions, such as a:

  • Cyber Attack / Ransomware
  • Fire
  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Tornado
  • Pandemic
  • Power or energy disruption
  • Communications, transportation, safety, or service sector failure

All business continuity strategies should include plans, measures, and arrangements to ensure your business is able to continue delivering critical services and products and recover data and digital assets.

Another important strategy that should be included in your business continuity plan is virtualization.

What Is a Virtualization?

The term virtualization refers to the process of running a virtual instance of a computer system separated from the actual hardware. Essentially, virtualization uses software to simulate hardware functionality in order to create a virtual system.

Most often, this means simultaneously running multiple operating systems on a single computer system.

Why Is It Beneficial?

One of the most significant benefits of virtualization is the impact it has on business continuity.

When implementing a disaster recovery plan with a virtual system, the process can be simplified by creating and storing images of the machines.

So, rather than rebuilding complex systems and manipulating vast amounts of data,  the recovery process can be simplified: all you need to do is save an image of the system, overwrite the old one, and ensure that everything is properly stored in the event that a disaster occurs.

Here are some additional benefits of virtualization:

  1. Server Infrastructure

Moving everything over to a virtualized environment means server resources are used more efficiently, allowing the capacity of existing servers to be better utilized.

  1. Energy Conservation 

With fewer servers allocated for business processes, less of your operational budget has to be dedicated to energy costs.

  1. Ease of Management

With virtualization, hardware upgrades can be made from a single point, rather than repeating the upgrade process for each individual machine.

  1. Reduced Backup and Recovery Time 

Backups and recovery with virtual machines are significantly less time-consuming than with individual machines, particularly in the event of a hardware failure.

  1. Legacy Applications 

In the event that you have older applications that require older versions of operating systems or are incompatible with newer software, this can be taken care of by allocating a virtual machine to just those tasks.

Types of Virtualization

Here are some examples of the most common virtualization methods.

Application Virtualization

With this method, applications are virtualized and delivered from a server to the end user’s device (e.g. laptops, smartphones, and tablets).

This means users are able to gain access to certain applications right from their device – provided there is an Internet connection – without the need to log into their computers at work.

Desktop Virtualization

Similar to application virtualization, desktop virtualization separates your desktop from your physical computing device and configures it as a “virtual desktop infrastructure” (VDI). This allows users to access all their personal files and applications on any computer so they can work from anywhere without the need to bring their work computer.

Hardware Virtualization

This is the most common type of virtualization and uses a virtual machine manager (VM) called the “hypervisor” to create virtual versions of computers and operating systems.

The virtual versions are then consolidated into one large physical server, allowing the hardware resources to be utilized more efficiently and enabling users to run different operating systems on the same machine simultaneously.

Network Virtualization

Network virtualization merges all physical networking equipment into just one software-based resource.

This distributes all available bandwidth into several independent channels, each of which is assigned to servers and devices in real-time.

Storage Virtualization

Storage virtualization combines the contents of your physical hard drives into one single cluster and is incredibly beneficial when it comes to disaster recovery.

The reason it is often so helpful is that the virtually stored data can be easily replicated and transferred to another location.

Plus, by compiling all your data storage into a centralized system, there are fewer hassles and costs from managing multiple storage devices.

What is IDS DataGuard?

Virtualization and business continuity ties in closely with IDS DataGuard, a comprehensive hybrid cloud-provisioned backup, recovery, and business continuity solution from IDS.

With DataGuard, IDS will backup all your data to the cloud and off-site data centres, while also creating a virtual server in the event that the device is damaged. This ensures business continuity with minimal data loss and downtime.

4 Ways to Evaluate Virtual Environments and Business Continuity

When evaluating your internal infrastructure, there are several key areas where you need to focus on. They include:

  • High availability – How does your internal infrastructure fit within your organization’s existing business practices and software packages? While solutions deliver uptime 99 percent of the time, you should be striving for 99.9 percent of the time and up. So, the rule of thumb is, for every “9” an IT team can achieve when it comes to uptime, the more you can reduce downtime and increase profitability.
  • Performance – Are your hosts provisioned properly and do they have adequate connectivity?
  • Storage – Do you have enough storage space and input/output operations per second (IOPS) to handle backups and peak load for future growth of your company?
  • Storage connectivity– Have you tested your multipath IO and is it foolproof?
  • Monitoring and alerting– How will you know if a problem arises? If your storage array loses a disk, would you be able to tell?

Other Tips for Ensuring Success with Virtualization

Virtual Infrastructure Configuration

In some cases, when virtual infrastructure isn’t properly configured, businesses aren’t able to reap the benefits of virtualization, such as high availability, and better performance and utilization of hardware.

This often results in a great deal of headaches caused by intermittent issues and difficulty pinpointing performance problems, leading to wasted helpdesk time and lost revenue due to poor productivity.

Establishing a Baseline

Having an independent analysis carried out on your network, servers, and storage is highly important. If this has already been taken care of, periodic internal or external audits should also be done.

Check that the Backups Are Working

Don’t fall victim to the “it’s working until it isn’t” mentality.

Be sure you have a team doing regular checks that your backups are in fact working, to avoid a potential data loss disaster from occurring.

The cost of having this additional oversight, along with dedicated infrastructure expertise, is minimal compared to the devastating impact that could happen should an incident occur.

Integrating virtualization into your business continuity strategy can be a complicated and confusing process without proper assistance. For more information about making the transition to virtual environments and ensuring your data and systems remain secure, contact the experts at IDS Systems.