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BW Businessworld

Need For Space Management

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According to a survey by Symantec, small businesses are very interested in utilising virtualisation technology — the process of creating a virtual environment for the regular IT infrastructure such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources — and witnessing a wide range of potential benefits.Ajay Goel, MD, India & SAARC, Symantec says "while the majority of small businesses have shown an interest in virtualisation technology, they are still in the early stages of adoption".  He adds that the survey reveals that only eight per cent have already implemented virtualisation.The study reveals that about 72 per cent of small businesses across the Asia Pacific Japan (APJ) region are at least considering virtualisation.In a related finding, businesses are far more comfortable with web and database management applications than with more critical applications such as accounting, ERP and CRM software. This indicates that while organisations are eager to see the benefits of virtualization, they are still reluctant to risk placing business-critical apps into a virtualised framework.

In his storage and back-up predictions for Symantec in 2012, Vijay Mhaskar, VP, Information Management Group believes that, "companies that adopt a silo approach will be laggard in the Virtual Machine adoption race. Their Return on Investment for virtualisation will continue to decrease as operational costs of running separate environments slow the ability of organisations to convert from physical to virtual. The days that companies could afford separate storage management and backup software for virtual and physical servers are numbered."

Data Protection Woes
Despite the enthusiasm small businesses are showing, many of them are failing to sufficiently protect the information they place into the virtualised environment. Only 13 per cent perform regular backups on virtualised servers and 24 per cent back up infrequently or not at all.More than half of the organisations in the survey cited budgetary issues as the reason for not performing regular backups, with some blaming staffing issues.

Still, the backup market is growing fast. Backup integrated Virtual Machine protection, deduplication, snapshot management, appliances and some key changes to the operating model are driving the change. "What used to be considered a mature and slow growth market is putting up some impressive numbers." adds Mhaskar.Organisations that rely on snapshots rather than backup and don't implement deduplication or granular recovery technology for virtual environments will see backup and recovery windows increase.

However, new technologies introduced by vendors will change the way data protection is done, saving organisations millions of dollars each year.

Virtualisation, with the various benefits it has to offer is being seen amongst SMBs, as a cost effective technology that enhances their business efficiency. In fact, 72 per cent of the respondents from APJ in the Symantec 2011 Small Business Virtualization Poll said that, their organisations are considering virtualisation. A majority of the respondents cited cost efficiencies and disaster-recovery readiness as benefits they're hoping to gain from adoption of it.

Adopting and maintaining virtualisation in an organisation's IT infrastructure requires careful planning, in order to maintain security while also improving efficiency. The following recommendations can help small businesses achieve the maximum benefits of virtualisation:

Define a virtualisation strategy:
  Work with an IT consultant to develop a strategy.  Proactively develop guidelines and assess your data protection and security needs.  Determine if moving to these cloud services are right for you.  Once you have a strategy, develop a plan and stick to it.

Secure your virtual environments:
  Consider what security solutions you need to secure your virtual environment, including a firewall, antivirus, and endpoint security.  Make sure you have established security practices as an additional layer of protection.

Protect your data:
  Follow a simplified approach to backup.  Implement a solution that protects both physical and virtual environments.  Consider a data deduplication solution to save space and time.