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The Virtualization Opportunity (Threat?)

During the recent virtualization party known as VMworld, storage vendors had a surprisingly strong presence at a show that was mainly devoted to virtualizing servers. A host of storage companies introduced new products, and several issued survey results highlighting the challenges that storage managers face as a result of the rush to turn physical servers into virtual ones.

Virtual servers are causing major problems for storage managers, if the surveys from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), and Xiotech Corp. are to be believed. Now, we have to take this information with a grain of salt, since these companies are offering products to solve the problems their surveys are highlighting. But assuming a certain level of honesty in how the surveys were conducted (usually by respected outside groups) and how the results were reported, the data points are probably keeping many of you up at night. And they should.

The most frightening stat: Nearly one third of the 127 people surveyed at VMworld said the backup success rate for their virtual environment was under 60 percent, according to our story on the Symantec survey. Only 52 percent said their success rate was more than 80 percent.

For most businesses, that is unacceptable. Backups are an essential part of any IT or business environment, and failures can't be tolerated when they can result in lost business or lawsuits or other nasty things. It may also help to explain why 41 percent of the respondents said they were using two or more backup systems and why more than half said they were doing two backups -- one for single files and one for full images -- to ensure data protection.

Those results are not completely supported by the survey from Xiotech, where the backup issue only ranked fourth in a list of top concerns. As we reported, the key concerns expressed by 185 virtual server administrators were future capacity planning (32 percent), monitoring storage utilization (28 percent), allocating storage (20 percent), backing up or replicating virtual server storage (17 percent), and migrating data stores from one tier of disk to another (3 percent).

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