Tag Archives: backups

Do CIOs Get Backups?

Sitting in a press room listening to a panel at an industry event reaffirmed my skeptical view of management. I dunno, I guess I don’t really expect or want a CIO to know the nitty gritty about how their stuff is backed up, but I didn’t appreciate the responses that any of them made to the question ‘how are you backing up your virtual infrastructure?’.

Each of the CIOs from the keynote session gave weak answers. They would have been better off saying that they have not had a loss of data due to any failed restores rather than just making up stuff.

The first response was given with an accompanying look of confusion as to why the question would even be asked, ‘why, we merely replicate all our VMs, so there is no problem with restoring’. Ouch, where to start with that one. So, you can successfully restore your corrupt or deleted files that successfully replicated to your other site? Maybe there is more involved, maybe he meant to say that replication, on its own, is not a backup, so we use a CDP (continuous data protection) solution to capture all the changes and replicate those offsite. Or, we perform some form of snapshot and replicate that offsite. Without some form of rollback capability, replication may fail to restore you to the state you require. Replication, on its own, is not a backup solution, since any corruption or accidental deletion would simply get replicated.  As well, snapshots, on their own, are not a backup solution, since a loss of the appliance will mean a loss of the snapshots, so replicating those snapshots to another appliance is necessary.

The other response that got my hackles up was, ‘the beautiful thing about VMs is that they are ultimately just a single file, so it is really easy to just back that file up’. So, all of you who are experiencing challenges backing up your virtual environments must be missing out on that fact. They’re just files! They back up super easy! Right? Who says CIOs don’t have a sense of humor? If it were that easy, there would be no third party solutions needed and no agents or APIs for backup products, we would just perform regular file level backups with whatever backup product we have on hand.

I don’t recall the other responses, but they were equally useless. Again, silly to expect a CIO to know how things are done, but I thought that was why they were chosen for the panel, so they could explain how they are doing things with their virtual environments. You could look at it this way, they don’t know because there hasn’t been a problem restoring, so they haven’t needed to dwell on the how. Sure, let’s go with that.