Run virtual machines from backup without first restoring them

We are seeing some backup software providers offer the ability to run a virtual machine directly from the backup copy without restoring it first. How common is this functionality today? It seems like it has a lot of potential from a disaster recovery standpoint.

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Having the ability to mount and run a virtual server directly from the backup without first restoring it is still a relatively new capability. As such, this ability is far from being a standard feature that exists in all backup products.

Having the ability to instantly mount and use a backup copy of a virtual machine could drastically improve disaster recovery times. In order to truly be effective, however, backup replicas need to exist. Otherwise, a backup copy that has been mounted in an emergency situation could become a single point of failure.

Does virtual server backup make backup reporting and backup verification more critical?

In some ways yes, virtualization can complicate backup reporting. This is due primarily to the fact that virtual machines are often temporary in nature and that they can be easily moved from one host to another. As such, the backup set can change from one day to the next, which could potentially make the backup reports a little bit difficult to follow at times. However, if guest-level backups are being performed then backup reporting should work the same way that it does in a physical server environment.

This was first published in May 2012

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