How to (and why) restore to a virtual machine

by | Jan 13, 2017

How can my business restore a virtual machine from backup?

If you’ve ever had to rely on technology, you know that sometimes it just stops working. No warning. No guarantee of recovery. No nothing. That’s one of the most important reasons for keeping an up-to-date backup. And, a stellar business continuity plan.

When a computer or entire infrastructure goes down, the disruption can be mitigated by restoring to a cloud-based virtual machine. Like magic, your business operations can continue—without interruption—from the VM.

However, in order for the virtual machine to provide an effective backup plan, your backup has to be up to date at all times. The virtual machine will pick up the state of affairs just as it was before the failure. When you have the right business continuity solution in place, this happens seamlessly—mitigating downtime and client disruption.

What exactly is virtualization? And why it is necessary.

A virtual machine is software that acts just like a separate computer, but runs on a server. One server can run multiple VMs if it has enough power.

If you have a good continuity plan, your business’ critical online systems will be backed up and quickly restored virtually. This serves two purposes: 1) if computers or entire infrastructures were to ever fail, you’ll be able to start them up again as VMs within seconds with little or no data loss. 2) There is redundancy and added security in keeping data offsite, away from any harm that may impact a physical location.

The Datto SIRIS 3 offers impressive backup and disaster recovery capabilities.  It allows for an almost instantaneous failover to a VM, literally restoring entire infrastructures in as few as six seconds. Datto also offers a similar solution for smaller businesses in its ALTO models.

How does Datto failover to a VM?

To be ready to switch to a virtual machine, you need a standby service running a virtualization platform. The process of the Datto restore to VMWare creates a VMDK (virtual memory disk) file, which contains everything from the original system — software, data, and user information. The VMWare hypervisor software “boots up” the VMDK, which runs just like the original machine.

How do you prepare for a fast failover?

Internally, servers should be monitored regularly to ensure that when there is a critical error, the switchover to a VM will happen quickly. That said, the Datto provides an invaluable safety net. While the Datto backup keeps and uploads the server’s latest data on an ongoing basis, it also provides a notification of any error when it goes to take the next backup. If the server stops responding, the Datto restore as a VM happens before you even notice there’s a problem. And, an up-to-date VMDK is created and launched without any loss of continuity.

Why is this all important?

Any amount of downtime is bad for a business’s revenue and reputation. Having a website offline, contracted data services not working, internal information not available, or email not coming in for even half an hour can spell serious trouble—and lots of money.

Losing data when a machine fails is even worse. If a server comes back up, but it has lost transactions because the backup wasn’t fully up to date, serious work will be necessary to reconstruct them.

A business continuity solution needs to avoid both data loss and downtime, while maintaining security through the backup and failover process.

Contact us for more information about business continuity solutions for your business.

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Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.

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