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Virtualization has gone mainstream and so have the problems it brings. In a survey conducted by Veeam, a data management and protection firm, 500 organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France were surveyed. The report, based on survey responses, reveals how managers really feel about the impact of virtualization on data protection strategies.

The survey, conducted online in August 2010, was completed with 500 companies who each employ 1,000 or more people and are representatives of different industry branches (manufacturing -- 28%, financial services -- 24%, retail, distribution & transport -- 22%, and other commercial -- 26%). The results indicate how the adoption of virtualization is going and what issues arise with data protection, mainly in the area of backup and recovery.

The Adoption Process of Virtualization in Enterprises

Virtualization was a new technology about a decade ago. Now it has gone mainstream. According to the findings, “Enterprises are virtualizing an average of 42% of their datacenter/server estates today and expect that this will grow to 63% in the next two years.” Other surveys report similar figures.

In fact, Gartner's report indicates that 80% of enterprises have a virtualization program in place but only 25% of the workload is in virtualized servers with a tendency to increase both the number and the loads. In any case, virtualization is conquering new territories in the enterprise and now it is not an exception to find mission-critical enterprise applications running on a virtualized platform.

As for the shares of the different vendors, no surprises here either. VMware vSphere holds the lion's share with 73%, while the two closest rivals -- Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix Xen -- have come in with 28% and 27%, respectively.

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The Shares of Major Virtualization Vendors

Your Content Is Our Data, Virtualized at That

One of the reasons why virtualization hasn't reached even more coverage yet is that it poses unique challenges -- in other words, in addition to the risks for your content and data you face in a nonvirtualized environment, now you have some virtualization-specific risks to watch for.

Of course, this doesn't mean that when you hear your hosting provider blame the loss of your valuable content upon virtualization, you should fall for that excuse. Poorly administered systems –- no matter if they are virtualized or not -- are prone to data loss but certainly you can't blame this on virtualization.

Virtualization introduces a single point of failure -- the hypervisor -- but as the study shows, many data loss disasters stem elsewhere. 43% of the respondents say that in the past two years they have experienced data loss in one form or another and this isn't cheap. On average, for the enterprises in the survey, the cost of data loss was more than US$ 400,000 a year.

One of the reasons why virtualization causes problems in the enterprise is that companies use the same backup and recovery tools they use for nonvirtualized configurations. Add to this the fact that only 29% of the respondents say they backup 100% of their virtualized machines, and it becomes no wonder that when disaster strikes, everybody cries virtualization is to blame.