Virtualization technology provides a lot of promise related to implementing backups and  managing disaster recovery environments.  For example, since VMs are self-contained, they can be easily moved or copied to other servers.  Administrators can use a variety of methods to keep multiple VMs synchronized (see my Backup / DR category for some articles on the topic).  But, in the real world, the problem becomes implementation.  With most virtualization platforms, you’ll either need to invest in additional (and often, costly) tools, or you’ll need to roll your own.

For the latter approach, Frane Borozan has created a physical2virtual.backup tutorial that walks through the major steps of setting up backups and DR for VMware environments.  From the site’s home page:

I will here describe whole process of implementation of virtual servers into your current network infrastructure. With virtualization you will get virtual failover servers and you will have fresh replica of all of your important data, so in case main servers failure you will have fast disaster recovery plan that just works. Of course you can have clusters in your network infrastructure but what is the cost of managing clusters and paying licenses for that expensive kind on in stable software.

There are always savings into hardware and power consumption, imagine now you need to have one physical for every server you own if you want to have good disaster recovery plan, with this you can have dozen of backups on the same server and you will run only backup that is needed in case of the disaster.

He also provides scripts and batch file commands for automating the process (a huge time-saver for those that want to use this approach).  Perhaps the best thing about the Tutorial is that it’s really practical.  It doesn’t assume you’ll be making multi-million-dollar investments in proprietary hardware and software.  Rather, it helps you utilize your standard infrastructure – multi-homed servers and Gb Ethernet switches. 

Good luck, and feel free to leave comments if you have any feedback on the approach!