In this continuing series of blog posts we are going to cut through the self-serving and competing claims and examine each of the arguments in favor and against the various techniques used for virtual data protection. You can check out the first post from this series here. Today’s post will discuss virtualizaton backup approaches.

Faith is a set of personal beliefs while dogma is a set of beliefs that are compulsory for a particular sect.  What in the world does dogma, faith, and fact have to do with virtualization and data protection?  In theory, absolutely nothing – most IT professionals strive to be fact-based and largely succeed.  However, what vendors often do is attempt to sway potential buyers through emotion.  Catchy advertising appealing to virtualization lovers or cloud lovers[1] are attempts to sway IT professionals away from facts through an emotional appeal.

I’ve noticed that backup vendors are beginning to do the same thing with respect to the method by which they approach the data protection market.  If a vendor offers only GOS-level protection, then that is offered by the vendor as the end-all be-all solution for everything – and HOS-level protection causes everything from bad breath to global warming.  Conversely, if a vendor offers only HOS-level protection, then that is offered by the vendor as the ultimate panacea – and of course GOS-level protection becomes the root cause of male pattern baldness as well as the national debt.

In this set of blog posts, we’re going to explore the primary advantages and disadvantages of GOS-level protection versus HOS-level protection.  We’re going to do so without the hype and without the dogma by focusing on the fact-based capabilities of each.

Before we begin to analyze capabilities in detail, let’s quickly discuss the trend toward using the terms “agent-based” and “agentless” data protection.  The terms “agent-based” and “agentless” with respect to virtual data protection is relatively meaningless despite the incredible number of white papers, e-books, podcasts, and keynote speeches expounding on the evils or one and the beneficence of another.  Why?  The reason is because most modern virtualization protection uses agents of some kind to protect virtual environments.

A backup agent is software that resides within the virtual machine (the GOS) that helps protect the virtual machine.  Both GOS- and HOS-level protection schemes tend to use backup agents to differing degrees.  As we’ve discussed previously, GOS-level protection treats each virtual machine as if it were a physical machine – thus the backup agent in GOS-level protection is completely and utterly responsible for backing up all of the data.   However, in HOS-level protection the backup agent doesn’t work alone but rather in concert with the GOS-level protection software to protect the virtual machine.

So when you see the terms agent-based and agentless, just substitute GOS-level protection and HOS-level protection for those terms and you’ll be one step ahead of getting past industry jargon and to the unvarnished truth.

This discussion will continue over the next few blog posts and will cover many topics including ease of use, automation & inclusion, heterogeneity, and much more.

What are some of the topics comparing GOS-level protection to HOS-level protection would you like to read about over the next few posts? Leave us a comment with your questions to be included in next week’s continuation of this series.


[1] I always wanted to see a backup vendor create a marketing campaign targeted to puppy lovers; to me, it makes as much sense as most advertising in our space.