Approximately 80 percent of the information technology infrastructure at Northwestern University is virtualized. Nearly 1,000 virtual machines (VMs) run a variety of applications and workloads, including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server,
Exchange, web servers and Blackboard, an online course management system.In the early days of Northwestern’s virtualization initiative, the university’s IT Cyberinfrastructure team performed traditional file-based backups on VMs with the same product used for backing up physical servers. The critical drawback was that backups were not completing within the allotted backup window.
“Our backup process was simply taking too long and preventing us from completing a full, daily backup on every VM,” said John Walsh, Manager of Processing and Information Platform Services, Information Technology for Northwestern University Information Technology, Cyberinfrastructure. “Restoring VMs was a challenge too, requiring us to provision and manually restore the data back to each VM. From a risk management perspective, if we had ever found ourselves in a disaster situation, it could have been days before getting our mission-critical apps fully operational.”
Northwestern University Information Technology considered several virtualizationspecific