The good news about virtualization among small businesses is that it is growing in popularity (though small businesses are still learning how to adopt it in their organizations). The bad news is that as they implement server virtualization, small businesses are putting their data at risk.
In the 2011 Small Business Virtualization Poll conducted among 658 respondents from 28 countries worldwide, Symantec Corp. found out that most small businesses aren’t taking the most basic steps to secure and protect their virtual environments.
The survey also found that financial benefits were the main reasons for businesses to turn to virtualization. Seventy percent of respondents said their organizations are considering virtualization. 70 percent cited that reduced capital expense would drive their decisions to deploy virtualization while 68 percent said it was reduced operating expense. The ability to use fewer servers for the same number of applications (67 percent) and improved server scalability (65 percent) were found to be other reasons.
Despite the growing interest in virtualization, small businesses have been forced to limit virtualization only to discussions. What could be holding them back? The answer is “Limited IT Skills”. On the other hand, nearly a third of small businesses not planning virtualization blamed it on lack of experience. Out of those surveyed, only 10 percent have deployed virtualized servers and even they are focusing their early-stage efforts on simpler, less critical application areas. Performance (60 percent), backup (56 percent), and security and patch management (56 percent) were cited as top challenges.
The survey also found out a shocking fact; only 15 percent always back up their virtualized servers and 23 percent do it infrequently or not at all. And even worse is the fact that only 40 percent completely secure their data. Budget and staffing issues were cited to be the main hindrances by respondents. Even those who said they are somewhat or completely secure are less secure than they think. The survey found that 78 percent don’t have antivirus on their virtual servers, 48 percent don’t have a firewall, and 74 percent forego endpoint protection.
So, what should small businesses do? Here are a few recommendations for them to make sure they are properly protecting their data and systems:
- Define a virtualization strategy by working with an IT consultant. By assessing your data protection and security needs, build a strategy complete with guidelines. Also determine if moving to these cloud services are right for you. Once you have a strategy in place, develop a plan and follow it.
- Secure your virtual environments by considering what security solutions you need to secure your virtual environment; think firewall, antivirus, and endpoint security. Don’t forget to establish security practices.
- Protect your data with backup solutions for both physical and virtual environments. Want to save space and time? Consider a data deduplication solution.