Users who are employing virtualised servers could be storing up problems. Data backups in these sort of set-ups are often ineffective and inefficient, according to research carried out by Symantec.

The company surveyed 127 randomly selected VMworld attendees and found that 30 percent reported backup success rates of less than 60 percent when dealing with virtual servers. About 41percent said they use at least two backup products for physical and virtual servers.

This "tool proliferation" increases management complexity, despite the fact that virtualisation's key goals include simplification and consolidation, said Jason Fisher, a product management director at Symantec.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported that the management of different tools for physical and virtual platforms is their biggest challenge "in providing high availability and disaster recovery for mission-critical applications in virtual servers," Symantec said.

Symantec hired Applied Research to conduct the survey and used the results to highlight the capabilities of its Backup Exec product line.

The survey did not reveal why backup success rates were so low with virtual servers. But products designed to back up physical boxes often don't translate well to virtual machines, Fisher said.

In addition to elevated failure rates, the survey showed users taking an inefficient approach to backing up data on virtual machines. About 57 percent back up data twice - once for full system recovery and once for file and folder recovery. Nearly half the survey respondents are not using de-duplication for data on virtual machines, missing an opportunity to save lots of storage space.

Symantec officials said their Backup Exec products could back up workloads on both physical and virtual machines, and minimise duplicate backups.