Server virtualisation is increasingly being used not merely to consolidate servers, but to make backups easier, management software company Vizioncore has claimed.

This is thanks to tools that enable an entire virtual machine to be replicated quickly, and either copied to another server over a WAN or backed up whole, said Chris Akerberg, Vizioncore's global sales and marketing VP.

"Our prediction is that more and more people will buy virtualisation as a disaster recovery strategy," he added. "The key is the level of abstraction that the hypervisor provides."

Combined with tools such as VMware's Vmotion, Vizioncore's vRanger and vReplicator, or esXpress from PHD Technologies, that abstraction means a VM can be restored or replicated to different hardware.

VM backup tools were developed because traditional backup methods expect a one-to-one relationship with servers. However, if one machine hosts many VMs, that's a lot of backup agents to install and manage. Instead they simply image the entire VM and compress the image - in effect, they are a simpler way to do a bare-metal restore.

Now though, software developers and users have realised that this technology can be used in other ways too, for example to snapshot a server and mirror it to a disaster recovery site.

Akerberg said that in future it should even be possible to move a working VM to a different virtualisation platform, for example replicating it from VMware to Virtual Iron or Microsoft Virtual Server.

He predicted that as the popularity of virtual servers grows, users will discover that the various platforms each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

"People will stick to one platform to begin with, but I truly believe that over time they will try things on different platforms," he said.

"They all do things a little differently, for example they have different file systems or formats. Eventually there will be enough of a track record and enough feedback to say, 'This type of application works best on this type of VM', and so on."