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Category Archives: Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

Could an IT Scrinch ruin your holidays with data center downtime?

Could an “IT Scrinch” be living in your virtualized infrastructure? And could it be wreaking havoc on your business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plans in your IT environment?

These questions are probed in a new decked-for-the-holidays infographic that shows how VMware BC/DR solutions help you combat the IT Scrinch and save the day for your data center.

Here are a few of the ways the VMware BC/DR portfolio gets the job done:

  • The IT Scrinch wants you to work day and night to protect the almost 40 TB of fresh data produced each year in the typical SMB environment. [i] But not so with vSphere® Data Protection Advanced and vCenter® Site Recovery Manager™. These products help you save valuable staff time by automating and optimizing the backup and recovery of this constant onslaught of data.
  • The IT Scrinch greatly enjoys decreasing the availability of your applications. vSphere High Availability helps you fight back. It automatically moves your virtual machines when your servers or operating systems fail and automatically restarts the workloads when applications fail. Need to quickly troubleshoot an issue? In addition, VMware solutions can deliver a 26 percent decrease in time spent on troubleshooting issues brought by the IT Scrinch —to help you keep your systems available.[ii]
  • The IT Scrinch enjoys the thought that unplanned data center downtime costs $7,900 per minute.[iii] VMware vCloud® Air™ Disaster Recovery helps you avoid these costs. It leverages a public cloud to protect your onsite business-critical workloads and help ensure operational consistency with realizable cost and resource savings.

These are just some of the many ways you can put VMware solutions to work to combat the IT Scrinch in your virtualized infrastructure. To see additional ideas, check out our infographic How will the IT Scrinch make you miserable?

[i] The Acronis Global Disaster Recovery Index 2012.

[ii] Management Insight Technologies, September 2012

[iii] Emerson Network Power and Ponemon Institute, Dec. 3, 2013.

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Four Ways BC/DR Can Help Your SMB – Part 1: Backup

By: vExpert Gregg Robertson                        

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) is something every business, no matter how big or small, should be thinking about and planning for. Whilst preparing for my VCAP-DCD and even for my VCDX attempt, BC/DR was a very important topic, as two of the infrastructure qualities (AMPRS) that all designs show impact on are availability and recoverability.

In my daily role as a consultant, BC/DR is a core component for every design, no matter if it is vSphere, end-user computing or hybrid cloud. In this four part series of blogs, I am going to cover four different ways BC/DR can help your SMB through the usage of VMware solutions available . In part one, we will start with backup for your virtual environment.

Enterprise-Level Backups For SMB’s

The ability to do simultaneous backup and restores in an automated and simplistic manner is one of the major pillars of BC/DR. All companies want the ability to backup and restore their environments in the most efficient, cost effective and timely manner possible so that an outage from the loss of either a number of virtual machines or a file on a virtual machine isn’t going to cost the company.

One of the solutions from VMware that allows SMB customers to receive a large number of the features and capabilities of enterprise-level backup solutions due to it being powered by EMC Avamar is vSphere Data Protection Advanced (vDPA). vDPA enables a number of features with seamless integration with vSphere to enable single vendor support for backup and VMware virtualization. Some of these features and what they enable for SMB businesses are defined below:

  • Seamless Integration: vDPA is a simple-to-deploy, robust, disk-based backup and recovery solution. vDPA is fully integrated with VMware vCenter Server and enables centralized and efficient management of backup jobs while storing backups in de-duplicated destination storage.
  • Storage Efficiency and Recovery Time: vSphere API for Data Protection (vADP) is utilized by vDPA. This includes the Changed Block Tracking (CBT) mechanism. CBT tracks the changes made to a VM at the block level and provides this information to vDPA so that only changed blocks are backed up. This significantly reduces storage consumption and speeds up backup and recovery times with vDPA.
  • Consistent and Usable Backups: VMware Tools on Windows contains Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) components to assist with guest OS and application quiescing when backing up Windows VMs. More details on VSS can be found here.
  • Less Backup Storage Consumed: De-duplication occurs not only within each VM, but across all backup jobs and all VMs being backed up by the vDPA appliance. vSphere Data Protection Advanced leverages patented variable-length deduplication to consume up to 75 percent less backup storage* and deliver application-consistent, granular backup and recovery for applications.
  • Power State Independent: A VM that utilizes an agent for backup and recovery requires the VM to be in a powered on state. With vDPA, that is not the case – backups and recoveries can be performed regardless of the VM’s power state.
  • Browser Based Management: There is no need to install backup management software on an administrator’s workstation. Configuration and management of vDPA is web browser based. Currently supported browsers: IE 7, 8 on Windows. Firefox 3.6 and higher on Windows or Linux. Adobe Flash is required.
  • Granular Restoration: Restores can be entire VM or individual files and folders/directories. The file-level restore user interface (UI) is web based, simple, and intuitive, meaning end-users can perform self-service file-level restores (administrator permissions required).

vDPA Architecture

  • The appliance is deployed by default with 4 vCPUs and 4GB RAM.
  • vDPA is available in three sizes: 5 TB, 1 TB, and 2 TB – these are usable destination datastore sizes. The actual amount of disk space (thick provisioned) consumed by the appliance is 850 GB (3 .vmdk files), 1600 GB (7 .vmdk files), and 3100 GB (13 .vmdk files) respectively. Thin provisioning can be used, but the administrator should closely monitor disk consumption. It is important to note that once the vDPA appliance is deployed, the size cannot be changed.
  • The vDP appliance guest OS is SuSE Linux 11.
  • vCenter Server 5.1 or higher is required to use vDPA. vDPA can backup VMs on hosts running vSphere 4.0 and higher.
  • vDPA management is done via the vSphere Web Client. There is no plug-in for the vCenter Server “thick” client.

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How to best use the BC/DR features of vSphere

By: Vladan Seget, vExpert

VMware vSphere can be leveraged to ensure application availability, server availability or site availability. In this post I’ll look at different scenarios that might fit your organization.

While it’s quite easy to get protected by High Availability (HA) to prevent hardware failures, there might be scenarios where you also need application protection.

It’s all about granularity

VMware vSphere App High Availability (HA) – Applications First!

When it comes to granularity, you might want to protect your application first. If your application crashes under a heavy load, for example, but the VM is still running fine, nothing happens. Users will start to complain that their application is not available. In this case, vSphere HA won’t trigger an HA event and the VM won’t get restarted. How do you deal with that?

Application High Availability to the rescue! The vSphere Application HA works in conjunction with vFabric Hyperic Server, so you must install and configure Hyperic server in order to use vSphere App HA, and you must deploy a small agent to the VM for monitoring. The whole solution is managed through a plugin visible through the vSphere Web Client only.

Not all Enterprise applications are supported for monitoring – here is the list of currently supported applications:

  • MSSQL 2005, 2008, 2008R2, 2012
  • Tomcat 6.0, 7.0
  • TC Server Runtime 6.0, 7.0
  • IIS 6.0, 7.0, 8.0
  • Apache HTTP Server 1.3, 2.0, 2.2

One prerequisite to installing Application HA on your cluster is to activate VM and Application monitoring (see below) and also to create an IP pool for the subnet where you want to install the product.

App HA can protect your applications, but what about when the underlying VM has a problem? Yes – the usual High Availability mechanism kicks in. In vSphere 5.0 HA was completely revamped, and vSphere 5.5 brought even more options when it comes to affinity rules (or rather anti-affinity rules).

VMware High Availability (HA)

HA can save your bacon. That’s for sure. The main purpose of virtualization is to abstract the hardware to run VMs on any compatible hardware in HA cluster.

Problem with your hardware? No problem, HA kicks in and restarts the VM on another host in the cluster.

Since vSphere 5.x there is only one agent in the cluster which plays the role of Master. The agent is called FDM – Fault Domain Manager. One host takes the role of master. The other agents on other hosts are essentially slaves, but can become masters in the event the master host fails.

FDM master keeps track of all hosts that are members of a cluster, and any adding/removing hosts refreshes this list as well. Now you might be thinking, “What if the master fails?” In that case, there is an election process (this was not the case in vSphere 4) and the host that has access to the greatest number of datastores is elected as master. You might wonder why? It’s because the secondary communication channel is through datastores. There are other considerations for a slave to become elected as a master as well.

In a DRS enabled cluster, prior to vSphere 5.5 (but since vSphere 5.x), after a restart a VM via HA would be placed on a host, and then according to an anti-affinity rule, would move via vMotion to another host (see the left pic). Post vSphere 5.5, this has changed – the VM will start directly according to the anti-affinity rule, where it should.

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8 Myths on Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery…Busted!

This post originally appeared on the vCloud Blog

As high-profile outages continue to make headlines, a secure disaster recovery plan is increasingly becoming a top priority for IT. Not only can a well-developed disaster recovery plan save your data, but it could also save your entire business.

Shockingly, not every company is planned for a disaster or outage – globally 3 out of 4 companies are not prepared for a disaster. There are many  myths about cloud-based disaster recovery, and some have detered business owners from implementing a solution all together. Below, we disclose 2 common myths that surround cloud-based disaster recovery. View the full fact sheet to uncover additional misconceptions about disaster recovery and how you can set up a secure plan.

Myth #1:  Downtime Doesn’t Cost THAT Much

This is one of the most alarming misconceptions about disasters. Some business owners are unaware of the financial dangers a disaster can cost them. Downtime can cost businesses an average of $1,400 to $8,000 per minute! And on average, downtime can cost up to $84,000 an hour. Could your company bear this type of financial burden? If you answered, “No,” you’re not alone – the financial consequences following a disaster have caused other companies to go bankrupt.

Myth #2: Once I Set Up a Disaster Recovery Option, I’m Locked Into a Lengthy Contract

A contract between your business and a provider is common for any disaster recovery option. However, that does not mean you are bound to a contract forever. With VMware vCloud® Air™ Disaster Recovery, you can set the length of your commitment. Contracts and SLAs are not to be feared and can range depending on desired length.

Business owners shy away from implementing a disaster recovery plan because they’re under the influence of myths, theories and misconceptions. But as we hope we’ve demonstrated above, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions are nothing to fear.



If you’re interested in learning more about disaster recovery for your business, check out our complete list of, “8 Myths on Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery…Busted!”





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How to Build Better Protection for Your Applications and Data

When it comes to business continuity and disaster recovery, the stakes are higher than ever for IT. Your company depends on you to protect their most important data and apps against downtime. But you may not have adequate solutions in place to safeguard your business.

VMware virtualization can help. Based on the core vSphere platform, organizations can implement disaster recovery, data protection and business continuity solutions. And now putting them into production is easier, with our Tech Tips for Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery (BC/DR). Whether you’re just getting started with expanding virtualization for added BC/DR capabilities, or are looking for ways to improve your level of protection, these Tech Tips will help you:

  • Simplify management and set up dependable, space-efficient backup and recovery with vSphere Data Protection. You’ll get tips on how to:
    • Determine how much backup data capacity is right for your organization.
    • Set up effective retention policies to optimize bandwidth consumption and storage efficiency.

  • Lower your cost of disaster recovery by up to 50 percent with vCenter Site Recovery Manager. Get recommendations on ways to:
    • Start small with just one application or service, then build out your disaster recovery plan.
    • Use priority groups and dependencies to prioritize which VMs start at a recovery site.
    • Build multiple recovery plans to define sets of VM machines that fail over together.
  • Apply native cloud-based disaster recovery with vCloud Air Disaster Recovery. We’ll share advice on how to:
    • Choose the service subscription plan that’s right for your specific needs.
    • Define your disaster recovery policy settings based on the priority of your applications.
    • Run a test recovery operation to verify that everything is properly configured and working as planned.

You’ll find these and many more suggestions in the VMware Tech Tips for Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

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What’s New with vSphere Data Protection 5.8 and vSphere Replication 5.8

This post originally appeared on the vSphere Blog

Along with all of the announcements at VMworld 2014, I am happy to report on the latest versions of vSphere Data Protection (VDP) and vSphere Replication. As most of you may already know, there are two editions of VDP: VDP, which is included with vSphere Essentials Plus Kit and higher editions, and VDP Advanced, which is purchased separately. vSphere Replication is included with vSphere Essentials Plus Kit and higher editions. This article highlights the most prominent new features and updates in VDP Advanced and vSphere Replication.

VDP Advanced

Perhaps the number one feature request we heard was supporting the backup and recovery of databases on SQL Server AlwaysOn and Failover Clusters. The other was Exchange DAG support. With vSphere Data Protection Advanced 5.8, you get both! The VDP Advanced agents for SQL Server and Exchange have been updated to support these high availability solutions including the ability to select a replica backup policy such as “prefer secondary” for SQL Server AlwaysOn or “prefer passive” for Exchange DAG.

sqlserver alwayson backup

VDP Advanced has further enhanced its replication capabilities to enable “Replicate and Restore Anywhere”. Replicated backup data can be re-replicated – either back to the source location or another location. Examples – Scenario 1: I back up data at Site A with VDP Advanced and replicate the backup data to VDP Advanced at Site B. If needed, I could replicate that backup data (again) from Site B to Site C. Scenario 2: If Site A were to sustain a disaster and the original VDP Advanced appliance is lost, I could deploy a new VDP Advanced appliance, “Recover replicated backups” from Site B, and restore data in Site A.

recover replicated backups

It is now possible to deploy external proxies with VDP Advanced enabling more efficient backups in remote locations where the VDP Advanced appliance does not have direct access to the storage on which protected VMs are running, e.g., a separate cluster or remote site. An external proxy also supports VMs with Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM) and EXT4 file systems.

Reporting has improved in VDP Advanced 5.8. If there is a task failure, detailed client log information can be viewed in the VDP Advanced UI and saved to a text file. In addition to information on backup jobs, replication jobs, and automated backup verification jobs, a list of unprotected clients, i.e., VMs not currently included in a backup job, is available. These reports can be exported to CSV files.

vdp unprotected clients

vSphere Replication

The primary new feature of vSphere Replication 5.8 is the integration of replication to a cloud provider such as VMware vCloud Air. When configuring vSphere Replication for a VM, the first step is selecting replication to a vCenter Server environment (on premise) or a cloud provider.

vr config vcloud

This makes it easy to configure, manage, and monitor vSphere Replication both on premise and to the cloud using the vSphere Web Client.

vr monitoring

vSphere Replication reporting has also improved. Various graphs and charts are available including Replicated VMs (by VC), Replicated VMs (by Host), RPO Violations, and Transferred Bytes.

vr reports

The items above are in addition to numerous bug fixes. Those details will be available in the release notes for each product.

Follow me on Twitter: @jhuntervmware

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How To Seed a vCloud Air Disaster Recovery Replication Without Downtime

This post originally appeared on the vCloud Blog

In a recent blog post, VMware’s Chris Colotti shows step-by-step how to replicate a virtual machine in vCloud Air Disaster Recovery at a faster speed through data seeding.

With data seeding, you run the risk of a huge data transfer reduction. But there is a silver lining – you trade off the loss of data for a faster replication. To validate the process, Chris compared the results of three different methods:

1. Full ground up replication to establish an initial sync time


2. Traditional vCloud Connector data seeding


3. Live vSphere clone with vCloud Connector data seeding


Visit Chris Colotti’s blog for results and complete instructions on how to seed the replication using Offline Data Transfer without the need to power off the source machine!

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IT is the Cornerstone of Your Business. Shouldn’t You Protect It?

We’ve all heard about the cost savings you can get from virtualizing your infrastructure. But did you know that virtualization can also dramatically improve disaster recovery and business continuity (BCDR)?

In today’s competitive environment, your business can’t afford a minute of downtime. Even a short outage can impact your revenue, productivity, and your company’s reputation.

VMware can help your business up & running. Learn how in our paper, “5 Ways Virtualization Can Protect Your Business Now.” We’ll discuss how virtualizing with VMware can help you improve your BCDR strategy, including:

  • Simplified backup and recovery—Learn how vSphere Data Protection gives you total protection for your virtual infrastructure and your most important applications so you can minimize downtime and avoid lost data. With VMware tools you already know, deployment and management are fast, simple, and intuitive.
  • Protection against hardware and software failures—The quicker your team can spot a failure and respond to it, the better you can safeguard your business. VMware solutions protect your entire virtualized environment from failures at the physical server or OS level, and help ensure nonstop application availability.
  • Get protection from site-level failures—Virtualization lets you easily recover from site-level failures that can cost weeks of productivity. Discover how vSphere Replication makes it easy for you to easily replicate virtual machines to a recovery site.
  • Handle maintenance with zero downtime—Upgrading and patching hardware and software is important, but it’s time consuming for your team and might involve taking your applications offline. VMware solutions enable live migration of running virtual machines and virtual machine disk files, giving your IT teams the agility and flexibility they need to support other areas of the business.
  • Improve visibility across your virtualized environment—Without a single view of your IT environment, you’ll need to spend time and money managing and monitoring different administrative tools. vSphere with Operations Management delivers insight into the health, resource utilization, and capacity consumption of your entire virtualized environment.