Today at VMworld we announced a bunch of very exciting technologies, for this article I'll be talking first about Site Recovery Manager 5.1, and then about vSphere Replication as a standalone feature of the vSphere platform.
Protection of your systems is a critical aspect of running a virtual infrastructure, and with these announcements (and that of vSphere Data Protection) we've really rounded out the business continuity functions of vSphere.
This is a fairly small release with some great features that continue to deliver on the changes we introduced with 5.0. At a high level, the changes are:
- Improved VSS integration for quiescent applications with vSphere Replication
- Improved storage handling for quicker and more consistent responsiveness and behaviour
- Forced recovery with vSphere Replication
- Reprotect and fallback with vSphere Replication
- A move to a 64 bit process
- Support for Essentials Plus environments.
Now a little more detail about a few of these items.
VMware Tools has the ability to issue commands to the operating system such as to set up VSS snapshots. With 5.1 we have the ability to do a little more than we have in the past, and ask the OS to flush application writers as well as make the OS itself quiescent. This means for things like databases, messaging platforms, and other applications that have VSS writers, we can ensure a higher level of application recoverability. When using vSphere Replication we can flush all the writers for the apps and the OS ensuring data consistency for the image used for recovery.
It's completely transparent to the OS, and a simple drop down that is chosen when setting up replication for a Windows VM.
In SRM 5.0.1 we introduced the forced failover ability: If your primary site is down or responding inconsistently sometimes we might have timeouts and errors waiting for results. This option for failover ensures that only recovery-side operations take place, and we don't timeout waiting for commands to return from the protected site. This was, at the time, only possible to use with array replication. With 5.1 it is now supported for vSphere Replication as well.
Reprotect and Failback
We can now, after failing over, simply click the "reprotect" button and the environment that has moved to the secondary site will be fully protected back to the original site, irrespective of type of replication you're using. Reprotect for vSphere Replication is fantastic - it'll use the existing policies of replication, protection groups, do a full sync back to the primary, and you are then ready to recover or migrate back to the primary location!
Essentials Plus support
One of the most numerous requests we've received over the years is to make SRM more accessible to the small and midsize business market. This step to make SRM compatible with Essentials Plus makes disaster recovery more accessible than ever for the SMB customers who have as much need for business continuity as every other customer!
Now on to vSphere Replication
vSphere Replication was introduced with SRM 5.0 as a means of protecting VM data using our in-hypervisor software based replication. It was part of SRM 5.0, and continues to be, carrying forward, but now we are offering the ability to use this technology in a new fashion.
Today's announcement about vSphere Replication is a big one: We have decoupled it from SRM and released it as an available feature of every vSphere license from Essentials Plus through Enterprise Plus.
Every customer can now protect their environment, using vSphere Replication as a fundamental feature of the protection of your environment, just like HA.
VR does not include all the orchestration, testing, reporting and enterprise-class DR functions of SRM, but allows for individual VM protection and recovery within or across clusters. For many customers this type of protection is critical and has been difficult to attain short of buying into a full multisite DR solution with SRM. Now most of our customers can take advantage of virtual machine protection and recovery with vSphere Replication.
Check out an introduction to vSphere Replication at http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/Introduction-to-vSphere-Replication.pdf