SRM and vSphere Replication have been available since 2008 and 2012 respectively. They both started as good products and have only gotten better over time. I'm still surprised and impressed by our engineering team’s ability to add significant new capabilities while at the same time keeping the core functionality solid. This post will cover what's new in both products at a high level with more detailed posts diving into features in more detail over the next couple weeks.
Virtual Volumes (vVols) Integration
After having SRM available as an appliance, integration with vVols was the most requested feature. SRM 8.3 is fully integrated with vVols using array-based replication. Users will have access to all the capabilities of SRM, combined with the simplicity, manageability and performance of vVols. As this integration is utilizing vVol replication, it supports a protection granularity as small as a single VM. When multiple VMs are replicated together in a replication group that is maintained as a consistency group. As an added benefit, the VASA provider replaces the SRA (Storage Replication Adaptor) so ongoing operations and maintenance are easier than ever. To start with, Pure, HPE 3par and Nimble are all design partners for vVol integration with SRM. Other vendors are working on their integrations and will be added soon. Reach out to your array vendor for more details about their plans and timeframes. Compatibility can be checked here. Note that this list will be updated closer to GA.
Automatic VM Protection
Something that customers have struggled with for a while with SRM is the scenario where a VM is added to an existing replicated and protected datastore. This necessitates opening the SRM interface and adding that VM to a protection group. No more! SRM will now automatically protect VMs that are either vMotioned or created on a datastore (file or block) that is already part of a protection group. This automatic protection capability will be especially helpful in dynamic environments as it lessens the workload on administrators.
Note: If a VM is Storage vMotioned from a different protection group it will not be automatically protected. This is to prevent issues with users accidentally moving a VM from one protection group to another.
The same capability also applies to vVols. Once a vVols protection group has been created, any additional VMs that are associated with the relevant vVol storage policy, will automatically be protected by SRM. No additional visit to the SRM UI is required unless the recovery settings for that VM need to be customized.
Seamless Disk Resizing
In the past when customers had to resize the disk of a VM that was being replicated by vSphere Replication it required a cumbersome and manual process to change the size of the replica disk at the target site. Not with vSphere Replication 8.3 and vSphere 7. Now when a replicated VM’s disks are resized the replica disks are resized automatically. The process is fully automated and involves no manual steps from the user and no changes to replication. This makes the job of administrators that much easier which is always a good thing.
vSphere Replication Configuration Export/Import Tool
SRM 8.1 introduced the ability to export and import the entire configuration of SRM, giving customers the ability to easily backup and restore. In vSphere Replication 8.3 that capability has been added to vSphere Replication as well. As a result, customers can now export and import the entire configuration of all replicated VMs including RPO, MPIT, compression, quiescing, encryption, datastore details, etc. This capability is currently only available through the CLI. It gives administrators a significantly easier way of backing up and restoring the configuration for all vSphere Replication replicated VMs.
The UI Team made a number of improvements to make SRM and VR easier to interact with and access the information you need. I'm just going to highlight a few of these, and later posts will get into much more detail.
- Numerous improvements to reporting capabilities including the ability to export all datagrids to csv
- Users can now easily export VM replication details
- The replications interface now includes the lag time stat which is the actual time since the last replication
- Ability to hide/show columns in all datagrids
- The replications list now shows associated protection groups (if any)
vSphere Replication Performance optimizations
The vSphere Replication engineering team is always looking for ways to improve performance, and in this release, they found a few more things to adjust. Using some cool outside the box thinking they managed to improve both the speed of the initial sync as well as that of the ongoing replication.
That's not all!
In addition to everything covered already there are a bunch of smaller improvements that will contribute to making the lives of administrators easier.
- SRM Configuration Import/Export tool enhancements
- Expanded capabilities with the vRO plug-ins for SRM and VR, including workflows for vVols
- New capabilities for the vROps Management packs for both SRM and VR
- Improved awareness within vSAN for vSphere Replication replica data
- Increased security through UI support for FIPS and integration with vSphere Trust Authority encryption
Upgrade to SRM and vSphere Replication 8.3 ASAP
I hope this helps you see why I'm so excited about the latest releases of Site Recovery Manager and vSphere Replication. One last note: the end of support for Adobe Flash is coming up at the end of 2020. This matters because the interface for vSphere and therefore SRM and vSphere Replication was previously built on Adobe Flash. If you are running SRM 6.5 or earlier, now is the time to upgrade. There are a ton of great new features in SRM 8.1, SRM 8.2 and of course SRM 8.3. Additionally, all of the latest versions of SRM and vSphere Replication have been decoupled from vCenter so they are compatible with multiple versions. Check out the compatibility matrix for details. Note that this matrix will be updated close to GA for SRM and VR 8.3.