VMworld 2010: BC8675 SRM Futures: Failback Automation, Workload Mobility and More

This session was presented by VMware’s Lee Dilworth and Jacob Jensen. Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a VMware solution which enables automated recovery of a datacenter running VMware virtual machines. Recovery plans can be tested without disturbing the production environment. SRM works together with storage vendors to enable replication of virtual machine diskfiles at the storage level.

A new version of SRM is currently in beta. If someone is interested in participating in the beta Lee can be contacted.

Lee explains that in a future version of SRM reconfiguration of IP-addresses is not needed anymore. Currently SRM customers have two options. Either use a stretched VLAN which enables the use of the same IP-subnet in both protected and recovery site. The alternative is to re-IP the virtual machines in case they are running in the recovery site after a failover. This re-IP can be done automatically by SRM but beforehand an Excel sheet needs to be filled in with the new IP-configuration. A recent customer survey showed that 60% of the SRM customers are using a flat network and 40% do Re-IP.

As said, in the near future when Cisco techniques like Virtual Private LAN Services (VPLS) or Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) are used Re-IP is not needed anymore.

SRM will support failover to cloud services. Currently a SRM customer will need two sites; one primary datacenter (protected site) and an alternate datacenter for recovery. Small and medium businesses will not always have a second datacenter. In the future SRM will be able to replicate virtual machines to a cloud provider. In case the datacenter is not available virtual machines can be made operational in the datacenter of a cloud provider.

Also integration with vCloud Director is planned to be able to protect virtual datacenters created with vCloud Director.

Fallback is something on the wishlist for a lot of customers. Currently fallback is possible but it will take some manual steps. In the future fallback will be automated.

The next version of SRM will have 5 groups for recovery priority. Each group can be assigned a different priority for recovery. Currently there a three levels of priority (high, normal, low). It will also be possible to indicate dependencies of start up of virtual machine inside groups. So if in Group 1 three virtual machines are placed, it will be possible to have a SQL server start only after a Active Directory server has started.

Host based replication is one of the most exciting new features of the new version of SRM. Instead of needing a storage array which is able to replicate, using host based replication single virtual machines running on an ESX host local VMFS datastore can be replicated to another site. This is especially usefull for branch offices where a few ESX hosts are placed using local storage or a storage array not capable for storage replication. Host based replication enables a Recovery Time Objective of 15 minutes to 24 hours. For the initial replication it will be possible to create an OVF file of the virtual machine, ship it to the datacenter and only replicate the changes. This will reduce the amount of data to be replicated over sometimes low bandwidth connections between remote office and datacenter.

The user interface has been adjusted. Recovery plans for example can be seen at both recovery and protected site.

Performance of SRM has been increased significantly. A lot of code has been rewritten and that results in a much better user expericence. The next version of SRM has been so re-enginered it is ready for the future!

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About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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