Azure Site Recovery is now available as Preview

Azure Site Recovery is now available as Preview. This service formerly known as Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager is able to orchestrate failover between two customer owned sites.

It is also able to replicate Hyper-V virtual machine to Microsoft Azure datacenters saving customers on costs of a secondary datacenter.

Besides replication to Azure the service also allows an orchestrated recovery of virtual machines in case of failover to an Azure datacenter.

Customers must be using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R and virtual machines running on Hyper-V. At the moment only Generation 1 VMs are supported. VHD & VHDX virtual disk files are supported.

A getting started with Azure Site Recovery  for on-premises to Azure is available here.

More information on Site Recovery here.

Costs
During Preview customers ger a 50% discount on pricing. The costs of protecting on-premises virtual machines to Microsoft Azure are $ 27,- per month per virtual machine *during Preview* . Customers receive 100GB of replication and storage per VM. Charging is based on an average usage per month. Suppose a customer protects 20 virtual machines for the first half of the month and none for the second half, the average daily number of protected virtual machines being charged by Microsoft would be 10.

Costs for using Azure Site Recovery as an orchestration tool for replication to another customer managed site is $ 16,- per month per virtual machine.

Book
I will cover Azure Site Recovery in my new book on Microsoft hybrid cloud.

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Veeam Backup & Replication 7.0 Patch 4 now available

Veeam released Patch 4 for Veeam Backup & Replication 7.0.

This patch contains new features and resolved issues.

Make sure you are running version 7.0.0.690, 7.0.0.715, 7.0.0.764, 7.0.0.771, 7.0.0.833, 7.0.0.839 or 7.0.0.870 prior to installing this patch. You can check this under Help | About in Veeam Backup & Replication console.

After upgrading, your build will be version 7.0.0.871

The release notes are here. Link to the download at the bottom of the release notes.

New features and enhancements:

VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN)

  • In addition to adding basic support (as provided by other vendors), the intelligent load-balancing engine was enhanced to account for VSAN specifics. As the result, for each VM the job will pick backup proxy running on VSAN cluster node with most of the virtual disks’ data available locally. This significantly reduces backup traffic on VSAN cluster network, resulting in minimum possible impact on production environment from backup activities.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014

  • Added support for Microsoft SQL Server 2014 both as the protected guest workload (including application-aware processing functionality), and the back-end database for backup and Enterprise Manager servers.

License key auto update

  • Added automated license key update option to the License Information dialog. With auto-update enabled, the product will check Veeam licensing server periodically for an updated license key, and download and install the key automatically as soon as it becomes available. This feature is particularly useful to the Service Providers and subscription-based customers, and it removes the need to download and install the license key manually each time when the license extension is purchased.

Backup Copy

  • The maximum allowed amount of restore points in the Backup Copy job has been increased to 999.
  • Backup Copy will now resume the transfer after network connection drop to a Linux-based backup repository.
  • Backup Copy jobs should no longer report errors during the days when source backup jobs are not scheduled to run – for example, during the weekend.

Hyper-V

  • Added support for certain Hardware VSS Providers that previously could not be detected by the storage rescan process, and as such could not be used by the jobs.
  • Jobs will now retry failed snapshot creation when another shadow copy of the same volume is already in progress, instead of immediately failing to process a VM.

Zerto releases Virtual Replication 3.5

Today Zerto released Zerto Virtual Replication (ZVR) 3.5. Virtual Replication does per VM replication and recovery orchestration  and is targeted at enterprises and service providers using VMware vSphere. Especially in the US a growing number of service providers use Zerto VR to offer Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) to their customers.

Zerto partners with Cisco. Cisco is using ZVR in their blueprints for service providers. Cisco customers can use these blueprints to offer DRaaS services to their customers to enhance their business model.

New major features in ZVR 3.5 are:

  1. Offsite backup
  2. VMware VSAN support
  3. new action APi’s
  4. alerts and notification enhancements
  5. tolerant failover

This release also includes fixes.

Virtual Replication 3.5 is available for immediate download from the Zerto portal.

Zerto-VR-35JPG

A video explaining and demoing the features can be seen here.

New in ZVR 3.5 is the ability for Offsite backup. Offsite backup is basically a copy of a regular replica stored in a safe place for a longer period.
The name ‘Offsite Backup’ can be a bit confusing. The functionality can be compared to NetApp SnapVault. Bascially Offsite Backup is a vault (or backup) for replica’s. The purpose is to make sure the replica can be retrieved over a longer time window.

The regular ZVR replica has a protection of max. 5 days. Offsite backup allows to restore data of up to one year back in time. Offsite backups can be stored on SMB/CIFS shares. Storing offsite backup data in Amazon cloud storage is supported as well using a tool which presents Amazon storage a fileshare over SMB.

The offsite backup is wrapped in a so-called Zerto Backup Package. The package contains a full backup of all virtual machines part of a Zerto Virtual Protection Group. The package is portable. It does not need the exact Zerto Virtual Manager installation of version to be restored.

Mind offsite backup is not a replacement for regular backup software. It does not have deduplication, is not an archiving solution and is not able to recover single files.

Use cases for Offsite backup are:

  • compliance use:
  • archiving of test/dev virtual machines. Think about a software company usung VM’s for development
  • 3rd site for storage of backup
  • cost reduction

Tolerant failover means a failover is still regarded succesfull even when some of the  VMs are recovered but cannot be not turned on. Causes for a VM not being able to start could be for example an IP conflict, MAC address conflict or not enough resources in a resource pool.

 

 

Veeam announces Backup & Replication v8 & Availability Set v8

At May 20 Veeam announced a new suite. Veeam Availability Set v8 is a bundle of Veeam Backup & Replication v8 plus Veeam ONE. Veeam Availability Set v8 is expected to be released in Q3 2014 and will be displayed at the VeeamON event in October.

VeeamON is an event in Las Vegas for Veeam customers and partners. On the agenda are keynotes, breakout sessions, training for Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE) and an Expo lounge.

My guess would be Veeam Availability Set v8 will be released first week of October just before VeeamON..

Veeam ONE offers features for monitoring, reporting and capacity management of vSphere and Hyper-V infrastructures.

New features in Backup & Replication v8 are:

  • Support for Microsoft Active Directory and SQL Server by Veeam Explorer. This offers the ability to restore databases and Active Directory objects by simply exploring a backup file. No need for a complete restore of AD or a SQL database.
  • Support for EMC DD BoostDD Boost, formerly called Data Domain Boost Software, enables part of the deduplication effort to be offloaded to the backup client server. This greatly shortens backup window by up to 50%. 
  • Support for NetApp Snapshot. Veeam B&R is able to make a backup using a NetApp Snapshot as source instead of the running virtual machine. This allows for a much better Recovery Time Objective without impacting performance. When a backup is made directly from running virtual machines performance can be impacted because of the use of vSphere snapshots. More information in this blogpost
  • AES 256 bit encryption Secure your data in-flight during the backup process and at-rest in the remote location with end-to-end encryption. Even if the password is lost, Veeam Backup & Replication allows you to easily recover your data from encrypted backups without compromising security
  • Replication enhancements. Replication can now be performed from a backup instead using the running virtual machine. Again this improves performance. Also built-in WAN Acceleration with replication jobs is added.

More on new features on the Veeam site.

Some more details on these features in this blogpost by Ray Lucchesi. 

More info in the Veeam press release. 

Microsoft announces Microsoft Azure Site Recovery

The number 1 most requested feature for Microsoft Azure is disaster recovery. The keynote speech mentioned some details. Also breakout session DCIM-B322 revealed some details.

At TechEd 2014 in Houston Microsoft announced a new service running on Microsoft Azure. Azure Site Recovery enables failover of Hyper-V virtual machines running on-premise using Microsoft Azure as a target.

Azure Site Recovery will be the new name for the current Azure service named ‘Hyper-V Recovery Manager’. Recovery Manager is able to orchestrate a failover and failback of System Center Virtual Machine Manager managed virtual machines. Required however is having two sites managed by the customer. Azure cannot be used to run virtual machines in a failover scenario. Azure just has meta data and runs the orchestration logic.

Azure Site Recovery will go in preview in June 2014. It will allow data replication set at a schedule of every 30 seconds, 5 or 15 minutes. It has a maximum of 15 recovery points and supports VSS snapshots for application consistency. Customers can select to  encrypt data at rest.

Customers will only be charged for the consumption of storage. During normal replication no virtual machines will be running. Only during failover or failover test compute resources will be charged.

Azure does not provide tailor made virtual machine sizes. This means customers has to select from a number of fixed configured virtual machines (small, large, A6, A8 etc). Azure Site Recovery will automatically adjust the Azure VM to have a best match with the failover VM which run on-premises.

Virtual disk format VHDX is supported but Generation 2 virtual machines are not supported.

Like for Hyper-v Recovery Manager, Virtual Machine Manager is required for Site Recovery

The service allows to map on-premise networks to Azure networks. It also has recovery plans. This enables administrators to control the sequence in which virtual machines are started in case of a failover to Microsoft Azure.

A failover can be tested while the production site running on-premises is operational and not disturbed.

The Azure management console which is used to manage Site Recovery supports any HTML5 compliant browser. This means failover can be performed from any device and from any location.

Site Recovery does not support seeding. Seeding is shipping a complete virtual disk on removeable media or a NAS to a datacenter to prevent tranfering data of an initial replication over the WAN. Which is remarkable because Azure does have such an import feature for virtual machines. I guess the challenge with Site Recovery is that no virtual machine is created. Only at a failover (test) a virtual machine is provisioned using replicated data. ExpressRoute (a private WAN connection between an on-premise datacenter and Microsoft Azure datacenter) can be used for replication traffic.

Site Recovery supports a failback in which virtual machines are replicated back to the on-premise datacenter. This is done by only sending the delta or change data. So only the data which has been changed during the failover is sent back to the original VM.

The session on Site Recovery is available for viewing here. 

Site Recovery will be available in 6 different regions at Preview. Two  in the US, two in the UK (this is what one of Microsoft staff told in an interview)  and two in Asia. The UK is  Dublin and Amsterdam by the way, both not located in the UK.

Microsoft did not publish the pricing of this new service.

Channel 9 did a live interview by Symon Perriman with Vishal Mehrotra and Manoj K Jain titled ‘Enterprise-Scale Disaster Recovery’  It was at May 14 from 11:30AM to 12:15PM and was recorded. It is now shown on https://channel9.msdn.com/ but later I will add the direct URL of the recording

Some nice new information was revealed.

Ofcourse this new feature will be described in my to be released book on Microsoft Cloud OS.

Comparing Hyper-V to vSphere: licensing hosts for disaster recovery

In a serie of blogposts I will explain licensing of Microsoft products. Licensing is not a sexy thing, most of us like to concentrate on technical aspects. However licensing can make or break a business case for a solution.

So some knowledge about it can be very usefull.

In this blogpost I will inform about licensing in a disaster recovery scenario when vSphere or Hyper-V is used. Lets take the following example:

An organization wants to built new greenfield IT-platform. It is decided to house servers, storage etc in serverrooms located in two different sites. Services of a service provider are not used. One site will be active, the other will be passive. Replication will be used to keep both sites in sync.

In case VMware vSphere is selected as hypervisor, each server on which ESXi is installed needs to be licensed. So all servers in the primary, active site as well as all servers in the passive site. Even when those servers are not used to host production workloads. In this scenario the ESXi servers in the passive site only host replica’s of VM’s. vSphere Replication (included free in vSphere Essentials and higher editions) can be used for replication. VMware states in this document about using VMware Site Recovery Manager (not included in vSphere license).

Do I need to purchase VMware vSphere licenses for both the protected and recovery sites?
A. vSphere licenses are required for any server on which vSphere is installed—whether that host is at a protected site
or a recovery site, and whether a server is running or powered down at the recovery site. Site Recovery Manager requires at
least one licensed vSphere server at both the protected site and the recovery site

Here a VMware KB article confirming both active and passive site needs VMware ESXi licenses. When using vSphere Replication (feature of vSphere) you need a vSphere license for each host as well. Otherwise the VMware host will not function.

If you have questions on VMware licensing contact them at licensing-management@vmware.com

The situation is different if Microsoft Hyper-V is selected as the hypervisor. If the organization acquires Windows Server plus Software Assurance all Windows Hyper-V hosts used as recovery server in the secondary site do not require a Windows Server license. However Hyper-V Replica must be used to replicate virtual machines to the secondary site.

This could be a financial advantage compared to buying VMware vSphere. I am not saying it IS a financial advantage. To benefit from the ‘disaster recovery rights’ Microsoft customers are required to acquire Software Assurance (SA). SA is an add-on to the purchase of the software license. Costs for SA are about 20-25% of the license costs each year. Organizations need to consider the complete scenario.

Without Software Assurance Microsoft customers are very limited in moving licenses to other locations. For example without SA on SQL Server 2014 & 2014 customers are not even allowed to perform a vMotion/Live Migration to another host in the same cluster!

So Microsoft certainly is not a charity organization. What they give away for free or pretend to give away for free is being paid by customers using for example SQL Server on-premise.

These  ‘Disaster Recovery Rights’ are documented in the Microsoft Product Use Rights or PUR. The PUR is updated by Microsoft each month. Download the PUR here.

One of the Software Assurance benefits is described in Appendix 2 of the PUR.

Servers — Disaster Recovery Rights

For each instance of eligible server software you run in a physical or virtual OSE on a licensed server, you may temporarily run a backup instance in a physical or virtual OSE on a server dedicated to disaster recovery.   The license terms for the software and the following limitations apply to your use of software on a disaster recovery server.

The OSE on the disaster recovery server can run only during the following exception periods:

  • For brief periods of disaster recovery testing within one week every 90 days
  • During a disaster, while the production server being recovered is down
  • Around the time of a disaster, for a brief period, to assist in the transfer between the primary production server and the disaster recovery server

In order to use the software under disaster recovery rights, you must comply with the following terms:

  • The OSE on the disaster recovery server must not be running at any other times except as above.
  • The OSE on the disaster recovery server may not be in the same cluster as the production server.
  • Windows Server license is not required for the disaster recovery server if the following conditions are met:
  • The Hyper-V role within Windows Server is used to replicate virtual OSEs from the production server at a primary site to a disaster recovery server.

The disaster recovery server may be used only to
o    run hardware virtualization software, such as Hyper-V,

o    provide hardware virtualization services,

o    run software agents to manage the hardware virtualization software,

o    serve as a destination for replication,

o    receive replicated virtual OSEs, test failover, and

o    await failover of the virtual OSEs.

o    run disaster recovery workloads as described above

  • The disaster recovery server may not be used as a production server.

  • Use of the software in the OSE on the disaster recovery server should comply with the license terms for the software.

  • Once the disaster recovery process is complete and the production server is recovered, the OSE on the disaster recovery server must not be running at any other times except those times allowed here.

  • Maintain Software Assurance coverage for all CALs, External Connector licenses and Server Management Licenses under which you access your licensed software running on the disaster recovery server and manage the OSEs in which that software runs.

  • Your right to run the backup instances ends when your Software Assurance coverage ends.

Veeam Backup & Replication v8 will have NetApp snapshot support

Veeam anounced one of the new features of the to be released Backup & Replication v8.

Version 8 will support NetApp storage snapshots.

With this feature Veeam extends its support for storage based snapshots. Veeam already supports HP storage snapshots using  Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots. It  lets you restore VMware VM data directly from native and HP StoreServ (3PAR), HP StoreVirtual (LeftHand) and HP StoreVirtual VSA (Virtual Storage Appliance) snapshots.

Combining NetApp snapshots with Veeam B&R is combining the best of two worlds.

NetApp ONTAP which is the operating system of the storage offers several ways to protect data at the storage layer:

  • Snapshot: creates a point in time copy of a ONTAP volume for data protection purposes. Creating a storage based snapshot does not have an impact on performance of the virtual machines. Creation of snapshots can be full scheduled and is a first line of defense for dataprotection. It allows a very low Recovery Point Objective (RPO).
  • SnapMirror: replicates the snapshot to a different NetApp storage device.
  • SnapVault: archives a snapshot

Advantage of combining Veeam B&R and NetApp snapshots

Veeam Backup & Replication will be able to directly acces the ONTAP Snapshot data and make a backup of the data included in the snapshot. Backup of virtual machines running on NetApp is a two step process now.

The advantage of an ONTAP storage snapshot is that is does not have a negative effect on the performance of virtual machines. When VMware based snapshots are used instead, there can be an impact on performance when snapshots are deleted when the backup has finished. Read about the impact on performance when using VMware snapshots here.

The reason to use Veeam B&R for backup of the NetApp snapshot is that you want your backup data to be stored on a different physical storage device. Snapshots are not backups! If your NetApp is lost (technical errors, fire) your snapshots (if not mirrored using SnapMirror) are lost as well.

 

Restoring data from NetApp snapshots is a bit complicated and time consuming process. When using Veeam B&R however restore is very simple and fast. Veeam is able to restore virtual machines, individual guest files but also Exchange and SharePoint items directly from ONTAP Snapshot, SnapMirror or SnapVault as a source. It is also possible to run a virtual machine from a snapshot using the Veeam Instant VM Recovery technology. There is no need for copying data from backup source to production volume. This enables a very low Recovery Time Objective.

You can learn more here http://go.veeam.com/v8-netapp.html or read Luca Dell’Oca’s post http://www.veeam.com/blog/veeam-to-offer-advanced-data-protection-with-netapp.html

There is a webinar on April 17th http://www.veeam.com/videos/veeam-netapp-integration-3999.html

Veeam Backup & Replication v8 is expected to be available in second half of 2014.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Update KB2919355 causing failed backups of Hyper-V VM’s

After installation of Windows Server 2012 R2 Update KB2919355, backups of Hyper-V VM’s fail. The error is

 

Error: Client error: The system cannot find the file specified

This error is not caused by the backup software nor the storage used. It is a bug in the Microsoft update. Veeam is curently working on a workaround which is expected to be released this Tuesday.

So be carefull installing this Microsoft update.

More info on the Veeam forum.

Veeam Explorer for Active Directory Beta released

Veeam just released a beta version of Veeam Explorer for Active Directory. This nice piece of software allows a simple restore of Active Directory objects without having to restore a complete Active Directory server. Just  do a file level recovery of a domain controller. The guest filesystem will be mounted locally on the backup server to C:\veeamflr folder. After that, browse into that folder with Explorer for Active Directory and open ntds.dit . Use the Explorer for Active Directory to restore objects directly into the operational AD. It is also possible to export to a LDIF file.

Supported are Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2012. When restoring objects of a Windows Server 2012 domain controller make sure Veeam Explorer for Active Directory is installed on the same version OS (2012) or on Windows 8. 

The info below was taken from the Veeam forum:

VEAD supports search and restore of all AD objects types, including users, groups, computer accounts and contacts. It can restore individual object’s attributes, the entire objects, and even the whole organizational units (along with the hierarchy). Of course, the deleted objects do not have to be present in the Recycle Bin, as we will obtain all the data from backup where the objects are still present in AD. More importantly, unlike many other Active Directory recovery solutions, we do not require that the tombstone of the deleted object is still present in AD. VEAD is also fully Microsoft Exchange aware, so when restoring the user account, we will restore all Exchange-related attributes and reconnect the mailbox. As you will see, this is a very comprehensive solution.

But, there is one more thing. VEAD also has the unique ability to recover passwords! Imagine accidentally deleting the entire OU with all your users. Without this feature, each user will be prompted to set the new password upon first logon, which is very disruptive and insecure. But this feature will come even more handy if you lose an OU with computer accounts! If you simply restore those back, computers will not be able to logon to the domain because of computer account password mismatch. Now, just imagine the nightmare of going to each computer, switching it into workgroup, and then joining it back into the domain… hundreds of times! This is when you will really appreciate this feature.

The beta can be downloaded  here. (requires B&R 7.0)

Andrea Mauro of vinfrastructure.it wrote a great post about Veeam Explorer for Active Directory

Veeam releases Backup & Replication 7.0 R2 update supporting vSphere 5.5.

Today Veeam released Veeam Backup & Replication R2. This version has a lot of new features. One of the most interesting is support for VMware vSphere 5.5. The update also contains bugfixes.

Veeam has named this release a patch. To obtain the patch please download it from: Download

More information here

What is new:

VMware

  • vSphere 5.5 support, including support for 62TB virtual disks and virtual hardware v10 virtual machines.
  • vCloud Director 5.5 support.
  • Support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 as guest virtual machines (VMs).
  • Added ability to limit maximum amount of active VM snapshots per datastore to prevent it from being overfilled with snapshot deltas. The default value of 4 active snapshots can be controlled with MaxSnapshotsPerDatastore (REG_DWORD) registry key.

Microsoft

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and free Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 support, including support for Generation 2 virtual machines.
  • Support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 as guest virtual machines (VMs)
  • Support for System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  • Support for the installation of Veeam Backup & Replication and its components on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1.

Built-in WAN acceleration

  • Increased data processing up to 50% with hard drive based cache, and up to 3 times with SSD based cache. Multi-core CPU on source WAN accelerator is recommended to take full advantage of the enhanced data processing engine.

Replication

  • Added ability for source and target proxy servers to reconnect and resume replication when network connection between source and target site drops for a short period of time.

Tape

  • Added support for a number of enterprise-class tape libraries with partitioning functionality that allows presenting multiple tape library partitions to the same host.
  • Import/export slot interaction has been redesigned to add support for a number of IBM and Oracle tape libraries.

Application-aware processing

  • Added ability for application-aware processing logic to detect passive Microsoft Exchange DAG database present on the VM, and process it accordingly.
  • Added support for Exchange CCR clusters.

User interface

  • User interface should now remember size and positions off the main window, as well as all panels and columns.

 

 

Free 180-day NFR license for Veeam Backup & Replication v7

Veeam is giving away FREE 180-day NFR licenses for 2 sockets of Veeam® Backup Management Suite™ for VMware or Hyper-V for your home or work lab.

This offer is for  VMware vExperts, VMware Certified Professionals (VCP), Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists (MCTS) and Most Valuable Professionals (MVP) only!

Veeam Backup Management Suite is built from Veeam Backup & Replication™ to deliver the data protection, visibility and control you need for your VMware or Hyper-V environment. By leveraging the capabilities and benefits of virtualization, Veeam Backup Management Suite helps organizations modernize their data protection strategy and mitigate daily management risks.

Get a FREE NFR license for your lab to see the benefits of Veeam Backup Management Suite for yourself:

  • Complete visibility of your backup and virtual infrastructures
  • Advanced monitoring of backup jobs and resources
  • At-a-glance reporting and detailed documentation of backup status, performance, availability, utilization and more!

And while you download the software, help Veeam to win Windows IT Pro Community Awards! They are nominated in SEVEN categories. You can vote here http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2013-CommChoice-WinITPro-FinalVoting

Register for the NFR license  here,

 

What is new in VMware Site Recovery Manager 5.5

This post is part of a series of posting on the VMworld 2013 announcements. See this post for an overview of what has been announced at VMworld 2013.

AT VMworld 2013 VMware announced Site Recovery Manager 5.5
Part of SRM is the ability to replicate on a per VM basis. Information on What is New on vSphere Replication can be found here.

VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a business continuity and disaster recovery solution that helps you to plan, test, and run the recovery of virtual machines between a protected vCenter Server site and a recovery vCenter Server site.

You can configure SRM to work with several third-party disk replication mechanisms by configuring arraybased replication. Array-based replication surfaces replicated datastores to protect virtual machine workloads. You can also use host-based replication by configuring SRM to use VMware vSphere Replication to protect virtual machine workloads.

You can use SRM to implement different types of recovery from the protected site to the recovery site.

What is new:

this information is based on VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.5 Release Candidate| 19 JUL 2013 | Build 1228390

  • Ability to test your DR non-disruptively from any site, and view both sites
  • SRM 5.5 allows you to protect virtual machines with disks that are larger than 2TB
  • support for Windows Server 2012 for installation of SRM
  • New configuration option to support vSphere Replication
  • Storage DRS and Storage vMotion  supported when moving virtual machines within a consistency group.
  • Protect virtual machines in Virtual SAN environments by using vSphere Replication. You can use Virtual SAN datastores on both the protected site and on the recovery site.
  • Preserve multiple point-in-time (MPIT) images of virtual machines that are protected with vSphere Replication. Advanced settings include an option to recover all vSphere Replication PIT snapshots.
  • Protect virtual machines that reside on vSphere Flash Read Cache storage. Flash Read Cache is disabled on virtual machines after recovery.
  • SRM 5.5 no longer supports IBM DB2 as the SRM database, in line with the removal of support for  DB2 as a supported database for  vCenter Server 5.5.

SRM 5.5 still needs the C# (full vSphere client) for management. So no support for the vSphere web client.
The operational limits for using SRM 5.5 with vSphere Replication 5.5 are the same as for using SRM 5.1 with vSphere Replication 5.1.

•MPIT retention is turned off by default, but can be enabled in advanced settings within SRM.  This is the default behaviour as only the recent point in time will have any SRM failover customizations such as scripts, network changes, etc. applied to it during failover.  If the administrator reverts to an earlier snapshot these changes will be lost.  Enable this setting in advanced features in SRM if retention of MPIT is desired.
•Compatibility with Storage vMotion of primary objects with vSphere Replication is retained when using SRM, completely transparently.  There is no real restriction on where or when users may migrate VMs.
•SRM has always supported multiple vSphere Replication servers, but be aware that topologies are more restrictive when using SRM vs. using stand alone vSphere Replication. I.e. VR supports many topologies depending on where VR appliances and VR servers are deployed.  SRM still supports only 1-to-1 pairing or Many-to-1 shared recovery.
•VSAN support is also maintained in SRM if using vSphere Replication
•Migrating VR based VMs with SDRS or sVmotion is fully supported within SRM as well.

Secondly, the support for Storage vMotion has been expanded to include migration of VMs within a consistency group on an array when using array based replication and vCenter 5.5 with vSphere 5.1 and above *only*:

•If VMs are moved out of a disk consistency group the replicated VMX file may not be created in the right location rapidly enough, causing the VM to be unrecoverable
•Therefore Datastore Clusters *must* be made and *must* contain only the datastores provided by the consistency group on the array, i.e. each datastore cluster may contain only datastores from the same consistency group on the array.
•Each datastore in the consistency group will have the same availability characteristics (RPO, speed, etc.) and therefore each datastore in the datastore cluster/pod will have the same characteristics.
•When that is the case, storage vMotion and storage DRS are supported within the datastore cluster/pod.  This will ensure a valid VMX and VMDK file is always present and available for recovery.
•SRM will scan all datastores in a protection group for a valid VMX file for any given VM.  If a VM is migrated on the primary site, the VMX will be created on the new datastore and deleted on the old.  This means the replication of that VMX will happen and the deletion of the old one in parallel with the action on the primary site.
•This means the migration may not have completed when failover occurs, in which case we can still use the old VMX, or it will have completed in which case we can use the new one.  In any case the VM remains recoverable as long as consistency groups are used.

Further explanation on storage vmotion:

“Fundamentally what we’re doing is now scanning all the directories in the replica datastores of a datastore group in a PG on the recovery site.  We look for the vmx everywhere now instead of just looking for the vmx in the last place it was put when the vmx was protected.
So the caveat is the VM must be placed in the primary site on a storage cluster that contains only datastores that contain only disks/luns/disk groups that are part of the same consistency group on the backend.

It is a manual process to set this up and there is no error checking, so the administrator must know the storage layout well.

If all the replicated files reside in a SRM protection group backed by a storage cluster backed by datastores backed by only disk groups/LUNs/etc. in a consistency group, then you can manually migrate or turn on storage DRS for those VMs.

This is because we now look for the files for that VM in all directories associated with that protection group.
Since those disks in the consistency group are all replicated with the same schedule and write order fidelity is maintained, we can therefore allow them to move because there will always be a recoverable set of files either at the source location (if a crash/recovery occurs during migration) or at the target location (if it completes successfully before the crash/recovery).

This is the scenario we’ve had to avoid in the past, an incomplete migration leading to the deletion of the primary VMX before the replication engine has placed the new VMX in the appropriate directory at the recovery site, or before SRM has been notified about the new location at the recovery site.

Not there are no checks to ensure it doesn’t move out to somewhere incorrect, so there is still the risk of moving it into an unprotected area or outside of the consistency group if they are not careful, and that can still lead to a non-recoverable VM.  We do send alerts if vmotion has moved it out of protection, but do not stop the migration.

Caveats and Limitations

  • SRM 5.5 RC does not support upgrading from a previous release. Only a fresh installation of SRM 5.5 RC is supported.
  • No storage replication adapters (SRA) are  provided for SRM 5.5 RC. Existing SRM 5.1 SRAs should work, but SRM 5.5 RC  does not officially support array-based. Protecting virtual machines by using  vSphere Replication is supported.
  • Using vSphere Replication with VMware Virtual SAN environments is supported but is subject to certain limitations in this release.

    Using SRM and vSphere Replication to replicate and recover virtual machines on VMware Virtual SAN datastores can results in incomplete replications when the virtual machines are performing heavy I/O. ESXi Server can stop  unexpectedly.

    SRM and vSphere Replication do not  support replicating  or recovering virtual machines to the root folders with user-friendly names on Virtual SAN datastores. These  names can change, which causes  replication errors.  vCenter Server does not register virtual machines from such paths. When selecting Virtual SAN datastores, always select  folders with UUID names, which do not change.

  •  SRM 5.5 RC offers limited  support for vCloud Director environments.  Using SRM  to protect virtual machines  within  vCloud resource pools (virtual machines deployed to an Organization) is not supported. Using SRM to protect the  management structure of vCD is supported. For information about how to use SRM to protect the vCD Server instances, vCenter Server instances, and databases  that provide the management infrastructure for vCloud Director, see VMware vCloud Director Infrastructure Resiliency Case Study.
  • SRM does not accept certificates signed using MD5RSA signature algorithm.
  • Windows Server 2003 is not a supported platform for  SRM Server but the SRM installer  allows  you to install SRM on Windows Server 2003.

In the future SRM will be deployed as a virtual appliance.

This post is part of a series of posting on the VMworld 2013 announcements. See this post for an overview of what has been announced at VMworld 2013.

What is new in VMware vSphere Data Protection

This post is part of a series of blogpostings on VMworld 2013 announcements. See here for a complete overview of all announcements.

VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) is VMware’s backup and restore tool. It is provided for free with vSphere Essentials Plus and higher editions.

So far the features of the tool were very limited. Use cases  of VDP are small companies, remote offices etc.

vSphere Data Protection

With this release, vSphere Data Protection (VDP) gains the following capabilities:

  • Disk-level granularity
  • Detachable/remountable data partitions
  • Replication to the cloud. Data can be replicated to a cloud provider who has EMC Avamar
  • Time-of-day scheduling
  • Removal of the blackout window
  • Restore without dependancy of vCenter. Direct to host “Emergency Restore” for any VM

vSphere Data Protection Advanced (VDP Advanced) offers all the features available in VDP, plus these:

  • Replication
  • Data Domain integration
  • Exchange message-level recovery
  • SharePoint integration
  • Automated backup verification

more info on the VMware website.

One of the new features in  VDP is the ability to select individual .vmdk files for backup. To avoid backing up an OS page or swap file, perhaps it now makes sense to create a separate .vmdk file for the page/swap file, which could then be excluded from VDP backup jobs.

Another new feature is that scheduling of backup jobs is now much more granular. The time of the start can now be set. In the past VDP selected the runtime by itself.

The datastore where to store the VDP operating system disk and the data disk can now be individually set. In the past this had to be on the same datastore. This now enables a scenario in which the VDP OS is lost due to a disaster. A new VDP virtual appliance can be installed and point to the original VDP data disk.

Sneak Peek: Veeam Backup & Replication v7

Veeam will release Veeam Backup & Replication v7 in Q3 2013. The  new release will have 2 disruptive innovations, 7 market changing features, and 75+ enhancements according to a tweet of Veeam!

Some of the enhancements are shown in this document.

Besides new features there will be a new edition as well: Enterprise Plus.

some of the new features are:

Backup Copy jobs
Best practices and common sense dictate keeping at least two copies of your backups, and new Backup Copy jobs let you implement proper backup and retention policies without requiring extra backups, copy scripts or capabilities like storage-based file replication. VM backups are automatically archived to the storage location of your choice, and validation and remediation make sure your copies are available and reliable.

Built-in WAN Acceleration
 

 

 

 

 

Gartner Catalyst session: Modernizing Business Continuity and DR Using Virtualization and the Cloud

One of the presentations at Gartner Catalyst Conference was titled Modernizing Business Continuity and DR Using Virtualization and the Cloud.

It can be watched online for free here. If you do not have an account you can create one for free and watch three sessions for free.

This blogpost has a summary of what was presented here.

The outline of the  presentation by Werner Zurcher is :

Server virtualization and public and private cloud services have dramatically changed the alternatives organizations have to ensure greater application availability and disaster recovery. This session provides detailed guidance on how to modernize business continuity and highlights lessons learned from bleeding edge organizations that are already using private and public clouds for DR. The key questions answered in this session include:
• How are technologies like server and storage virtualization and software-defined networks architected to improve business continuity?
• Who is enabling, and who is embracing cloud DR and for what use cases?
• What are the most common architectural pitfalls that should be avoided?

As IT is becoming more and more important organizations are looking for ways to improve their business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities. Superstorm Sandy and the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan increased the number of questions by Gartner customers on how to improve DR.

To start improving BC and DR, some advise from Gartner

  • IT must know the business requirement for BC and DR
  • IT should use virtualization to improve mobility, availability and DR.
  • use automation to simplify disaster recovery.
  • use the cloud to support BC management and assure IT service recovery

 

Gartner did interviews with 16 of its clients to understand how they perform BC and DR. All Gartner customers who are innovative on DR have a high degree of virtualized servers. Their servers were between 75 and 99% virtualized. That is much higher then the average. Gartner estimates that by the end of 2013 67% of all servers will be running virtualized.

Most companies have 3 to 4 tiers of application protection levels ranging from  Mission critical, critical, important and non important for example. Each tier describes uptime requirements, availability, RTO and RPO. Many companies also have a Tier 0 level for critical infrastructure components. In this level of protection are services like Active Directory, DNS and DHCP. These services need to be available at all times. Organizations do not want to rely on  restore of Microsoft AD first and only after succesfull restore start with restoring the business applications.

The slide below shows the average spending on disaster recovery by industry. Clearly banks, telecom and airlines spent the most money of their IT budget on DR.

The slide gives an indication of RTO and RPO per industry.

.Dr-slide1GIF

 

Benefits of server virtualization to DR

Virtualization makes DR much easier and less costly. Virtualization provides hardware abstration. VMs can run on any supported hardware platform. In the secondary datacenter used for DR less hardware is needed when servers are virtualized. Virtualization also enables using the cloud as a DR site.

DR Automation tooling

A quote of one of the Gartner customers who participated in the study was: “We’re moving away from RecoverPoint to get away from replicating everything. I want only certain things to get replicated. Also, with LUN-based replication, if everthing on the same LUN isn’t related, it gets more difficult to move or test (failover and failback).

Death to array-based replication

Dr-slide2

This quote comes from a Gartner client using Zerto Virtual Replication. They are moving to the cloud for DR this fall. In the Gartner study 10 of the 16 customers were using software replication. 7 of those 10 are using a combination of software and hardware replication (replication performed at storage level) .

<note from author: In April 2012 I did a review of Site Recovery Manager, Zerto Virtual Replication and Virtualsharp Reliable DR. Since then new versions have been released. Read the review here . 

I also blogged about using Zerto for DR to the cloud in this blogposting titled Is your data ready for the next natural disaster or other hazards to IT?

>

Garter recommends to separate  data of virtual machines in 3 different virtual disks.

  • Disk 1 for operating system, application software files.
  • Disk 2 for paging/swap file and temporary files
  • Disk 3 for data

Disk 1 and disk 2 only require to be replicated once per day. Replication of the page disk could be needed to reserve the storage in the DR site. Actually as the virtual machine will restart in the secondary site is case of a disaster, the replicated paging/swap files will be overwritten at startup.

Automation makes DR much easier. 6 participants of the Garner study were using VMware Site Recovery Manager. One customer was using Hyper-V Replica with system Center Orchestrator, one company was using Zerto Virtual Replication,  <note: Veeam Backup & Replication does not offer an automated recovery feature on par with the ones mentioned by Gartner)

One of the best features of DR tools is automated test failover to a DR sandbox. This allows failover to be tested without disrupting the production environment. One of the customers is quoted: Virtualization and SRM allow us to eat chips and watch TV during the DR-test.

DR to the cloud

18% of the respondents in a recent Storage Magazine survey are using Disaster Recovery to the cloud (aka Recovery as a Service RaaS). Those were all small companies. Large companies all operate two or more datacenters which are used for DR. Gartner asked 1000 of its clients if they were using cloud for DR purposes. Only one !  was using cloud for DR, another was moving to it. Gartner got the same response on another query to 1000 respondents executed at a later date.

<note from author: I guess most of Garners clients are large organizations. The actuall usage of DRaaS in total will be higher>

So large organizations are not doing DR to the cloud yet.

An issue with DR as a Service is the bandwidth to and from the cloud. Companies are starting to use carrier Ethernet with 1Gbps links to the cloud. When looking for DraaS vendors distance between your location and that of the DraaS provider is an important thing to consider. Even when using 1 Gbps connection if the distance is too far the throughput is low/latency high. Of course the providers location should not be too close either. Gartner recommends something like between 20 and 100 miles away.

Gartner spoke to a Recovery as a Service provider. This provider has a couple of cloud based recovery services. Veeam Backup and Replication was used most by their customers. More information on using Veeam for DR here. 

Very often European organizations are using three datacenters. Two are close to eachother (arond 30 km max). Those two datacenters can be so close to eachother because in Europe there are no earthquakes , hurricanes or other natural disasters hitting a whole region. DR is done using the primary and secondary DC. When datacenters are close together it is easier for staff to get there for maintenance etc.  Some organizations like banks use a third datacenter to store data just to be sure. Or use the cloud as a third datacenter to run webservers. If both datacenters are unavailable at least some critical public facing websites remain available.

Use the Business Continuity Management tools from the cloud (SaaS).
BCM tools offer features like emergency messaging and notification services. Also they offer DR plans, business impact analysis, DR strategy, IT DR planning etc.   This can be very handy to have quick access to when a disaster have happend… <note from author: I am sure you stored Recovery plans in several safe places outside where your production data lives)>

The documentation having instructions how to recover, who to inform, contact details etc can even be accessed from a mobile Phone when using SaaS tools.

Dr-slide6Dr-slide5

Investigate cloud DR for appropiate IT services. Cloud DR is not an all of nothing proposition. You can protect a subset of your applications using cloud DR. Get comfortable with it and extend the usage of Cloud DR when you are comfortable with it.

Test your DR plan regularly, This is what all companies do who participated in the Gartner study. However most of them did not test a failback.

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