On Tuesday, Symantec announced Veritas Cluster Server (VCS) 5.0 for VMware, making ESX 3.x the first hypervisor-based platform covered by the venerable high availability and failover software.
To date, Symantec VCS has been available for traditional open systems platforms including Solaris, IBM AIX, HP-UX, Linux, and Windows.
The decision to port VCS to ESX was pushed along by Symantec's customers, said Dan Lamorena, Symantec senior product marketing manager. "VMware has done a great job getting more production apps running in a virtual environment, but IT managers feel that they have all their eggs in one basket," he said. "If something should go wrong with that server, they're in a world of hurt."
Once installed on ESX, VCS monitors individual virtual machines (VMs) and applications. If one fails, VCS organizes an orderly shut down and restarts the application on a known good ESX host.
What's unique about VCS for VMware is that it runs within the ESX hypervisor and not within VMs. This approach is "much better, more scalable," than the alternative, said Brian Babineau, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, MA. By running VCS on the ESX server console, plus a lightweight agent within the VM, "you have a much more performance-friendly architecture," he said.
In general, the release of VCS for VMware speaks volumes for virtualization's increasing maturity, Babineau said. "We're seeing a second wave of server virtualization technology adoption. [IT managers] have been playing around with it in their labs for years; now they want to do the things that they're used to doing – like backup and server clustering – but on VMware."
Complimentary to VMware tools
VMware, for its part, has two high availability and disaster recovery tools of its own. VMware High Availability (HA) and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), which both rely upon VMware Vmotion, were announced this past summer as part of the company's VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) release.
But according to Symantec's Lamorena, VMware's tools are "more focused on planned rather than unplanned downtime. If something were to happen to the application itself, Vmotion wouldn't be able to help."
ESG's Babineau concurred. "Those tools will help you, but only if the VM is 'stateful,' he said. If the VM is 'stateless,' then "you have to shut it down and move it over."
Symantec has placed VCS for VMware in the hands of select beta customers and is demonstrating it at VMworld in Los Angeles this week. General availability is scheduled for January, at which point pricing will be announced.
Competing high availability clustering software includes Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS) and Linux HA.
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