Hyper-V shops automate DR courtesy of Citrix Essentials

The DR automation that VMware users enjoy with SRM is now available to Microsoft Hyper-V shops, thanks to Citrix Essentials' Site Recovery feature.

IT shops running Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization can now automate their disaster recovery (DR) processes, in much the same way VMware shops do with VMware's longstanding Site Recovery Manager.

The new DR automation comes by way of Citrix, which is offering it as part of its new Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V 5.5. The StorageLink Site Recovery feature allows users to set up, test and manage a DR plan -- including setup of storage array replication, and the ability to perform "what-if" DR scenarios.

Barry Barnett, senior system engineer at San Leandro, Calif.-based real-time software vendor OSIsoft, provides IT services to a team of 60 developers that run Microsoft Hyper-V on their development workstations, and will use StorageLink Site Recovery to improve disaster recovery.

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"We can't afford to stop working. We need to be able to have our environments come up in any environment based on our DR scenarios," Barnett said.

Barnett characterized StorageLink Site Recovery as very fast and intuitive. It "allows us to replicate our VMs over the network with very little overhead," Barnett said.

OSIsoft originally used virtualization software from VMware, but the company is no longer growing that environment. Instead, it's turning its focus to Hyper-V with Citrix Essentials.

"VMware tools are costly, and I wasn't seeing the value based on their cost," Barnett said.

Tight System Center integration
Site Recovery is available in two Essentials SKUs: Citrix Essentials 5.5 for Microsoft Hyper-V Express Edition and Platinum Edition.

For customers that already run Microsoft System Center, Express Edition is available free for up to four Hyper-V hosts (two at the primary site, and two at the secondary site), with no restrictions on the number of cores or virtual machines (VMs).

Site Recovery's integration with Microsoft System Center is a big deal, said Mark Bowker, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "The potential of being able to drive that DR process through Microsoft System Center -- that's the biggest story here."

David Greschler, Microsoft director of virtualization strategy, said the company has seen a surge of interest in System Center -- its all-in-one management console -- because of virtualization and Hyper-V, specifically.

"We're seeing a lot of sales where the two are being deployed together," said Greschler, who attributed System Center's 30% year-over-year growth largely to a boom in virtualization use.

Customers that would like to expand the use of Site Recovery beyond four hosts can upgrade to Essentials for Hyper-V Platinum Edition, which lists for $3,000 per host and also includes functionality such as lab and stage management, virtual appliance authoring and VM provisioning.

VMware's Site Recovery Manager, meanwhile, continues to see traction in mid-size and enterprise shops, said ESG's Bowker. "We estimate the number of production deployments in the hundreds," he said, but that most of them usually require some level of professional services to implement it properly.

No XenServer support yet
Citrix also offers StorageLink Essentials for its own XenServer virtualization platform; but, interestingly, the XenServer edition does not yet support StorageLink Site Recovery.

Microsoft's Greschler said that because Citrix chose to build out Site Recovery for Hyper-V before XenServer, it shows that Hyper-V is its primary focus.

Biki Malik, Citrix product manager for Essentials for Hyper-V, said that the company plans to add Site Recovery to Essentials for XenServer in the first half of 2010 to coincide with the next major release of XenServer.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Alex Barrett, News Director at abarrett@techtarget.com.

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