How storage replication boosts virtual disaster recovery

Storage replication is a vital component of a virtual disaster recovery plan. VMware Site Recovery Manager uses storage replication to copy data between storage systems.

Virtualization inherently makes disaster recovery (DR) easier, but there are certain requirements that need to

be in place to make virtual disaster recovery possible. One of the more popular routes is to have a fully automated DR product for VMware environments. VMware’s vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a turnkey product that works with 15 top storage vendors to deliver integrated virtual disaster recovery through storage replication.

These storage vendors produce storage replication adapters (SRAs) for use within Site Recovery Manager for various products. The drivers work to coordinate the replication of data between the storage systems, facilitating virtual disaster recovery.

One of the key requirements for Site Recovery Manager to work is storage replication. This is effectively a behind-the-scenes task that copies the VMware data store contents to the remote storage system in the DR site. It’s coordinated by the storage controller to replicate the contents to the remote site for successful virtual disaster recovery. Storage replication to a remote site with Site Recovery Manager requires an investment in bandwidth.

A different approach to virtual disaster recovery from Site Recovery Manager is tools that focus on workload protection. This can be protecting a single virtual machine (VM) at a time through a number of tools. These virtual disaster recovery tools can require less bandwidth than the storage system approach, but it can lack centralized management. 

Workload protection tools fill the gap between fully automated DR with storage replication. Products such as Vizioncore’s vConverter can protect individual VMs -- or physical systems -- to a new destination.

One option also exists where storage replication isn’t available, yet a fully automated virtual disaster recovery plan is required. Novell’s PlateSpin Forge appliance allows organizations to perform continuous physical-to-virtual or virtual-to-virtual conversions on selected systems, creating a protected workload.

The Forge appliance can reside in a separate location and allows the protected workloads to be continuously replicated to the embedded ESX data store available to the Forge appliance. Forge can automate the failover for a seamless experience as well as provide managed failback.

About the author 
Rick Vanover (vanover-rick@usa.net), vExpert, VCP, MCITP, MCTS, MCSA, is a virtualization expert in Columbus, Ohio. He is an IT veteran specializing in virtualization, server hardware, operating system support and technology management. Follow Rick on Twitter @RickVanover and click here for Rick’s blogger disclosure.

This was first published in January 2011

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