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VMware previews future SRM features

In the future, VMware Site Recovery Manager will offer policy-based, multi-tenant disaster recovery for vCloud Director.

That’s according to VMware officials who previewed the Site Recovery Manager (SRM) roadmap during the VMworld 2011 conference last week.

SRM operates at the virtual machine (VM) level today, but the next version will allow for application-level disaster recovery (DR) protection according to policies set by either vSphere administrators or organizational managers, said Ashwin Kotian, a senior product manager for VMware.

“We want to … enable DR similar to how you enable [High Availability],” Kotian said. “Associate a service level, and based on the service level, SRM is going to make sure that [an application] gets provisioned to the right data stores, that it’s properly replicated and that it’s going to be associated with the right recovery plan.”

The next major SRM release will also focus on cloud-based disaster recovery for two scenarios: when users don’t have a secondary site and want to recover using a service provider’s data center, and when users want DR for workloads deployed in either private or public clouds using vCloud Director.

In the first scenario, the next release of SRM will allow users to install DR software at the primary site and automatically configure it by downloading a configuration file from the service provider. Users will also be able to add applications to DR Protection Groups and assign them to recovery plans using the vSphere Client.

In the second scenario, users will be able to select DR protection as a catalog service through vCloud Director.

“At that point, depending on the service level of DR that’s enabled, that vApp will get automatically placed and deployed on the right [organizational Virtual Data Center] which is DR enabled,” Kotian said. “Everything is SLA-based. Everything is service-level-centric.”

Cloud-based disaster recovery is nothing new, Kotian acknowledged. But the goal for VMware is to move end users and service providers away from dedicated DR infrastructure and toward a multi-tenant model, the better to reduce costs, he said.

Kotian also hinted at coming integration between SRM and the VXLAN, another new technology that VMware and Cisco Systems previewed at VMworld. Lower Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) are “something we’re constantly focusing on,” according to Kotian. Integration of VXLAN into SRM would save time during recovery by eliminating the need to reassign IP addresses.

Other upcoming features for SRM include VM-level granularity for both protection and recovery. Today, users can assign VMs individually to a recovery plan, but recovery using array-based replication occurs at the LUN level. New vStorage APIs aim to make the unit of storage management the VM, rather than the LUN, so users can recover VMs individually as well.

Beefed-up security will also be part of future versions of SRM, Kotian said.
“With multi-tenancy … we are also looking at things such as VMDK encryption [and] encrypted traffic across the network pipes between sites,” he said.

It was also revealed during this SRM session that cloud service provider is currently offering a beta version of DR as a Service.

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