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Disaster Recovery for VMware workloads – choosing the right path

Andy Hine

Protecting your mission critical data is vital to avoid the negative consequences that would come should data be lost or leaked, but this does not mean the solution has to be complex. The key to a strong and resilient disaster recovery (DR) solution is the technology that lies behind it, yet in such a saturated market, it is no wonder that choosing the right technology for your business can seem like a minefield.

There are certain key considerations to think about when choosing what type of DR strategy is right for your business, including:

  • Identifying the RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective) required by different applications
  • Evaluating the level of complication to replatform your workloads
  • Assessing the need to run non-disruptive DR tests
  • Considering the reliability of the DR infrastructure

For the large number of organisations running enterprise workloads on VMware infrastructure, the good news is that when it comes to planning a DR strategy and finding an appropriate DR solution, there is a good deal of choice.  Before we explore some of those options in more detail, it’s worth highlighting why choosing a VMware DR solution may be preferable to other options:

  • Consistent management – Organisations can operate under the same tooling and consistent management that internal teams are used to due to a consistent VMware environment across production and DR sites. By using a VMware based solution, there is no learning curve as teams would use the same vCenters they use to manage the DR site.
  • Workload integrity – there is a danger that when businesses recover onto native solutions, it may use its own tolling and convert the VM into a native workload – damaging its integrity and increasing the complexity of rollback methods. VCDR and SRM keep VMs in their native format, eliminating brittle VM conversions that slow down recovery.

The main technologies that support VMware workloads include:

  • Site Recovery Manager
  • VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery
  • VEEAM

Site Recovery Manager

Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is VMware’s industry-leading disaster recovery (DR) management solution, designed to minimise downtime in case of a disaster. It provides policy-based management, automated orchestration, and non-disruptive testing of centralised recovery plans. It is designed for virtual machines and scalable to manage all applications in a vSphere environment. SRM automates and orchestrates failover and failback, ensuring minimal downtime in a disaster. Built-in non-disruptive testing ensures your recovery time objectives are met.

Key features of SRM

  • Policy based management – SRM uses policy-driven automation to protect thousands of virtual machines easily using centralised recovery plans managed from the vSphere Web Client.
  • Compatible with any storage – organisations can practice flexibility and variety through native integration with vSphere Replication, Virtual Volumes (vVols), and array-based replication solutions from all major VMware storage partners.
  • RTO – Enables fast and highly predictable recovery time objective
  • Hybrid Cloud ready – Site Recovery Manager is available as a perpetual license or as a service through VMware Site Recovery for VMware Cloud on AWS. VMware Site Recovery is a separate service, but it is built on top of Site Recovery Manager and vSphere Replication. VMware Site Recovery provides on-demand disaster recovery as a service to protect your workloads both on-premises and on VMware Cloud on AWS. The service automates workload recovery in a DR event between on-premises data centres and VMware Cloud on AWS, as well as between different instances of VMware Cloud on AWS. It replicates workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS, allowing you to spin them up whenever you need them.
  • Multi-Cloud ready – SRM can be utilised with Azure and Google cloud as DR failover targets for on-premises and cloud workloads.
SRM Disaster Recovery Site Replication

VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery (VCDR)

VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery is an easy-to-use, on-demand disaster recovery (DR) solution, delivered as SaaS, with cloud economics. VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery enables businesses to optimally assess and balance technical capabilities in the cloud, making the process more time and cost efficient. VCDR is a tiered approach to disaster recovery (DR) that helps businesses balance reliable protection and efficient allocation of DR resources.

Key features of VCDR

  • Health checks – increases reliability with automatic health checks of the DR plan every 30minutes and daily data integrity checks to confirm that the backup data is ready and usable when needed
  • Pilot Light – provision a small failover footprint capacity in the cloud and scale on-demand
  • VCDR simplifies DR maintenance operations with SaaS-based management console
  • Cost optimisation – reduces costs of DRaaS by leveraging a highly efficient storage layer in the cloud and by leveraging the elasticity of cloud computing to spin up VMware Cloud on AWS infrastructure only when needed during a DR testing or failover event. VCDR simplifies costs where customers pay for the DR service based on how much data and VMs are being protected
  • RTO – VCDR speeds production-level RTO with Pilot Light clusters and Instant VM Power-on using Live Mount capability
VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery infrastructure

VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery is a Disaster Recovery as-a-service (DRaaS) solution that can be used to cost-effectively protect a broad set of your virtualised applications, with fast recovery capabilities.

VMware Site Recovery is also a DRaaS solution that can be used to protect mission-critical applications that have a very low RPO and RTO.

VMware Site Recovery Manager is an enterprise software solution, deployed and managed by you in your data centre to facilitate DR protection to a secondary DR datacentre that you manage yourself.

Yes, you can use multiple DR solutions to protect all of your workloads. Each can be used to protect a different set of your IT applications.

Veeam

Veeam enables any organisation to achieve unparalleled modern data protection through data resiliency, trust and dexterity across data centres, at the edge, and in the cloud. Veeam protects businesses from data loss with backup and recovery technology from Veeam.

Key features of Veeam

  • Continuous data protection – Continuous Data Protection (CDP) is one of the new features released with Veeam v11 and is aimed squarely at mission critical applications. It provides a near-zero recovery point objective (RPO) and provides ultra-low recovery time objectives (RTOs) by relying on replica virtual machines in a “ready to go” state.
  • Hardened Linux Repository – Veeam has supported a number of repository technologies allowing for flexibility of choice for the customers. This has included utilising Windows and Linux servers or SMB or NAS based appliances. Veeam v11 has introduced the capabilities to harden this Linux appliance to allow for immutable backups protecting against malware, hackers, and insider protection against a malicious employee.
  • Archive to cloud – Veeam v11 has introduced an archiving capability utilising Amazon Glacier and Microsoft Azure Archive Blob Storage. This is an addition to the capacity tier that previously existed in V10 of the product. Veeam will handle the moving to the archive tier for archiving, which offers great options for data that you may be required to store for compliance reasons but typically don’t expect to restore from, such as WORN data (Write Once Read Never). Veeam have also introduced multiple restoration options to allow the end-user to control the restore speed and therefore the associated costs.
Veeam Back up DRaaS Infrastucture

>> To find out more information about Veeam, download this datasheet or visit our webpage.

Site Recovery Manager VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery Veeam
Service Type Self-managed On demand DRaaS Self-managed
Failover Fast RTOs using pre-provisioned failover capacity Live mount when capacity is available Basic Runbook functionality in Veeam Backup & Replication

Disaster Recovery Orchestrator – Add On product
Recovery Point Objective Array based

As low as 5 minutes with vSAN at the protected site, or 15 minutes without vSAN
Lowest scheduled VM snapshot to be 30 minutes

Data on top brought back from backup
Lowest RPO circa 15mins
Scaling Storage required at target to cover total VM replication (larger footprint)

No auto scaling if target is on-premise

Auto host scaling if target is VMware Cloud on AWS, base SDDC required
VM data stored in Scale Out Cloud File System - not required at target until failover so allows smaller entry SDDC (pilot light)

SDDC provisioned either on demand or auto scaled from pilot light

Further auto host scaling if required in VMware Cloud on AWS
Storage required at backup repository to cover total VM replication

Compute must be in place at target to run ‘restored’ workloads

Auto host scaling if target is VMware Cloud on AWS
On premise integration SRM Server and vSphere replication appliance

Sufficient cloud connectivity for VMware Cloud on AWS
DRaaS connector appliance

Sufficient cloud connectivity for VMware Cloud on AWS
Veeam Backup Server and Backup Proxy

Veeam Backup Repositories (inc. Cloud Storage such as Amazon S3)
VM based replication Array based (private to private) or vSphere Replication only for VMC on AWS VM snapshot based replication via DRaaS connector to Scale out cloud file system VM level back ups / host replication. Supports replication to VMC on AWS as a target

Next steps

There are multiple options available for businesses looking to modernise and refresh their disaster recovery strategies.

Being VMware’s most qualified UK Principal Partner, Xtravirt are best positioned in the market to assist organisations with Disaster Recovery solutions. 

We design, deliver and operate IT solutions to ensure that businesses are getting the maximum value out of their IT environment. Whether it is a DR refresh or creating an entire cloud security roadmap, Xtravirt offer a consultative and bespoke approach to protect mission critical data.

To find out more about how we can help, arrange a call back from one of our industry leading consultants

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