VMware automates DR for virtual servers

By Kevin Komiega

VMware has announced a new tool for disaster-recovery management and automation in virtual server environments with the recent launch of VMware Site Recovery Manager, a software product that works with VMware Infrastructure, VMware VirtualCenter, and replication software from third parties to automate disaster-recovery planning, testing, and execution processes.

VMware Site Recovery Manager does a number of things to protect data on virtual servers. The software allows users to create, update, and document disaster-recovery plans directly from VMware VirtualCenter. It also enables non-disruptive testing of those plans and automates execution of the recovery process, eliminating the need for the manual tasks required in traditional disaster-recovery procedures.

“With Site Recovery Manager, disaster recovery becomes an automated process managed from VMware VirtualCenter,” says Jon Bock, VMware’s senior manager of product marketing. “To execute or test a disaster-recovery plan, a user simply clicks a button to start the automated test or recovery.”

As if the current wave of end users adopting server virtualization technology were not big enough, Stephanie Balaouras, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, says VMware’s efforts to improve disaster recovery in VMware Infrastructure environments could take customer interest and adoption to another level.

“To really achieve the benefits of server virtualization, such as the flexibility and the mobility you need to have your ESX servers networked to shared storage, Site Recovery Manager requires replication,” says Balaouras. “It will help sell more storage and encourage companies to adopt replication.”

According to a recent Forrester study, x86 Server Virtualization For High Availability And Disaster Recovery, 49% of enterprise server decision-makers who are implementing or interested in server virtualization indicate that improving disaster recovery and business continuity continues to be a very important motivation for adoption.

“When you have a virtual server environment networked to shared storage, and you’re able to replicate data and virtual machines to the alternate site, it facilitates a much faster restore as well as the ability to maximize the use of the redundant infrastructure investment at the alternate site,” says Balaouras. “For example, you may want to run application development and testing at the alternate site and in the event of an actual disaster or just a test, you would suspend those virtual machines and start up the production virtual machines.”

Balaouras says Site Recovery Manager will not only reduce errors and recovery times, but also will automate the entire disaster-recovery process and improve RTOs dramatically without the cost and complexity of solutions such as geographically dispersed clustering.

VMware’s parent company, EMC, is among several vendors to officially announce support for Site Recovery Manager. EMC has tested and qualified a new set of replication software adapters, including SRDF (Symmetrix Remote Data Facility), Celerra Replicator, MirrorView, and RecoverPoint, all of which will be integrated with Site Recovery Manager to ensure existing EMC customers can make use of Site Recovery Manager. The storage adapters will be available from VMware for free to customers with a Site Recovery Manager license when the product is generally available.

Several additional vendors are expected to have support for Site Recovery Manager available within the next 90 days, including Dell, FalconStor Software, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, LeftHand Networks, NetApp, 3PAR, and others.

Since disaster recovery ranks as one of the most critical priorities in IT, Balaouras expects other storage vendors to quickly follow suit and “leap at the opportunity” to be certified with Site Recovery Manager. “Given the adoption of server virtualization and VMware in particular, integration should be an important priority for every storage vendor,” she says.

Site Recovery Manager pricing is similar to VMware Infrastructure pricing, as it is based on the number of processors in the servers running virtual machines under protection.

Customers can purchase the product in a variety of ways. The first option is as an a la carte purchase for a list price of $1,750 per processor. The second is as part of the new VMware Site Recovery Manager Acceleration Kit Promotional Bundle, which includes VMware VirtualCenter and six-processor versions of VMware Infrastructure Enterprise and Site Recovery Manager at a price of $27,833. The third option is the VMware Management & Automation Promotional Bundle, which, according to Bock, will be the preferred offering for most customers. The Management & Automation Promotional Bundle includes two-processor versions of VMware Site Recovery Manager, VMware Lab Manager, VMware Stage Manager, and VMware Lifecycle Manager for $3,995. The promotional bundles will be available until December 2008.

This article was originally published on June 01, 2008