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Implementation of VMWare for Disaster Recovery

I'm implementing an off site Disaster Recovery infrastructure using VMWare.
We're looking to have 3 physical servers that will be layers with roughly half a dozen VM servers total (2-3 VM's per physical device)
What is the best way to backup the existing servers to VM's on a scheduled basis?
What admin tools do i need to monitor resourced and to move VM's from on physical device to the next?
Any other tips or opinions will be helpful.
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darren_rash
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darren_rash
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1 Solution
 
chipsexpertCommented:
Those are going to have to be some BEEFY servers to run 2-3 VM's per machine. The way my company does offsite back is the following, We have a few frontend quad core servers, 8GB of RAM, tied into a 5TB SAN.

Program wise, we use Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 7, we take 15-minute snapshot disk-to-disk onsite to a dedicated server and then ship them offsite to our datacenter.

Using our LOB app, we monitor the client servers. If a server crashes, the image automically loads itself(through scripting) on a dedicated VM server onsite at the client. If more than one server goes offline or the site goes down, all the images are immediately converted to VMware images and loaded in our Data Center.

Technology is cool..
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darren_rashAuthor Commented:
We have a significant investment in Acronis.  Is there anyway to tie the 2 together?
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chipsexpertCommented:
I guess if you wanted to, you could backup the images and then ship those offsite. Or, if you store the acronis images onsite you could automate an ftp process to ship them offsite.
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banks1850Commented:
Using VMWare I assume you are going to go with ESX Servers and Virtual infrastructure Center ?  If you are then I would buy the Starter edition and additionally the vmotion package which will allow fail over of vm's from one machine to another Live with no down time.  Not sure I agree with Chipsexpert, depending on what those servers are doing, I don't really think 2 to 3 VM's are a lot for one machine, my company uses DL380s with Quad processors and 16 GB RAM and runs 7 to 8 VM's per Server including Exchange on 2 of them.  Unless those servers are really low end, or the VMs are really intense, it should be fine.    After all that's what VMWare was designed to do.

As to imaging machines, VMWare has a free virtualizing product that will convert your existing hardware servers into images for installation into the server. I have used this product (and it's predecessor) multiple times with great sucess.  Only once did I have a driver issue post conversion, and that was easily fixed.

VMWare has a GREAT website that you can pick up all this info for.  I would suggest checking out ESX Server, VMotion, VMWare HA and VMWare converter
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chipsexpertCommented:
There is also a P to V converter, not sure if that is what banks is talking about which works really good if you know a server is going to die and you want to convert it to a VM image.
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banks1850Commented:
Yep, thats what I was thinking of.  Some folks out there say it doesn't work as well as 3rd party ones, but I haven't had a failure yet (I have converted about 9 machines into VM's).  I guess if you use whitebox servers this may be more of an issue then with HPs or Dells...etc.
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darren_rashAuthor Commented:
we will be using HP Proliant DL380 G5 servers as well.
any issues configuring them or was it pretty straight forward?

it looks like acronis supports restoring to a virtual machine using Universal Restore (which i already have in use)  it's not exactly instant recovery but...... how long does it usually take to create a VM image of a machine with 100ish gigs of information using VMWare Converter?

right now i'm trying to figure out if we need to run both acronis backups and VMConverter backups simultaneously

the acronis backups are awesome for backing up systems for onsite recovery, the VM's will be used purely for a DR solution
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banks1850Commented:
For 100 GB it can be anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes or more depending on file types, hardware, and resources available.  I have never used Acronis with VMWare (I say why use 3rd party when the vendor offers it for free?).  But if that is your flavor, and you are familiar with it, go for it.  My take it, VMWare offers the full boat, better to pay a single vendor for support then multiples.  As to DL380 G5s, we are running that way now, install is a snap, no issues that I am aware of.  
Question darren:  Did you say this is purely a DR solution?  So you aren't using the VMWare for production?  You know if you used the 3 machines in a VMWare cluster with VMWare HA and Vmotion you could skyrocket your performance while having a very high fault tolerance?  3 G5s with HA and VMotion is really a great model for Medium Business Virtualization (10 vms on this would be no problem for the cluster).  
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darren_rashAuthor Commented:
banks1850: yes this initially will be purely DR.  I'm hoping that when i get some experience under my belt with this i can make the case to get a duplicate system inhouse.  I'll be clustering them at the DR site:  

my understanding so far is that this configuration should be sufficient:
3 x HP Proliant DL380 G5's running ESX Server and VMFS
1 x 2TB SAN

am i correct in assuming that ESX Server and VMFS can run on the same physical machine? or do i need another server to just run VMFS?
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banks1850Commented:
Well, If you mean the VMFS platform will be running a SAN from the same box as the ESX server then yes, that shouldn't be an issue.  Thanks for the points!  Good luck.
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