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VMWARE hot standby server

Posted on 2009-05-12
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I'm new to VMWARE and need someone to get me started. My project requirements are the following:

I need to take a physical server and convert it to virtual.
The virtual server needs to run on ESXi.
This virtual server needs a live hot standby server. The standby server will be at a remote location (VPN connectivity).

I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what I need from VMWARE's website and would prefer to hear from an experienced tech the best way to proceed. What products will I need to purchase to make this happen?



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Question by:FIFBA
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by:3nerds
ID: 24365075
FIFBA,

A couple of questions for you.

1. Do you have shared storage? SAN, NAS, ETC?
2. Are you currently looking at any disaster recovery software/hardware solutions?
3. How big is your connection at each end of this VPN?

I will try to help you swallow this question in pieces because it is elephant in size.

Regards,

3nerds
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Author Comment

by:FIFBA
ID: 24365208
1.No shared storage. Most of the data is application data and resides on the same server as the application. This is why we are wanting to virtualize. Having a copy of the data itself does not minimize our downtime...quite the opposite. Would take a while to rebuild this system from scratch.

2. I am wanting to see what capabilities VMWARE has for a disaster recovery/hot standby scenario.

3. The slowest connection is  a 3meg dsl line.

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by:za_mkh
ID: 24365350
You could use solutions, like vRanger / vreplicator to get your VM to your DR site if you using ESX / ESXi.
http://www.vizioncore.com/products/vReplicator/
 
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by:3nerds
ID: 24365352
FIFBA,

Firstly some form of shared storage connected to VMware is where it gets its versility from.

Right now if your machine would die, weather it is a VM or a physical machine. It would mean that you would have some down time. The only difference would be that with the VM machine you would be restoring a flat file that is your actual machine. In the physical world you would rebuild the machine and restore the appication data. Restoring the flat file VM is faster but not where it could be.

It soulds like to me  (please let me know if I am incorrect in my assumption) that you would like to be able to have this "Application Server" back up and running in little to no time? And then also be able to have the VM ready to run at a DR site should something bad happen.

Am I on the right track?
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by:nappy_d
ID: 24365524
I know you don't want a NAS/SAN for storage but it is the best way to go for DR. http://download3.vmware.com/demos/dr/index.html

Also checkout these docs on DR from VMWare http://www.vmware.com/solutions/continuity/disasterrecovery.html
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Author Comment

by:FIFBA
ID: 24365766
Thanks for all the help so far. 3Nerds... My main concern is that I can get my client up as soon as possible. I am realistic about this however. I don't expect their systems to be back up in a matter of minutes. But if their server should die, for example, it would be nice to take the DR site server, make some minor modifications to it, and move it to the customer premises until a new server can be ordered, etc. In this case, I would also have the option to have employees work from the DR site in the event of fire, etc. Is shared storage necessary for this? Almost all of the data is used by the application server and is not needed by other systems.
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3nerds earned 500 total points
ID: 24365984
Let pull this scenario into on building for simplicity and then expand.

So if you have a VMware server1 running ESX (full not ESXi) and then convert your physical server to virtual you would then be up and running on the new ESX system. Taking that a step further now say you want redundancy, you want the ability to have this VM back up and running again asap. At that point if the storage location for the VM host was on a SAN or NAS you could simply add a second VMhost server2 in as a VMware cluster and turn on HA. This would mean that if VMhost1(physical server) would die it would automatically bring the box up on the second VMware host giving you down time only as long as it would take for the vm to start up.

Now in your scenario you want to accomplish this but over a WAN link. There are software and hardware ways of doing this. I prefer the hardware way but that is just personal preference. In an idea situation I would setup a VMware cluster connected to a SAN at that main site, giving redundancy there. I would then do that same thing at a DR site and use one of a couple different methods to sync the vm machine files between the SAN devices. This achieves more even than what you are looking to accomplish but then again it was my "perfect scenario".

Don't confuse Vmware clusters with MS clustering service.

If money is tight then you can look into a solution like what za-mkh recommended. I do not have experience with that specific product but what it will do is allow you to sync the locally stored vm server file to another server at a second location.

Hope this helps.

3nerds
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Author Comment

by:FIFBA
ID: 24366365
I appreciate your help and will use your suggestions to develop a final plan. One more quick question....What is the difference between ESX and ESXi. I'm assuming cost but what features does ESX have that ESXi does not?
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by:3nerds
ID: 24366422
Vmotion, HA and DRS

Vmotion - allows you to move one vm between VMhosts without the virtual server needing to be powered down

HA - High Availability - It is simple redundancy, allowing a VM to be brought up on a different VMhost if the one it is running on should die

DRS - Dynamic Resource Scheduling - It gives you the ability to set server loads based on rules. You can tell the vm's to move to different VMhosts should you need more processing. It is also used to balance load between multiple VMhosts.

ESXi is there as a competitor to Xen and MS2008 including VM capabilities. You use the product and like it and then have to purchase the advanced features.

Regards,

3nerds
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