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BCDR Solutions Compared - VMware

Posted on 2011-09-10
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I'm comparing 4 solutions for a BCDR design and would appreciate any thoughts - I value the opportunity to learn from peers.
Customer has 3 VMware 4.0 ESXi hosts hosting 14 guests.  All guests are WIndows servers (2k3-2k8r2) and include 2 2k5 sql servers and 2k10 exchange.  EMC nx4 SAN.
Comparing QuorumLabs appliances, Datto Backup appliances, AppAssure and VMware SRM 5.
The appliances are mainly backup/restore (dr) devices but incorporate the option to "instant virtualize" one or more servers.  
Compare these for business continutiy to SRM.  Configure 2 or more appliances, backup every 15 - 30 minutes and replicate to the co-located appliance(s),  Declare a disaster and bring up the DR site by mounting your servers up on the appliances.  Access via Citrix or VPN.
SRM will do the same but implements, wll you know, differently.  More hardware needed, etc.
Failback many ways with the appliances from incremental restore to bare metal restore depending on the disaster.  SRM 5 greatly improves failback from earlier versions.

Which way would you go or is there a better solution.  Again, thanks for reading and sharing any thoughts.

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Question by:RFloyd30
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by:paulsolov
ID: 36518061
How are you looking to do replication?  SAN level or VM level?

If VM level taek a look Veeam or Vizioncre vReplicator products as well.  Fairly simple and quick deployment methodology.
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by:RFloyd30
ID: 36518078
Nice and thank you - Vizioncre was on the list to review but have not.  

We have the option of doing SAN to SAN or VM level.  VM level attractive due to cost and for this case only 7 VM's would need to be in the DR site.  These are core servers and are needed for core business.  
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by:paulsolov
ID: 36518096
I have done this more than a few times for small environment such as your.  

The SAN to SAN is nice but fairly expensive unless you actually use the SAN at the DR site for production reasons.

Vizioncore works well with the new ESXi support is not bad but I think Veeam is a bit more refined and like Vizioncore can do backup and replication.

Keep in mind that you will need to re-ip the VMs, and if everything is encapusalated inside of the VMDK it should be simple and easy to test in a bubble (just like SRM but slightly more work and no reporting).  

For Exchange I would recommend setting up DAG, it is a bit more expensive (requires Windows 2008 Enterprise at both sites and CAS Servers) but it is a realtime solution, especially if you configure a secondary MX record.

SQL would require VMWare tools to have VSS enabled so that you can quiesce it properly

For RPO (30 minutes) that would depend on data rate change and bandwidth.
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Author Comment

by:RFloyd30
ID: 36518964
I just looked at the Veeam solution - on the surface looks like a backup solution only?  What would be the BCDR solution?  Replicate to DR site and restore to VM servers in the DR site when needed?

With SRM, the DR VM's will have same IPs of the production servers like you say, which gives a number of options.  We will VPN to the DR site too.

Anyone used AppAssure or the other solutions?

Thanks again for the all the input.
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by:paulsolov
ID: 36519157
Veem will do the same thing just on the VM level as SRM, the VMs will have the same IP. The problem arises when you have a VPN and you have a different subnet at the DR site.  If you keep it isolated and just keep your ESX hosts and SAN on the different VLAN that will work and since the VMs are replicates the IP is the same.  If no one is using the DR site you can keep the IPs the same on a different VLAN that doesn't route to the primary site.  

There are many ways to do this, you will need to do a cost/benefit analysis.  I have installed SRM many times and it is quite expensive for the small environment and requires a SAN at the DR site.
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Author Comment

by:RFloyd30
ID: 36520562
On the issue of a SAN having to be at the DR site... VMware's SRM documentation list this in its features section: " •Eliminate requirement for having identical storage arrays across sites"
This would assist in some cost savings.

Which solution is preferred, Veem or SRM if this solution is chosen over the appliances.  

Thanks
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Author Comment

by:RFloyd30
ID: 36520586
I should have asked which is preferred, VM level replication or using a SAN to SAN replication? Not SRM vs Veem.  Are there other vendors that perform the underlying replication and plugs into SRM?

Thanks
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paulsolov earned 500 total points
ID: 36520704
Most likely you're looking at SRM 5.0 which just came out.  I prefer Veeam/vRanger for smaller installations and SRM for larger installations where there is a need for change control, large number of ip changes, scripting, and automation.
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