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Disaster recovery plan for small server

Posted on 2014-07-29
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Hi, we have a Dell server running on Win2008 R2.  There are 4 VMs running under Hyper-V.  These VMs are a Domain Controller, a Terminal Services server, an Exchange 2010 server and another VM that serves the accounting dept.

There is an office located quite a distance away but in the same building.  This office has a network connection to the main office via Ethernet cabling.

I would like a simple disaster recovery method for an offsite backup.

What I was thining of is to have a NAS, like a Synology NAS that will backup the VMs automatically twice a day or so.  This NAS will be located at this distanced office.  Is there any downside to this?

Another method is more expensive but perhaps an identical server located at this distanced office that replicates the VMs at the main office.

Thoughts and suggestions?
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Question by:Soho_Dan
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by:Lee W, MVP
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Is there a reason you wouldn't upgrade to (if necessary) Hyper-V 2012R2 (the free version if necessary) and use Hyper-V replica?
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by:Lee W, MVP
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(BTW, you need volume licenses since OEM licenses are non-Transferable).
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by:Soho_Dan
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The plan is to upgrade to Win2012 R2 with Hyper-V installation.  If I were to use Hyper-V replication, wouldn't I need another Win2012 R2 server to make these two servers into a cluster?
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by:Lee W, MVP
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A cluster is a group of servers as few as two that can provide continuous availability of hosted resources with little more than a "blip" interruption in connectivity.

Replica creates a copy of a VM on one or two other servers and is used for DR - you would only activate the replica if the main copy were to be down for an extended period of time due to, for example, power failure, fire, theft, tornado, hurricane, alien invasion, etc.

A Hyper-V cluster can be done using the free hyper-v and two physical servers.  If you want to cluster other resources, then you need two Win2012 servers.

What EXACTLY do you want to do - your question was initially about DR - Clusters are not about DR, they are about HA.
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by:Soho_Dan
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Thanks.  However, I don't quite understand how to get replication going using Hyper-V and two physical servers.  Are you saying two physical servers in total?  One in the main office and one at the remote office (but same building)?  If so, how would I go about setting them up?
I thought replication only works in a Win2012 cluster environment?
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Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
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No idea why you thought replication works only in a cluster environment.

Please read:
Hyper-V Replica Overview
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj134172.aspx

To familiarize yourself with what I'm talking about.  If you have questions about that article, please ask for clarification.
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by:Steve
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few things to clarify:

by 'offiste' do you mean at the other office within the same building or somewhere completely offsite?

When you mention a 'simple disaster recovery' could you be more specific as to what you actually want?
IE what kind of downtime are you hoping for? (weeks, days, hours or minutes)
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by:Soho_Dan
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By offsite, it is the other office within the same building.  This building is very long.  So if there is a fire at the main office, it won't affect the other office where the offsite server will be located.  
When I mentioned simple disaster recovery, a downtime of days is acceptable.
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by:Lee W, MVP
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So what happens in a storm knocks out power to the region for weeks?  Is that acceptable?  (Offsite in a different geographic location is important to MOST (but not all) businesses... just want to help you make sure your business is ok with such possibilities).
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by:Steve
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Thanks for the clarification. well, accepting upto a few days downtime certainly reduces the complexity and cost of your options.
I also agree there are concerns about how 'offsite' a backup is if it is still within the same building, but this is something you'll have to consider.

anyway, heres a few things to think about:
if you choose to just take 'backups' of the VMs, what would you restore them to in the event of a disaster? would you keep a spare server on standby or would you factor in time to buy a replacement server?
could you afford additional licenses for your software? AD replicates by design to additional DCs. exchange can replicate between multiple servers & the TS is pretty easy to swap across to a similar server setup in advance
would backups stored in as single location be a risk to the business, as this single location could fail leaving you with no backups for a time.

if you could have a think about these thoughts it could help me provide suggestions for you.
take care with whatever advice we give though, as disaster recovery is a huge area and is critical for you business. research any suggestions you get in forums before letting the future of your business rely on them.
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by:Soho_Dan
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Thanks everyone for the info.  

Lee:  A disaster is something that happened when the data is completely destroyed including the local backups.  Fire, flood, earthquake and such are considered a disaster.  Power outage is not considered a disaster even if it is for a long period of time and covers a regional area because the server and data are not destroyed.

Totallytonto:  There are only 4 VMs as per my original question.  If need be, we can purchase a new server and restore the VMs to this new server.  I'm not worried about licenses because we have non-oem licenses.  If we need to purchase licenses, again, this is not a problem if we really are in need of getting the server up and running.

There is a backup already but it is stored in the same office as where the server is located.

This offsite office which is in the same physical building I was referring to is really far away. I'm not kidding when I said far away.  Let's say about 2 to 3 football fields away. We are not in the flood or earthquake zone so that's not a worry for us.  Fire is more likely to happen if there is a diaster.

It seems no one has experience with replicating the VMs to a NAS to answer this question.

We might mostlly go with Hyper-V replcation or even just backing up the backups from the main office.
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by:Steve
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Lee:  A disaster is something that happened when the data is completely destroyed including the local backups.  Fire, flood, earthquake and such are considered a disaster.  Power outage is not considered a disaster even if it is for a long period of time and covers a regional area because the server and data are not destroyed.
not true mate. the term 'disaster' differs from company to company, but power outages are normally counted as a disaster by most companies.

The term disaster usually applies to any interruption in services critical to the business.

It seems no one has experience with replicating the VMs to a NAS to answer this question.
hang on. don't jump the gun there mate. Disaster Recovery is a huge subject and we need to check some info before being able to provide suitable advice. I've done VM backups to a NAS, but I'm trying to establish if this it's a viable option in your circumstances before waving advice around carelessly....

based on your answers so far, you could certainly consider NAS backups of your VMs if you choose. replicating the VMs to  a new server would be much more expensive but much quicker to get up and running. Your answers suggest timescales aren't too important so I suspect having a replica ready on a spare server may be overkill in your case.

If you take image backups of your VMs to a NAS at the other office you'll certainly achieve what you want and youre happy that you could purchase a new server and just restore them within your intended timescales so, yea that seems viable.

I'd recommend selecting a suitable backup application to ensure the backups are reliable. Acronis, Symantec system restore & many others can take 'images' of your systems which would be fine for what you need. They don't tend to be very clever with live applications though so exchange, AD  & SQL may not be in a 'clean state' after a restore (meaning a but of extra work to 'fix' them after restoring the to the new server)
proper versions of backup exec can do the whole deal including applications if you get the right 'agents' and can backup full images ready for restore to a VM if necessary.

the issue you'll have is actually restoring them to a VM host. this is definitely something you'll need to test to ensure it works how you expect. if the NAS isn't 'compatible' with the backup software you are using it can be a little more fiddly but it's still possible.
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