VMware and Symantec Virtualize Disaster Recovery

What’s one of the most compelling reasons companies have for deploying virtualization technologies these days? Disaster recovery.

According to The 451 Group’s “V For Virtualization” report, 62 percent of enterprises surveyed say they look to virtualization for helping them support their disaster recovery and business continuity scenarios. That ranks it just behind server consolidation, testing and development as a key driver for the technology.

“In general, disaster recovery is emerging as the next big thing for people to do as they realize businesses are global and business is 24/7,” says Jason Nadeau, group product manager for Symantec’s Virtual Cluster Server software. “Certainly there are multiple ways to approach the disaster recovery problem. The spectrum of solutions differ in how fast it takes to recover. For disaster recovery for mission-critical applications that you need to get up as fast as possible a lot of automation is required.”

Virtualization is all about automation. Leading virtualization platform provider VMware, for instance, has offered High Availability technology for automatically restarting virtual machines residing on failed servers on other physical servers with spare capacity. In her keynote speech at the VMworld conference this week, CEO Diane Green called out the importance of disaster recovery for virtualization players, calling it “a huge factor driving application of virtualization.”

This week, both vendors have delivered products that speak to the issue. VMware announced VMware Site Recovery Manager, a product the company says is designed to simplify and automate the disaster recovery process so that customers can reliably recover from data center outages in hours rather than days. The new software is supposed to make it easier to set up recovery plans, using its Virtual Center technology as a centralized management point, as well as deliver automated failover and easier testing of those failover scenarios.

Symantec released version 5.1 of its VCS software for VMware ESX.

“Disaster recovery is probably growing in importance in server virtualization environments because of the multiple eggs in one basket phenomenon,” said Brian Schwartz, Symantec director, product marketing. “But people see it as much more realistic and achievable on the cost side,” because it doesn’t require the maintenance of exact-copy boxes of existing production systems.

VCS 5.1, which now adds support for application environments including Microsoft Exchange and SAP, is designed to take an end-to-end view of applications, detecting and taking action if anything in that chain goes awry, Symantec said. That includes the application, the guest OS, the virtual machine, virtual resources, physical server and underlying storage, enabling failover to another server if there’s a problem with any of these components.

Additionally, Symantec says that it is able to streamline and centralize administration across applications on both physical and virtual servers for companies running versions of VCS in both environments, because they can use a single console to monitor and take actions. That could include taking on VMware functions such as initiating Vmotions from the Symantec console.

“Since we take the applicaton view and see the apps inside the virtual machines, there’s a good chance the app or HA system administrator will want to use our console to move applications around for performance reasons and just have Vmotion initiated right out of our console,” says Nadeau.

For virtualized environments, companies also can store a snapshot of the last known good copy of a virtual machine and immediately fail over to that if the existing virtual machine is somehow corrupted.
Symantec also has added support for high-end Hitachi storage device’s TrueCopy replication, and introduced CPU-based pricing, starting at $2,395 per socket.

Article first appeared on bITa-Planet.com.

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