Using Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner in VMware environments

When you have the need to implement Disaster Recovery scenarios towards Azure particularly in complex environments, through the solution Azure Site Recovery (ASR), you can use the Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner, recently released by Microsoft, to make a detailed assessment of the on-premises environment. The tool is designed to cover both Hyper-V and VMware environments . In this article, we will detail the use of the tool when you are trying to activate a Disaster Recovery plan with replication of VMware virtual machines to Azure.

What is the use of this tool?

ASR Deployment Planner performs a detailed assessment of the on-premises environment, aimed at using the solution Azure Site Recovery (ASR), and provides elements to consider in order to contemplate the various operations needed to effectively implement the plan of DR: replica, virtual machine failover and DR-Drill. The tool also performs an estimate of Azure resources required for the protection of on-premises virtual machines, reporting information about costs for the use of ASR.

In the presence of VMware environments if you have the need to address real migration scenarios towards Azure, the most appropriate tool to use to carry out the assessment of the environment is Azure Migrate.

How to use the tool?

The use of ASR Deployment Planner involves two main stages. The first of profiling, during which the necessary information is collected from the environment VMware, and the second of report generation to perform the analysis.

ASR Deployment Planner can be downloaded at this address. This is a compressed folder whose contents should be copied on the system on which you intend to run the tool. ASRDeploymentPlanner.exe is the command line tool that must be executed with the appropriate parameters, there is no required installation.

Profiling and measurement of throughput

The machine on which you intend to make the profiling or calculating the throughput must meet the following requirements:

  • Operating System: Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Hardware requirements: 8 vCPUs, 16 GB RAM and 300 GB HDD.
  • Software Requirements: .Net Framework 4.5, VMware vSphere PowerCLI 6.0 R3, Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012.
  • Internet access to Azure.

In addition the following conditions are required:

  • Presence of an Azure storage account (only if you want to calculate the throughput).
  • VMware vCenter statistics level set at level 2 or higher.
  • Ability to connect to vCenter server/ESXi host on port 443.
  • User with at least Read-only permission to access the VMware vCenter server/VMware vSphere ESXi.

In general it is a good idea to perform the profiling and the calculation of throughput on the Configuration Server you intend to use, or on a system with similar characteristics.

The tool is able to perform the profiling only for virtual machines with RDM and VMDK disks. There is no collection of information of VMs with iSCSI or NFS disks; in this regard it should be noted that Azure Site Recovery does not support virtual machines with these types of disks in a VMware environment.

During the profiling activity the tool connects to the vCenter Server or vSphere ESXi host to collect performance data for virtual machines. This implies that the data collection activities has no impact on the performance of virtual machines because there is no direct connection. The profiling is done once every 15 minutes as not to impact on VMware systems, but the query that is performed, however, collects performance data for all the time interval.

The profiling activity requires the presence of a text file containing the list of virtual machines (a name or an IP address for each row) you intend to examine. This file you can create it manually or, with the following commands, performed from the VMware vSphere PowerCLI console, you can extrapolate the list of all virtual machines on the vCenter or on vSphere ESXi host.

Figure 1 - Extrapolation of VMs from the vCenter

Figure 2 – Example of the file containing the list of VMs

At this point you can begin the profiling process. For production environments it is recommended to run it for at least a week, so you have a sufficiently long period of observation to achieve accurate profiling. To get the complete list of required and optional parameters, you can run the following command: ASRDeploymentPlanner.exe-Operation StartProfiling /?.

Among the optional parameters you can also specify an Azure Storage Account with its key to calculate the throughput that Site Recovery can reach during the replication process to Azure.

Figure 3 -Example of running the profiling

If the server, on which profiling process starts, be rebooted or goes in crash, the data collected would remain and you can simply restart the tool.

The tool can also be used for throughput calculation.

Figure 4 - Example of throughput measurement

The process of measuring the throughput will upload files with extension .VHD on the storage account specified. Upon completion of the upload these files are removed automatically from the storage account.

Report Generation

The machine on which you want to generate the report must have installed Excel 2013 or a higher version.

After the profiling process you can generate the report containing the output of the assessment. When you create the report, you must run the tool in report-generation mode. In this case to consult all the possible parameters you should run the command ASRDeploymentPlanner.exe -Operation GenerateReport /?.

Figure 5 - Example of the command for the report generation

The report generated is called DeploymentPlannerReport_xxx.xlsm within which you can see different information, including:

  • An estimate of the network bandwidth required for the initial replication process (initial replication) and for delta replication.
  • The type of Storage (standard or premium) required for each VM.
  • The total number of storage accounts (standard and premium) required.
  • The number of Configuration Server and Process Server you need to implement on-premises.
  • The number of VMs that can be protected in parallel to complete the initial replication at any given time.
  • Estimating the throughput attainable by ASR (on-premises to Azure).
  • An assessment of the supported virtual machines, providing details about the disks (number, its size and IOPS) and the type of the OS.
  • Estimation of DR costs, for use it in a specific region of Azure.

Figure 6 - Home page of the generated report

To obtain detailed information concerning the analysis of the report please visit the Microsoft's official documentation.

In addition to being present in the home page of the report a summary of the estimated costs, there is also a specific tab containing the details of the cost analysis.

Figure 7 – Section on cost estimates in the report generated

For more details on the information and its interpretation, you can check the official documentation.

Conclusions

Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner is a very useful tool that, making a detailed assessment of the on-premises environment, allows not to omit any aspect to achieve in the best way a Disaster Recovery plan towards Azure, using Azure Site Recovery (ASR). This tool also allows you to have with great precision an estimate of the costs that you need support for the disaster recovery plan, so you can make the necessary evaluations.