Category Archives: Azure Backup & Disaster Recovery

Azure VMware Solution: Disaster Recovery scenarios using VMware Site Recovery Manager

The corporate business is heavily dependent on IT solutions and often these are not properly structured to deal with incidents of any kind, even the most remote, which could cause damage, an interruption or loss of data. VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a disaster recovery solution that allows you to minimize the downtime of workloads in the VMware environment in the event of a disaster. SRM is very popular for customers who use VMware at on-premises datacenters and recently the possibility of using the same solution with Azure VMware Solution was announced (AVS). This article describes how SRM for AVS can simplify the management of Disaster Recovery strategies, ensuring rapid and predictable recovery times.

What is VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM)?

VMware Site Recovery Manager is an automation solution, which integrates with underlying replication technology, able to offer:

  • Recovery test without service interruptions
  • Workflow able to guarantee the orchestration of DR plans in an automated way
  • Automatic reset of network and security settings (integration with VMware NSX)

The solution offers the possibility to insure in a simple and reliable way, restore and move virtual machines between multiple VMware sites with little or no downtime.

Site Recovery Manager allows you to natively take advantage of VMware vSphere and use the SDDC architecture (Software-Defined Data Center) integrating with other VMware solutions, such as VMware NSX (network virtualization) and VMware vSAN.

Site Recovery Manager requires one of the following underlying replication technologies to orchestrate virtual machine recovery operations:

  • VMware vSphere Replication: replication focused on VMs and based on the hypervisor. It is the solution natively integrated with Site Recovery Manager and included in most versions of vSphere.
  • Third party solutions: Site Recovery Manager uses plug-in SRA (Storage Replication Adapter) developed by storage partners for integration with third-party systems.

How to purchase SRM

Site Recovery Manager is available in two versions: Standard ed Enterpirse. Both versions of Site Recovery Manager are licensed “per protected virtual machine”.

  SRM STANDARD SRM ENTERPRISE
Licenses As far as 75 Protected VMs per site No license limit on the number of protected VMs
Exclusive features   –          Integration with VMware NSX

–          VMotion orchestrated movement between multiple vCenter instances

–          Extended storage support

–          Policy-based storage management

 

What is Azure VMware Solution (AVS)?

Azure VMware Solution (AVS) is a service that enables provisioning and execution of an environmentVMware Cloud Foundationfull in Azure.VMware Cloud Foundation is VMware's hybrid cloud platform for managing virtual machines and orchestrating containers, where the entire stack is based on a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). This architecture model ensures consistent infrastructure and operation across any private and public cloud, including Microsoft Azure.

Figure 1 – Azure VMware Solution Overview

The solutionAVS allows customers to adopt a full set of VMware features, with the guarantee of holding the validation "VMware Cloud Verified". At the same time the platform is maintained by Microsoft and automatic and regular updates are guaranteed, that allow you to take advantage of the latest feature sets, as well as obtaining high security and stability.

Thanks to this solution it is therefore possible to have consistency, performance and interoperability for existing VMware workloads, without sacrificing speed, the scalability and availability of the global Azure infrastructure.

An Azure VMware Solution Private Cloud includes:

  • vCenter server for managing ESXi and vSAN
  • Dedicated bare-metal servers provided with ESXi VMware hypervisor
  • VMware vSAN datastore for vSphere vMs
  • VMware NSX-T software defined networking for vSphere vMs
  • VMware HCX for workload mobility management

Figure 2 - Azure VMware Solution interconnection with the on-premises and Azure environment

Azure Private Cloud infrastructure contains vSphere clusters on dedicated bare metal systems, able to scale from 3 to 16 host. It also provides the ability to have multiple clusters in a single Azure Private Cloud. The hosts are high-end and equipped with two Intel processors 18 core of 2,3 GHz and 576 GB RAM.

VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) with Azure VMware Solution (AVS)

Site Recovery Manager (SRM) for Azure VMware Solution (AVS) is able to automate and orchestrate failover and failback processes in the following Disaster Recovery scenarios:

  • On-premise VMware to Azure VMware Solution private cloud disaster recovery
  • Primary Azure VMware Solution to a secondary disaster recovery Azure VMware Solution private cloud

Furthermore, thanks to the ability to perform failover tests without generating disruption to the production environment, it is possible to periodically guarantee the achievement of the recovery time objectives required for the disaster recovery plans.

Figure 3 - Diagram of a DR scenario between two Azure VMware Solution environments

Also in this scenario SRM is licensed and supported directly by VMware. Customers cannot reuse SRM licenses from the on-premises environment even in AVS environments, but new SRM licenses must be available for AVS environments.

Azure VMware Solution also provides a mechanism to simplify the installation and management of the SRM life cycle. In fact, by accessing the navigation menu in the AVS private cloud it is possible to install VMware SRM with vSphere Replication as an additional service. To do this, simply select “VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) - vSphere Replication ”from the Disaster Recovery Solution menu and follow the relevant instructions.

Figure 4 - Enabling of “VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) – vSphere Replication” from Disaster Recovery Solution menu of AVS

Use cases

This integration between Azure VMware Solution and Site Recovery Manager can be activated to implement the following types of recovery scenarios:

  • Planned migration. This is an orderly migration of virtual machines from the protected site to the recovery site where no data loss is expected during the guided migration of workloads.
  • Disaster Recovery. SRM activates the DR plan when the primary site unexpectedly goes offline. Site Recovery Manager orchestrates the recovery process with replication mechanisms, to minimize data loss and environment downtime.
  • Bidirectional protection. Bi-directional protection uses a single set of paired SRM sites to protect virtual machines in both directions. Each site can be a protected site and a recovery site at the same time, but for a different set of virtual machines.

Conclusions

Thanks to the introduction of this feature in AVS, starting from the automation functionality of VMware Site Recovery Manager recovery plans and the hypervisor-based replication capabilities of vSphere Replication, you can take advantage of an end-to-end Disaster Recovery solution, able to accelerate the enabling of the protection, as well as simplifying the operations necessary to implement DR plans. In this way, you can make the most of the agility and convenience of this solution in an Azure environment.