Recently VMware launched the vCloud Hybrid Service Disaster Recovery (vCHS-DR) service. vCHS-DR increases business resiliency with minimal investment, because DR is offered as a service.
vCloud Hybrid Service’s Disaster Recovery is built on vSphere replication and provides a failover environment for your on-premises virtual machines. vSphere replication offers asynchronous replication at the hypervisor level and connects to the vCHS cloud endpoint. vCHS-DR is offered as a separate service; current Dedicated or Virtual Private Cloud subscribers are required to purchase a separate subscription for the DR service.
vCHS-DR was already announced at VMworld 2013; there was some discussion in the blogosphere that VMware would offer Site Recovery Manager (SRM) as a service. SRM features some great orchestration options, which allows you to define a full recovery plan. On top of this, SRM seamlessly integrates with different storage solution leveraging Storage Replication Adapters. Let’s be clear, vCHS-DR is not SRM as a service and lacks the orchestration options but is an easy and interesting alternative and can be a good option depending on your requirements. At least you don’t have to manage and maintain your own recovery site anymore, because you’re using the vCloud Hyrbid Service as a recovery site!
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of the new vCHS-DR service.
Some of the pros of this new solution are:
- Based on a slightly modified version of vSphere replication – the vSphere replication appliance includes the option to connect to vCloud Hybrid Service. vSphere replication has been available since vSphere 5.0 and has proven to be a solid hypervisor based replication option.
- RPO is between 15 minutes and 24 hours, this is configurable per VM.
- An RTO of 4 hours (or less) is guaranteed per SLA.
- Seamless integration with vSphere; the configuration of the replication to vCHS is quite easy.
- Using vCloud Connector Offline Data Transfer, it can support large volume data transfers of virtual machines and their data to vCloud Hybrid Service prior to replicating over.
- Guest OS quiescing is available and guarantees OS level consistency.
- Virtual machines become available in the vCHS interface after successful replication.
- A test recovery option is available featuring a test network within the vCHS testing environment (a bit like the test bubble option in SRM).
- A test cleanup option is also available.
- Replication continues during this test recovery.
- A failover can be initiated from the vCHS interface.
But there are also some points that deserve special attention:
- A failback, after a failover: from vCHS to the original site can be challenging because this involves copying your VMs back using VMware cloud connector.
- There’s currently no SRM like orchestration option, so virtual machines have to be started manually in case of a test failover or disaster recovery. Some orchestration is possible using vCenter Orchestrator in conjunction with the vCloud API.
- For European consumers; vCHS-DR is available in the UK datacenter – your (recovery) virtual machines are running in the UK.
- You’re dependent on your internet connection for replication and accessing your virtual machines in the vCHS datacenter. vCloud Hybrid Service offers the direct connect option, which is a dedicated 1/10 Gbit WAN connection, for some of its vCloud datacenters. Unfortunately this option is currently not available for the Europe/UK datacenter.
- Note that vSphere 5.1 and above is required for the on-premises datacenter.
- A maximum of 500 virtual machines is supported, this is a vSphere Replication limit.
- A test failover is allowed twice a year. A test failover must be scheduled and coordinated through VMware Global Support Services.
More information about this new service is available here:
- VMware vCloud Hybrid Service – Disaster Recovery
- VMware vCloud Hybrid Service – Disaster Recovery (FAQ)
- Some compelling videos by Chris Colotti about vCHS-DR are published on this page. Also check his blog for some additional information of vCHS-DR.