How virtual servers, desktops and storage can make DR a breeze


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Virtualization can’t stop a hurricane or a flood, but it can make it easy to move VMs (and critical applications) to another server before the event occurs. For example, if you have a pre-failure warning that a server was going to fail, you could use a feature like VMware’s vMotion or Microsoft Hyper-V’s Live Migration to move running VMs from one host to another, ensuring no downtime or data loss. Similarly, if a SAN needed maintenance or a LUN needed to be restriped, you can use a feature like VMware’s Storage vMotion to move a running virtual machine’s virtual disk from one SAN to another.

Similarly, if you knew your data center was going to suffer a power outage due to a hurricane, you could power down VMs, copy them to another site and bring them back up at the secondary site.

One of the great things about virtualization is that it provides capabilities to all operating systems and applications that you’d otherwise have to pay for. Many companies can’t afford high availability (HA) or timely disaster recovery for all their servers. However, with virtualization, HA and DR features apply to all virtual machines, universally, regardless of their operating system or apps. Thus, features like Microsoft’s failover clusters or VMware’s vSphere High Availability will bring up all VMs from a failed host onto another host, whether they’re running DOS, Windows or Linux, and essentially any application. For the most critical applications, VMware Fault Tolerance (FT)

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will provide real-time mirroring of virtual machines from one host to another, so users won’t see any downtime if a host fails.

For large site-wide disasters, applications like VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) create automated recovery plans for entire virtual infrastructures to get VMs and critical applications running at the recovery site at the push of a button. SRM works for any operating system and application, and is usually affordable enough to use to protect every VM in the infrastructure (as opposed to protecting just a few of your most critical VMs with dedicated physical server replication applications).

This was first published in October 2012

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