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Virtualize disaster recovery

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DR apps for Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix Systems XenServer

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Many of the same disaster recovery (DR) principles for VMware implementation also apply to Microsoft Corp.'s Hyper-V and Citrix Systems Inc.'s XenServer. There are also some applications designed specifically for Hyper-V and XenServer that can be used to implement a DR solution for those environments.

  • Citrix Essentials for Hyper-V is similar to VMware Inc.'s vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM). It includes the StorageLink Site Recovery application that can automate DR processes and failover. It also provides integration with array-based storage replication, as well as integration with Microsoft Systems Center. A version for XenServer is expected to be released sometime in 2010.
  • Marathon Technologies Corp.'s everRun suite of products provides a range of high- and continuous-availability protection for XenServer. The suite allows you to mix and match physical and virtual servers for maximum flexibility.
  • Neverfail Ltd. offers a suite of continuous availability products that provide replication for Hyper-V and VMware. The products support both physical and virtual servers.
  • SteelEye Technology Inc.'s SteelEye Protection Suite provides replication for Hyper-V and XenServer, as well as ESX hosts, at the VM level and is storage agnostic; it also works across a LAN or WAN.

Watch out for virtualizations gotchas

Using virtualization technology as part of your DR plan has some great benefits, but there are also related challenges and costs. It's often assumed that server virtualization will save lots of money on server hardware. Lower operational costs will save money in the long run, but you'll have some additional up-front costs in addition to new physical servers. For example, using two or three physical servers with virtualization at your DR site in place of eight to 10 physical servers at your main site will obviously reduce hardware costs. But you'll have to consider the cost of virtualization software, management and data protection applications.

If you're already using virtualization at your main site, using it at your disaster recovery site is an easy decision. If not, expect a learning curve in understanding how to properly implement, configure and manage it. Also, virtual machines usually require management and backup applications designed specifically for virtualization that may not work with physical servers. So, you might need separate tools for virtual and physical environments, which increases costs and management complexity. Some apps, like Microsoft System Center, can manage both environments via a single interface; similarly, Symantec's NetBackup can back up both environments.

This was first published in March 2010

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