Virtualize disaster recovery


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There are some clear advantages to using server virtualization at a DR site. Disaster recovery rack space is often expensive and with fewer racks your ongoing costs will be lower. Fewer physical servers also mean fewer network port requirements and less gear to maintain. You can also replicate VMs running on hosts with shared storage at your main site to hosts with direct-attached storage (DAS) at your DR site, which can result in more savings. Server virtualization allows physical hardware independence, so you can use any type of server hardware at your DR site without having to worry about operating system and application compatibility.

Virtual DR options

There are many options that you can choose from when using virtualization. The route you decide upon will likely be dictated by the amount of bandwidth available between your main and DR sites. The benefits of using virtualization as part of your disaster recovery setup include:

  • Fewer physical servers needed at a DR site reduces one-time and ongoing costs, and results in less idle hardware
  • Lower-cost VM-level replication is storage independent and doesn't require expensive storage arrays
  • Hardware independence allows for more hardware options without compatibility issues
  • Encapsulation turns a VM into a single portable file for easier transport and deployment
  • Snapshots

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  • provide an effective method for backup of virtual machines
  • Automated failover and easier testing
  • Easier server deployment; scripting can be used to help automate many configuration and operational tasks

Virtualization can provide some clear advantages for disaster recovery; help save money, time and effort; and make the often daunting task of designing and implementing a DR plan easier.

BIO: Eric Siebert is an IT industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience who now focuses on server administration and virtualization. He's the author of VMware VI3 Implementation and Administration (Prentice Hall, 2009).

This was first published in March 2010

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