One of configurations that I’ve had on my list is setting up vSphere Replication with vSphere5.1. As you might know vSphere Replication now ships for FREE as part of the platform. That means you don’t have spend your hard-earned money on third-party tools that offer replication of the VM. That’s something that’s often been deliberately overlooked by some of our competitors in our space. Sadly, they do like to constructure apples to oraganes comparison. Holding up their paid-for-products, to what were building into the vSphere Platform. A more fair comparison would be place thier technologies side-by-side with Site Recovery Manager and then see how they stack up.

If you recall from my post about the Prolab and the way I’m laying out my storage – the replication layer is part based on storage arrays and vSphere Replication. So I have a NetApp (SAS) replicating every 5mins to NetApp (SATA) filer, and a Dell Equallogic (SAS) replicating to a Dell Equallogic (SATA) every 1hr. That left some space on both SATA based arrays for offering lower tiers of storage. To maximize the space allocated on the SAS based arrays I used everything that was available. That leaves no possible protection for the SATA storage. I thought it would be interesting use case to setup vSphere Replication between NetApp and Dell backed datastores – thus illustrating one of the major benefits of virtualized replication – no need for matching storage arrays, firmware and so on. For me I see vSphere Replication of one example of how we here at VMware are executing on the goal to offer the software-defined datacenter, in fact virtual DR with products like Site Recovery Manager and vSphere Replication is one of the three planks (along side network and storage). So with vSphere Replication the VMware Admin can enabled protection without need to understand or liaise with the storage team. Neat! 🙂

vSphere Replication within vSphere5.1 can be used between sites or within sites. The choice is yours. As a long standing advocate of virtual DR, one of the interesting aspects of VR  to me is how the new edition doesn’t require a second vCenter to function – your able to use vSphere Replication between datacenters or clusters within the same datacenter – within the same vCenter instance. [Remember though for the moment if you want to use the full-fat version of vSphere Replication with all the automation that Site Recovery Manager – there’s still a requirement for two vCenters]. So theoretically one of your clusters could be called NYC_Cluster with the hosts located in New York, and then within the same vCenter – the second cluster called NJ_Cluster containing host located in New Jersey – could be using vSphere Replication between each other. For me this sort of configuration would appeal to a company wanting to use VMware HA Stretch Clusters together with vSphere Replication as part of an overall “Site Availability/Recovery” strategy. At some stage there’s going to be “suiteness” between vSphere Replication/Site Recovery Manager and vCloud Director – and want the pieces in place ready for when that become available. I’m thinking of doing the same configuration for vSphere Data Protection (the replacement of vSphere Recovery Appliance or vDR).

You import the vSphere Replication appliance into vCenter as you would with any .OVF or .OVA file – and as ever you setup the VR name, IP address, subnet mask, DNS, and Gateway during the import process itself. The vSphere Replication appliance registers itself inside the Web Client for other post configuration tasks.

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.42.35.png

Its from here you can see your site – and if you have separate VR instance registered with a different vCenter – pair the sites together (>vSphere Replication >Sites >Select your site >Actions button >Connect to Remote Site

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.45.34.png

In my case because I have single vCenter setup, all I needed to do was right-click the source VM in the Web Client, and select vSphere Replication from the list.

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.49.40.png

For that reason when the wizard opens – I select my own site to be able to select the different destination for the VM I want to replicate. If I had another site setup (say vcnj for example) I would merely select it. Notice how you can add remote sites from the configure replication within wizard…

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.53.24.png

The next step merely entails selecting the destination or target location – in my case I chose to replicate the TS1 VM which was on the “infrastructureNYC” datastore over to my “Tier4_Bronze” storage – location of plentiful, cheap SATA based storage.

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.54.30.png

As you can see vSphere Replication built-in to vSphere5.1 has simple slider bar to select the frequency of the replication (which controls your recovery point objective). There’s been improvement to the VSS writer – and understand it now fully supports the application variants of VSS for services such as Exchange and SQL server.

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.55.11.png

Once the VR job is kicked off it can be monitored from the simple “recent tasks” pane.

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.56.39.png

As well as the vSphere Replication view as well – which I particularly like. One of the things that was a bit lacking in the first edition of VR was the ability to monitor the status of your replication jobs. Now the new Web Client has this nice neat “summary” tab – something you see consistently across the whole of the all new client.

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.58.11.png

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 15.58.25.png

Once the “Initial Full Sync” completes in my case the VM will be replicated every 3hrs. The replication job can be controlled using the right-click on the VM in the “Outgoing Replications” list.

Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 16.11.34.png