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Extending the power of VMware’s Site Recovery Manager & Virtual Clustering products

Neverfail Extending vSphereSome people (including VMware themselves) often refer to the deployment of VMware vSphere infrastructure as a journey, with an ever-growing set of economic benefits to be unlocked at each stage along the way. Early adopters seek to reduce platform operational costs by driving up host server utilization rates and reducing power and server footprint costs. The next stage focuses on leveraging the benefits of vSphere availability services such as virtual clustering for local high availability and Site Recovery Manager (with SAN or vSphere replication) for disaster recovery. For advanced users, VMware is now offering the “Software-Defined Data Center”, a logical extension of server virtualization concepts to storage and networking services with an integrated management suite. It’s a compelling story and I must confess that, when listening to it for the first time at VMWorld, my initial reaction was: “what’s left for the rest of us in the industry to do now they’ve solved all the world’s IT problems?” Fortunately, the answer is: “plenty”.

Back in the real world, I see plenty of customers taking this journey but seldom do I find folks who have arrived at the destination of a 100% virtualized datacenter. Many support multiple platforms beyond vSphere because it’s not unusual to find x86 workloads still stubbornly deployed on physical platforms. Reasons vary, but I’ve seen customers who keep heavily loaded SQL databases running on physical systems because they consume all available resources. Or, sometimes, customers leave certain apps on physical servers because the app vendor doesn’t support it running on vSphere.

This platform mash-up creates a few headaches for the I&O guys and gals responsible for protecting service availability. Different platforms often require multiple clustering and replication infrastructure and VMware’s availability tools are, of course, only available for the vSphere platform. The problem is compounded when a complex, multi-tier app spans both physical and virtual servers. As an example, think no further than a Sharepoint farm with its SQL databases running on physical servers and everything else virtualized. How can a coordinated failover of all components across physical and virtual servers be achieved?

Even when applications have been fully virtualized, there are still circumstances where the most business-critical of apps require failover and replication performance beyond that which vSphere native technologies can deliver. For example, how can an HA cluster detect a failing app and trigger failover to a fresh copy before the sick instance fails and causes user downtime? Or in a DR scenario, how can SRM fail over the most critical apps in less than two minutes with seconds or less of data loss?

Neverfail has provided app monitoring and failover infrastructure for close on a decade and we were the first supplier to patent the use of virtual servers as failover targets. We’ve worked with VMware for the last five years as an OEM supplier to protect their most critical component, vCenter Server, with a VMware-branded version of Neverfail called vCenter Server Heartbeat. The expertise we’ve picked up along the way has been built into the latest generation of our product, recently released as the Neverfail IT Continuity Engine. It’s theme is to integrate with and extend the capabilities of native vSphere availability technologies. Take a look here and you’ll find some neat ways to include failover for physical servers within SRM recovery plans, and to add application-awareness into virtual HA clusters to detect sick applications before they cause downtime. And all of this managed within the vSphere web client. We’d like to think this new technology can help remove some key roadblocks in our mutual customer’s journey to vSphere virtualization nirvana.

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More Stories By Josh Mazgelis

Josh Mazgelis is senior product marketing manager at Neverfail. He has been working in the storage and disaster recovery industries for close to two decades and brings a wide array of knowledge and insight to any technology conversation.

Prior to joining Neverfail, Josh worked as a product manager and senior support engineer at Computer Associates. Before working at CA, he was a senior systems engineer at technology companies such as XOsoft, Netflix, and Quantum Corporation. Josh graduated from Plymouth State University with a bachelor’s degree in applied computer science and enjoys working with virtualization and disaster recovery.