**Disclaimer: I have previously published a book with Packt Publishing. This book review was not approved or seen in advance of Packt Publishing and is my own opinion. This book was provided to me at not cost to read and review**
Long book title, long blog post title! Packt Publishing has given me the opportunity to review Disaster Recovery using VMware vSphere Replication and vCenter Site Recovery Manager (http://bit.ly/1kosrhz).
The book is very straight forward and is very easily consume. The book covers installation and configuration of VMware Site Recovery Manager and vSphere Replication. While the book is mostly a step by step guide, the author does include design and installation considerations where appropriate as well as a review of background tasks happening which might not otherwise be controlled by the administrator; for example the cleanup tasks after testing a recovery.
Even though the book is on the shorter side, it is a worthy read for anyone interested in implementing either VMware SRM, vSphere Replication or both.
Packt has also provided me with 2 eBook copies to give away for readers of my blog. To participate, please follow me on Twitter @jfrappier and re-tweet this article by July 3rd (be sure to include my Twitter handle, @jfrappier so that I can track the RTs if you are using something like Buffer which may not show an RT on the original tweet). Only July 4th, I will select two winners.
Posted in Tech Tagged with: automation, BCP, Book Review, business continuity, business continuity planning, disaster, Disaster Recovery, dr, ESXI, Home, hypervisor, Reviews, RPO, rto, Shared, Technology, vcenter, Vendors, Virtualization, VMware, vSphere, vsphere replication
ReliableDR from PHD Virtual, now Unitrends is an application that “helps assure business continuity by automating the disaster recovery process to dramatically reduce the cost and complexity of fail over, fail back and testing. Now you can certify your VMs will recover as planned, and within corresponding SLAs.” That’s the marketing version, what does it mean for an engineer/administrator? Its a tool that allows you to test your DR plan, pretty straight and simple, then when you actually need to perform your DR plan it provides the tools needed to automate that process as well as the process to fail back, which is generally the harder process of the two!
Installing ReliableDR was amazingly simple and complete, you will need a Windows 2008 OS or greater; you can’t install on Win7 for example, and from there the installer handles all of the dependencies such as .NET 4.0 and IIS 7. I haven’t come across many applications recently where even the installation process was so well done and documented.
Once the installation is complete there will be a ReliableDR shortcut on the desktop which will connect you to the web UI, the default username is Admin / password.
Once you are logged in, you do need to hop around a bit as no wizard was presented, but its a very straight forward process to configure.
Now you are all set to run your first test! Just click on the job, click the Actions button and select Run Test. You will see the status of your replication and….
In less than an hour I installed the product, configured for my environment and was able to successfully test a DR scenario. I can’t think of many tasks that only occupy and hour of your time at work that are more worthwhile than building a DR solution, ReliableDR makes it that easy!
You can find all the current documentation at https://phdreliabledr.zendesk.com/entries/24880616-ReliableDR-Installation-and-Configuration-Guide
Years ago I took a Project Management class that covered lessons that I still find handy to this day regardless if I’m wearing a PM hat or not. One of those lessons really sticks out in detail though. Our project was simple. We were given a bucket full of lego parts, and told to build a car. Everyone scrambled to start assembling something that resembled a car. No two cars were alike and everybody was missing parts to make something truly functional.
The moral of the lesson was that we failed to define success. Nobody stopped to ask what the car’s requirements were, or what options were available in building the car.
My experience has shown, ironically enough, that defining success is probably the hardest part of any technical project. It sounds simple enough to implement an HA cluster with some backup software, and as engineers we have a tendency to take those high level request and start building a solution before we nail down the details. It might work exactly as you planned, but it may not work the way the business needs it to work.
Not taking these steps usually leads to one of three scenarios which often leads to failure of some kind in the end.
Instead, start with taking a look at already published SOP’s if the exist. Talk with leadership outside of the immediate IT organization to understand their requirements and what future roadmaps they have. In big organizations with in house application teams that support specific business functions they can provide a wealth of information where non-technical business leaders might be lacking. Make sure any in-house legal or regulatory group is also included in the conversation as well as they may have additional input or need to review others requirements to ensure they don’t conflict with compliance requirements driven outside the business. Don’t offer solutions on this first pass as this is only for information gathering.
Next, take these details and break them down into standardized categories. Start to build a matrix that you easily fit each component into and make sure its documented in a easily understood format. If there are requirements that seem ludicrous, don’t scratch them off but instead put a note to further investigate more detail. With all of these details in hand, have the leadership within IT sign off on these requirements and make any adjustments based on what they are willing and able to support. The final step of course is to go back to the business owners and have them sign off on the standardized requirements.
You will of course need to make further revisions once you start designing a solution around those requirements, but it gives you concrete business objections to meet. If the only solution to a requirement is too complex or too costly, you may get permission to scale back or better yet will have the documentation you need to justify an increase in the budget with the business.
If you do all the legwork and still nobody has an idea where to start, take a page out of ITIL and come up with several standard service offerings and use that as a starting point to negotiate from.
For starters, here’s common questions that should be asked.
My last parting advice is to ensure that you stick to common methodologies. They don’t need to be the same “industry standard” way of doing things that everybody else claims to use, but they should be consistent based on where something falls in that matrix. The fewer the options and variations, the easier it will be to manage and automate.
STANDARDS ARE GREAT, THAT’S WHY EVERYBODY HAS THEIR OWN!
Sharing a new tool from PHD Virtual, that will help in your Disaster Recovery planning and execution.
PHD Virtual has released today a free Recovery Time Calculator to quickly and automatically calculate how long it will take to recover virtual machines and critical applications in the event of an outage or disaster.
Dubbed the RTA Calculator, for the ‘Recovery Time Actual’ estimate it provides, PHD’s free tool can be easily downloaded and then immediately provides visibility into what your organization’s actual VM recovery time would be in the event of an outage.
The RTA Calculator has a built-in wizard to connect to VMware. Once installed you are prompted to select the VMs you wish to time for an RTA estimate, and set the appropriate boot order. The RTA Calculator will then take a snapshot and create linked clones for each VM. Due to the use of snapshotting and linked clones, the VM creation process is very quick.
The tool then simply powers up the VMs and times the process, calculating the total time it will take to recover that grouping of VMs – it’s that simple! This gives you an accurate Recovery Time Actual you can use to compare to your Recovery Time Objective and determine if you’ll be able to adhere to your SLAs.
Run the RTA tool as often as needed to produce an estimate with different production loads.
What You’ll Need
Like all PHD Virtual products, the RTA Calculator is highly effective while still maintaining ease of use. It requires no training or product documentation. All you need to know is contained within in this short video demonstration
Other than that just ensure you meet the following 3 requirements
Download the FREE tool here: http://www.phdvirtual.com/free/rta-calculator
I enjoy sharing free resources with my readers, tools make our jobs easier. Enjoy.
Today PHD Virtual announced the release of PHD Virtual Backup v6.5 and ReliableDR v3.2. I had the luxury of playing with both releases prior to their launch this past week. I have to say that PHD Virtual is delivering a solid product. In addition to checking out the products, I was also checking out how well I was treated if I had a support problem. As much as we would love to have everything go smoothly, it¹s just not the case in life. I found PHD’s support staff to be responsive and very professional while interacting with me. My initial request for help was met with-in a few hours and problem solved in matter of minutes.
What my problem was
For those that beta test products you know things don’t always work and I wasn’t aware of that PHD management consoles aren’t compatible with different versions of their products.
I wasn’t able to configure my host settings in the console. Reason being I was on a newer version VBA and an older version of management console. Simple problem and resolved quickly. But the response and treatment from PHD Virtual support in my problem was a great experience and for that alone I would recommend them.
What’s been added or changed
New in PHD Virtual Backup v6.5:
New in ReliableDR v3.2 includes:
Now let’s also note that there is plans for Hyper-V support on the road map.
You can also check out their recorded session from the #vBrownbag Tech Talks
Since I started working with PHD Virtual I have enjoyed watching the products grow and see how the company takes customer service serious. They engage with it’s customers on all levels and listen to their needs and try to incorporate that back into the functionality of their products. If you are thinking of backup solution for your company you definitely should give PHD Virtual a look.