January 6th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

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.

  • Download and start the installer from PHD Virtual
  • Next, Accept/Next, Next
  • Here if you do not have IIS 7 installed, the ReliableDR installer configures that for you, Next
  • You will then be prompted on whether to use a local SQL instance or an existing ReliableDR instance, selecting to use a new local instance will configure the ReliableDR database (when is it appropriate to use a separate SQL server – N number of Hosts? VMs? Data?)
  • Option to change components, which appears to be no options to change, but just click Next
  • Select your path for the web services, Next
  • Select the IP(s) and ports you wish ReliableDRs web services to run on, Next (the installer will also stop the Default Web Site)
  • Next to start all the bits moving around for the installer to configure the service.
  • The installer went though and completed the installation, now click Finish.

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.

  • Click on Servers and then click the Add button
  • Add your vCenter servers, and credentials for each and click save.  If you only have one for testing or POC just enter that vCenter.
  • For testing you may want to create an isolated network/vSwitch.
  • Click on Mappings and click the Add button
  • Select the primary and secondary server based on your use case and click Next
  • Under each vCenter, click the link that says “Mapping not set, click to change”
  • Here you can see I selected my VM Network and IsolatedDR next I created for testing.


  • Click OK, click Next
  • Select the failbox network, this is likely the opposite of what you selected above.  Click OK and Next.
  • Name your mapping and click Save.
  • Click on Jobs, here there was no Add button like there was for Mappings (maybe a bug?) but if you right click on Jobs you will get the Add job button; click that.
  • You will have 3 options here, the first however will be to setup ReliableDR replication.
  • Select your source and replication server, click Next.
  • Select your mapping that we just created and click Next.
  • Select the VM you wish to protect, and drag the VM to the datastore on the right you wish to replicate to, repeat for each VM and click Next.
  • Name and review your job options such as RTO and RPO and click Save.

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

Getting started with PHD Virtual ReliableDR

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December 17th, 2013 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

As I caught up on my morning email, I received the announcement from Unitrends that they have agreed to acquire PHD Virtual, makers of ReliableDR.  Having been exposed recently to both Unitrends Enterprise Backup and PHD Virtual’s ReliableDR I am very excited about the possibilities and future for both products.

Unitrends Enterprise Backup is very easy to use and configure, even with some bugs in their software dedup (any PostgreSQL experts at PHD Virtual?) and adding a robust DR product is very exciting.

Congratulations to the folks at PHD Virtual and at Unitrends for adding a great product to their portfolio.  You can read the official announcement here.

Unitrends Acquires PHD Virtual

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November 26th, 2013 by NerdBlurt

Sharing a new tool from PHD Virtual, that will help in your Disaster Recovery planning and execution.

Release info 

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.


PHDVirtual RTA Calculator

 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

System Requirements

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

  • The RTA Calculator is a Windows application that requires an Administrator account and .Net 4.0.
  • The RTA Calculator supports VMware ESX or ESXi with vCenter 4.0 (or higher) with default ports.
  • The RTA Calculator will need the VMware guest tools installed.

Download the FREE tool here: http://www.phdvirtual.com/free/rta-calculator

Nerd’s Blurt

I enjoy sharing free resources with my readers, tools make our jobs easier. Enjoy.

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August 27th, 2013 by NerdBlurt

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:

  • Backup Archiving: Automated backup replication capability that is WAN optimized and storage friendly. Backups can be archived to another location or to the cloud.
  • Exchange and SharePoint Recovery: Enables quick and easy recovery of granular Exchange and SharePoint items from any PHD backup in just a few clicks. This functionality is powered by Kroll OnTrack and is available with every Enterprise Edition license of PHD Virtual Backup.
  • Enhanced Scheduling for Granular RPOs: Schedule backup and replication jobs to occur as frequently as every 15 minutes.  When coupled with PHD ReliableDR, you now have cost-effective replication that can handle granular RPO requirements for critical applications, as well as guaranteed, automated DR failover and recovery testing.
  • Broader Support for 3rd Party S3 Compliant Providers: CloudHook is enhanced to support additional S3 compatible cloud storage platforms.


New in ReliableDR v3.2 includes:

  • CertifiedReplica: Leverages cost-effective, storage agnostic replication that can scale to large environments, save bandwidth with WAN-friendly data transfer, secure with government grade encryption, and conduct granular backup and recovery.

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

Nerd’s Blurt

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.

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July 22nd, 2013 by NerdBlurt

Over the last few months I have had more and more conversations with individuals and businesses around Disaster Recovery and being prepared for it. I checked out PHD Virtual’s acquisition of Reliable DR and just tonight had Jonathan Frappier covering how to use social media in your DR / BCP plans. With the weather being crazy over the last few years you have to be prepared.

Last week I received the press release below. (under the Shared Press Release section)

Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Survey 

It took me about 8 minutes to go through the 33 questions on the survey.

Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council Home page


Visit http://drbenchmark.org/ and click on take the free survey to begin.

You are brought to the survey to start

DR Benchmark Survey



If you select to continue on you will start the survey.

DR Benchmark Survey



33 questions later you are done. Having done the survey 33 questions actually only took me about 8 minutes.

DR Benchmark Survey



Once you complete the questions you are given a DR grade.

DR Benchmark Survey



As you can see I graded a “F”

I thought it was a simple survey, easy to take and I like how you can go in and take survey again if you change something in your plan.



Shared Press Release

July 17, 2013 –

As recent cyber-attacks and natural disaster events have shown, the need for IT disaster recovery preparedness has never been greater. However, research indicates that less than half of all companies have a disaster recovery plan in place, and even fewer have actually tested their plans to see if they will work as expected.

This need to uncover the value of disaster recovery planning and testing, as well as gain a better understanding of DR best practices to make preparedness more cost-effective and efficient was the driving force behind a recently created Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) CouncilFormed by IT business, government and academic leaders to address these issues, its mission is to increase DR Preparedness awareness, and improve DR practices.

The DRP Council has developed an online Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark (DRPB) Survey.  The survey is designed to give business continuity, disaster recovery, compliance audit and risk management professionals a measure of their own preparedness in recovering critical IT systems running in virtual environments.

Founding members of the DRP Council include:

  • Steve Kahan, Council Chairman, PHD Virtual
  • Dave Simpson, Sr. Analyst, 451 Group
  • Bilal Hashmi, Sr. Systems Engineer, Verizon
  • Michael Sink, Director Data Center Technologies, University of South Florida
  • Steve Lambropoulos, University of South Florida
  • Darren Hirons, Principal Systems Engineer, UK Health & Social Information Centre
  • Trystan Trenberth, CEO and Managing Director, Trenberth LTD
  • Riaan Hamman, CTO, Puleng Technologies
  • Carlos Escapa, Council Research Director , PHD Virtual
  • Anita DuBose, Council Research Director, PHD Virtual

“Users can now benchmark their own disaster recovery preparedness and find out real answers on how they would be able to get their IT systems up and running within a realistic time-frame to meet stringent business requirements,” said Steve Kahan, Chairman of the DRP Council. “Just 10 minutes of their time will provide them with some immediate feedback and a benchmark score that rates your DR preparedness with other companies that have participated.”

“I am unsure if our current best practices are the best or most efficient ways to deliver our SLA,” said Darren Hirons, Principal Systems Engineer, UK Health & Social Information Centre. “Learning about best practices through the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark could help us learn new ways to shorten the SLAs and deliver better service to our businesses.”

The DRPB survey provides a benchmarking score from 0-100 that measures the implementation of IT disaster recovery best practices. DRPB benchmarking scores parallel the grading system familiar to most students in North America whereby a score of 90-100 is an “A” or superior grade; 80-89 is a “B” or above average grade; 70-79 is a “C” or average grade and 60-69 is a “D” or unsatisfactory grade. Below 60, rates as an “F”, or failing grade.

Supporting Resources

Disaster recovery Preparedness Council:  http://drbenchmark.org/about-us/our-council/

Disaster Recovery Benchmark Test:  http://drbenchmark.org/benchmark-survey/survey-overview/

 About the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council

The DRPC is an independent research group engaged in IT disaster recovery management, research, and benchmarking in order to deliver practical guidance for how to improve Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. www.drbenchmark.org

**** End Shared Release****

Nerd’s Blurt

I like to share information with my readers, I found the survey to be non invasive and simple to complete. I did like receiving an immediate response with a grade.

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