Cloud Computing Outlook

VMware: The Disaster Recovery Vanguards

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Patrick Gelsinger, CEO, VMwarePatrick Gelsinger, CEO  
The U.S. Department of Energy (Las Alamos, New Mexico) was struck with a potential disaster when a blazing wildfire almost swallowed its southern section recently. Two of the most powerful supercomputers were housed in this lab, which sent out a wave of anxiousness among the authorities. Fortunately, ‘the land of enchantment’ witnessed the combination of sudden rain and the grit of fire-fighters, which saved the day. But one can still imagine the repercussions of disaster the U.S. Department of Energy could have faced.

"We will empower customers to take open source projects into production, providing the reliability, scalability and operational consistency they require"

Yes, no doubt that every organization doesn’t host a supercomputer, or a power plant, or a nuclear reactor for that matter. But that doesn’t lessen the significance of disaster recovery management systems. When a catastrophe hits an organization, obviously there are mutilations of physical resources that add worries; but the loss of important data can push anyone into the oblivion. Disaster recovery management systems have been significant in recovering the lost data when a disaster strikes, bringing the firm in question, on its feet again. So how can an organization employ them? “That’s where we can help. When a disaster strikes, you can failover to VMware Cloud, and if you need more resources, you can dynamically add more nodes. And once the disaster is over, you can failback to your on-premise data center. Everything is re-replicated, so you have the same state you had on VMware Cloud. And you can scale back down to the minimal footprint that you need to maintain replication,” answers Patrick Gelsinger, the CEO of VMware.

A Complete Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Solution

Power outages, network issues, human error, and natural disasters can all contribute to system downtime. To minimize the impact of any disruption, VMware delivers a comprehensive, integrated portfolio of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) solutions. VMware BC/DR solutions increase the availability of the client’s workloads and data, and, in case the primary data center fails, they can replicate data to a secondary site and orchestrate recovery quickly and reliably. With VMware vSphere vMotion and Storage vMotion, users can move workloads, without disruption, across the data center to perform the maintenance necessary to maximize the life of the hardware.

Providing a zero downtime live migration of workloads from one server to another, VMware vSphere vMotion live migration allows users to move an entire running virtual machine from one physical server to another, with no downtime. The virtual machine retains its network identity and connections, ensuring a seamless migration process.
Users can transfer the virtual machine’s active memory and precise execution state over a high-speed network, allowing the virtual machine to switch from running on the source vSphere host to the destination vSphere host.

Automate and Schedule Migrations

Through VMware vSphere vMotion’s automated migration capability, companies can schedule migrations at predefined times, without administrator intervention. The VMware vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler, one of vSphere’s automated migration features, uses vMotion to optimize virtual machine performance across vSphere clusters. vMotion allows users to migrate multiple virtual machines running any operating system across any hardware and storage supported by vSphere, complete with an audit trail. Further, users can also identify the optimal placement for a virtual machine in seconds.

We are revolutionizing how applications and data are secured

The entire state of a virtual machine is encapsulated by a set of shared storage files, such as Fibre Channel and Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI). VMware vSphere VMFS—another component of the underlying solution—allows multiple installations of VMware ESXi (hypervisor) to access the same virtual machine files concurrently. “We revolutionized the concept of non-disruptive, live migration with the introduction of vMotion. It is now possible to perform a long-distance vMotion of distances up to 100ms round-trip time (RTT),” states Gelsinger.

An industry-leading Disaster Recovery (DR) solution

Apart from vSphere, VMware also delivers Site Recovery Manager (SRM) solution can be consumed as a perpetual license or as-a-Service through VMware Site Recovery for VMware Cloud on AWS. SRM automates and orchestrates failover and failback, ensuring minimal downtime in case of a disaster. The solution’s built-in non-disruptive testing ensures that the client’s Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) are met. SRM integrates with a vast ecosystem of underlying replication technologies, providing maximum flexibility.

An automation software, SRM integrates with an underlying replication technology to provide policy-based management, automated orchestration of recovery plans to minimize downtime in case of disasters and to conduct non-disruptive testing of your DR plans. It is designed for virtual machines and scalable to manage all applications in a VMware vSphere environment. To deliver flexibility and choice, it integrates natively with vSphere Replication and also supports a broad range of array-based replication solutions available from all major VMware storage partners. SRM natively leverages the benefits of VMware vSphere and can also take advantage of the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) architecture, integrating with other VMware solutions, such as VMware NSX (network virtualization) and VMware vSAN (hyperconverged infrastructure).

Embedding Automation into Disaster Recovery

By allowing users to test and automate the migration of applications between sites at scale with minimal or no downtime, SRM fulfills the need for a variety of use cases, such as disaster recovery, disaster avoidance, planned data center migrations, site-level load balancing or even application maintenance testing.
The offering ensures fast and highly predictable recovery times, simplifies management through automation and minimizes the total cost of ownership, making it the industry-leading solution to enable application availability and mobility across sites in private cloud environments.

Another element of the SRM offering, VMware vSphere Replication provides hypervisor-based virtual machine replication. It protects virtual machines from partial or complete site failures by replicating the virtual machines, regardless of the underlying storage array, from a primary site to a secondary site, between two clusters in a single site, and from multiple source sites to a single target site. vSphere Replication is configured on a per-VM basis allowing excellent control over which VMs are replicated. After the initial replication, only changes to the VMs are replicated to minimize network bandwidth consumption.

SRM and vSphere Replication power VMware Site Recovery, a new disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) offering for VMware Cloud on AWS, that simplifies deployment, provides reliable DR capabilities and reduces overall costs.

The Dell EMC connection

Carving a unique niche in the space has been possible for VMware through its partnerships and acquisitions. No discussion of VMware can be complete without mention of its somewhat convoluted ownership situation. Storage vendor EMC bought VMware in 2004 for $625 million and sold 15% of the company to the public via an IPO. In 2016, Dell, which was then privately held, borrowed $67 billion to buy EMC in a deal that stands as the largest ever in the industry. As part of that transaction, Dell issued something called “tracking stock,” a separate stock based on VMware’s performance. Then, in December of 2018, Dell announced it was going public again and bought back the VMware tracking stock. None of these machinations seem to have had much impact on the ground, according to both analysts and customers. Any efforts by Dell to increase synergies between the companies can only be good for customers, and these corporate changes haven’t slowed down VMware’s continued push into new markets. For example, Dell just announced an aggressive product roadmap for its HCI product line that features VMware’s VxRail technology.


But there is always a concern that if debt-laden Dell hits a few rough quarters, it might scale back new technology investments at VMware. So far, however, the overall strategy seems to be working. Revenue for the latest quarter was $2.2 billion, up 14 percent from the same quarter of the previous year, and the company increased its full-year revenue projections to nearly $8.9 billion. Quarterly earnings of $1.56 a share beat analyst estimates. And VMware stock, which dipped to a low of around $50 a share in 2016, is now above $150 a share. Industry analysts are impressed. Forrester listed VMware’s HCI offering as one of the leaders in the fast-growing “data center in a box” market. IDC says VMware is the market leader in cloud management software at more than $900M in annual revenue and is the market leader in a new category called IT automation and configuration management. And Gartner puts VMware in a leadership position in WAN edge technology. Gelsinger informs, “We will revolutionize how applications and data are secured. We will empower customers to take open source projects into production, providing the reliability, scalability, and operational consistency they require. Finally, we expect to continue to be a major force in cloud operations and management.”