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5/12/2008
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VMware: Virtualization Offers A Way To Recover From Disaster

The company touts its newly released Site Recovery Manager as an automation agent that takes over to shift workloads with existing data to the recovery site.

VMware is seeking to expand the role virtualization by making it a basis for disaster recovery of the data center.

Disaster recovery typically consists of maintaining duplicate hardware and software at a site different from the primary data center. In the event of flood, fire or earthquake, the second data center's facilities start up and replace the primary center.

Such disaster recovery, however, is hard to maintain. The software/hardware configurations change frequently in the primary data center and must change also in the secondary one. And it's hard to test disaster recovery based on physical duplicates, says VMware's Melinda Wilkin, senior director of marketing. No one wants to shut down a data center to see whether the failover site can pick up the workloads. Even if it can, it might take a weekend or longer, with well drilled IT staffers following a binder-full of step-by-step instructions, she said.

VMware says the process can be automated with its new Site Recovery Manager. Duplicates of existing hardware/software configurations are created as virtual machines and installed in secondary data center. They do not need exact matching hardware because each virtual machine contains its own operating system that is capable of interfacing to many hardware variants through a hypervisor.

VMware's existing Virtual Infrastructure 3 and its central management console, Virtual Center, can generate the duplicates of existing data center servers. Site Recovery Manager working with Virtual Center can generate a site recovery plan and test the recovery plan in an isolated virtual environment, including a virtualized network, Wilkin said.

When disaster strikes, Site Recovery Manager takes over to shift workloads with existing data to the recovery site, she said. "It gets rid of the need for one-to-one infrastructure," and restarts existing workloads in the newly activated virtual machines established at the recovery site.

Basing disaster recovery on an automated process rather than a manual one tends to increase the likelihood it will work when needed, Wilkin said. With the traditional recovery process, "You need a perfect disaster recovery document, perfect training and perfect execution," she said.

Site Recovery Manager is part of a new VMware product set, the VMware Management and Automation bundle. It includes Lifecycle Manager, which tracks virtual machine requests, approvals, commissioning and decommissioning virtual machines; Lab Manager, a virtualized environment for software testing ; Stage Manager, a virtualized environment for test driving software about to be launched into production; and Site Recovery Manager. The bundle becomes available May 19 at a price of $3,995 for a two-socket, also known as a two-way, server.

VMware announced a second packaging bundle today, the IT Service Delivery bundle. It includes: VMware Lifecycle Manager, which was launched at the end of March. The bundle may then include either VMware Lab Manager or VMware Stage Manager, first described as beta software in January. The bundle becomes general available May 19. The IT Service Delivery bundle is priced at $2,995 for any two socket server.

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