If you thought we would run out of awesome ideas for our solution, think again.  We’re announcing the 7th feature in our Countdown to v7 today: Virtual Labs for Replicas (currently for VMware only).

Our customers and partners have long been asking us to add “SureReplica” functionality - in other words, enable the SureBackup capability for replicas and not just for backups. However, we at Veeam saw a lot more potential for also using replicas to take advantage of resources that are currently being wasted. In v7, we’re taking the SureReplica feature request beyond automated replica verification to provide you with the full range of functionality you’re already leveraging with Veeam backups.

So, the subtitle for this blog post should be: Put Your Replicas to Work! Most of the DR sites out there are idle, waiting for a major disaster to strike. Instead of gathering dust while waiting for the worst to happen, Veeam is offering you a way to actually give those resources value beyond disaster recovery. This time we’re going further. Now we’re bringing all the powerful capabilities of Virtual Labs for backup (SureBackup, U-AIR, On-Demand-Sandbox) to your replicas too.

First of all I should update you on how Virtual Labs for Veeam Backup & Replication actually works today in a VMware vSphere environment:

  • A dedicated host for the job is assigned.
  • A Standard vSwitch is created on that host.
  • A Proxy Appliance (routing engine) gets connected to that vSwitch and to the subnet of the Backup Server, copying the production network at the backend.
  • The requested virtual machines are brought online from within your backup files using vPower technology.

Virtual Lab for Replicas

In the example of this picture, we are testing the recoverability of the Exchange server. For this we also need a domain controller. (This is just one of the many examples you could put up there, even your own less frequently known applications.) If you look closely at the proxy appliance you will notice that we also have a masquerading network range. Masquerading enables you to connect to VMs within your Virtual Lab from production network, by specifying a production network address. Note that while Virtual Lab VMs will respond to incoming network connections from production network, they can never establish connections into the production network themselves due to the complete isolation.

While doing this we need to keep a few things in mind:

  • We are using a part of your production resources for the time that you need the Virtual Labs.
  • The virtual lab is tied up to selected host for simplicity and isolation. One of the results is that you will have to turn your Virtual Lab down when you need to put this host in Maintenance.
  • Kicking off all necessary machines can still take more time than with your production VMs because on-the-fly conversion of backup files by vPower engine is required, and backup file storage is generally slower than your production storage.

In comes Virtual Lab for Replicas

Veeam Backup & Replication has been designed from the ground up as a 2-in-1 solution, offering the possibility to have a disaster recovery site on standby for you, using the same technology as for backups.  With Virtual Lab for Replicas, not only will you be able to perform automated replica verification (SureReplica), but you can also use your replicas for U-AIR (Universal Application-Item Recovery) and On-Demand Sandbox! So those very few things you had to keep in mind in a production environment have now become irrelevant.  Let me clarify:

  • All resources used are DR site resources, so you are not taking anything from production.
  • Virtual Lab in v7 now also include support for Distributed Virtual Switch (DVS) to enable virtual labs span multiple hosts (in case your replicas are spread across many hosts)
  • Your replicas are already on RAW disk - not in a compressed backup file that requires translation through vPower engine. So both U-AIR and On-Demand Sandbox work much faster than from backups.

Think about creating isolated environments, which are complete copies of your production environment from just a few hours ago,for testing new group policies, troubleshooting DNS or certificate issues, training new hires in a live environment…all these things can now be done on the DR location where resources are now under-utilized.

Conclusion

Virtual Lab for replicas gives you a whole new set of working tools beyond just performing test failovers to verify your disaster recovery procedures and test your business continuity plans.  Try out software updates, OS patches and other changes before applying them to your production environment.  Whatever the reason, with Virtual Lab for replicas, you now have an exact copy of your production environment running on standard hosts and datastores.  How innovative is that!

v7 feature announcements:

If you have been following the Countdown to v7, you’ve seen the blog posts for these other new features: Enhanced backup and recovery for vCloud Director, vSphere Web Client plug-in, Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SharePoint, Virtual Labs for Hyper-V, Archive to Tape and Self-service recovery of VMs and guest files (Enhanced 1-Click Restore). If you go to the Countdown landing page now, you will see that we are not quite done yet. The best is yet to come! We will keep you posted.

 

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Countdown to v7: Virtual Labs for Replicas, 4.7 out of 5 based on 15 ratings
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Hans De Leenheer

Author: Hans De Leenheer

Hans De Leenheer is former Evangelist for the EMEA region at Veeam. Hans lives in Belgium and is “that guy” that makes every meeting different. Hans has a decent background on enterprise IT infrastructure with a keen interest in storage. In that area Hans holds... 

Published: May 7, 2013