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Jul 24 2017

The FUJITSU Storage ETERNUS CS200c Screen Demos, Pt. 4: Live Sync

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Ever since its debut in 2014, our all-in-one data protection appliance has been deployed by numerous businesses of all sizes to implement enterprise-class backup and recovery. One key reason for this success lies in a unique combination of reliable Fujitsu hardware and industry-leading Commvault software functionalities that ensure the appliance is equally useful in physical and virtualized environments. Our summer series of screen demos offers comprehensive insights into the ETERNUS CS200c's rich and varied feature set. This time, it's all about disaster recovery of virtual machines and how Commvault's Live Sync feature can help with it.

Back in the early 2000's, virtualization morphed from a somewhat exotic, if helpful and nice-to-have software feature into a cornerstone of modern data and data center management. At the time, this struck many observers as surprising, but if you dug a little deeper, this development was rather easy to understand, because even though it may involve complicated processes at the backend, virtualization added a new abstraction layer that made applications, data and hardware resources easier to manage. Just pack everything you need into a neat virtual machine (VM), and you'll be amazed at how easy it is to start and stop processes/applications, assign or withdraw processor and memory capacities, etc. In short, if carried out properly, virtualization would help administrators to do a better job in less time than was needed before (and at considerably lower stress levels).

But like any advancement in data center management, this one came with a caveat – whether a feature or technology is truly useful largely depends on what happens if it fails. In the case of VMs, this brings up the question of how fast they can be restored after a malfunction or crash. Fujitsu's ETERNUS CS200c data protection appliance and Commvault software provide administrators with Live Sync, a tool that helps them "revive" failed VMs within a reasonable time frame

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Fig. 1: The ETERNUS CS200c data protection appliance and Commvault software use the Live Sync feature to enable fast and simple VM restores

 

The Live Sync feature uses an existing VM backup to create an additional copy, the so-called disaster recovery virtual machine, which is then transferred to a reserve storage system that may be located in the same data center or preferably at a remote site or in the cloud. If the protected VM fails or crashes, all the administrator has to do is to find and play back the contents of this particular VM. However, a successful recovery is only possible if both VMs – the one at the productive side and the one at the remote site – are tightly synchronized.

That's precisely what Live Sync was designed for: Admins can use the function to create and maintain so-called "warm" recovery sites for VMs running critical business applications such as OLTP and the like. To accomplish this, Live Sync enables incremental replication between the backup of the source VM and its remote counterpart, the destination VM. The Live Sync operation opens the destination VM and applies changes from the source VM backups since the last sync point. Because it uses deduplication and Commvault's built-in DASH copy feature, only relevant (altered) data blocks are transmitted from the production to the recovery site, which in turn accelerates replication and reduces data traffic over the wide area network. Better still, Live Sync is hardware-agnostic, which means that data can literally be replicated to any storage system and there's no need to use identical hardware at the recovery site. For our demo, however, we have used a backup appliance ETERNUS CS200c and Commvault's DASH copy feature to replicate backup data to a second ETERNUS CS200c at the remote side.

To achieve the desired accuracy, administrators can configure Live Sync in such a way that it will initiate replication either whenever a backup has been finished or on a regular, scheduled basis, for example once per day or once per week; in addition, they should set the advanced backup option to "granular recovery." It's also possible to schedule multiple Live Sync jobs. Each resulting process is fully automated and requires no manual intervention. Moreover, using the backup infrastructure for replication ensures that the source VM is not affected and impact on the production systems is kept to a minimum. And lastly, a set of automated and comfort functions enable administrators to establish a superior service quality, with a special focus on the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO):

  • RTO, i.e. the time interval between the interruption of a service/VM and its restoration from the recovery site, should be as short as possible. This requires the destination VM to be available with next to no latency. An automated validation function and the ability to specify new network connections and IP addresses at the recovery site on the fly ensure that startup time is minimized.
  • RPO, i.e. the acceptable time interval within which virtual machine data must be recoverable, is automatically determined by the frequency of backups.
  • If corrupted data are replicated from the source to the destination VM, users can still recover a point-in-time version of the source VM from older backups.
  • Scheduled replications only take place if and when new incremental backups are available. If that isn't the case, replication is canceled automatically.
  • At the end of a successful replication, the Live Sync monitor shows that the two VMs are synchronized.

The complete screen demo "Disaster recovery of virtual machines – easy and reliable with Fujitsu ETERNUS CS200c" is available at YouTube. For detailed information, please refer to the Live Sync chapter in the online documentation and the related Commvault white paper (PDF).

Helga Eppig

 

About the Author:

Helga Eppig

International Product Marketing Storage, Fujitsu

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