vSphere Backup and DR: How to Set Up Built-in Replication

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Wednesday, February 26th 2014 — Categories: Cloud Hosting, Hybrid Cloud, Cloud Storage, Disaster Recovery, VMware

A disaster recovery plan is vital for your business. Though Green House Data offers managed backup and disaster recovery with a variety of software options, administrators can also set up replication tools directly from vSphere. This blog post will be a quick overview of how to install and configure replication within your virtual environment.

Visit the VMware web site to download the replication tool OVA template, and deploy it from within the web client (“Actions” → “Deploy OVF Template”). Accept the license agreement, then choose a data center or local folder to store the appliance. Hit next, then choose the host that will actually run the appliance. Pick an available datastore from the storage options. Choose a network for the connection. The next screen will prompt you to set up a root password and configure your IP settings, including the default gateway, DNS, network IP, and netmask. Onward, where the deployment wizard will verify the “Binding Status” of the appliance. Make sure the check mark is green as the Replication tool requires a vCenter Extension Service binding. On the final screen, select whether or not you wish the appliance to power on immediately after deployment.

vSphere Replication will be added to your home screen after exiting your browser and logging back into the web client. You will now need to repeat the installation process for your replication site. After you have completed, log back into the web client for the first site and click vSphere Replication. Choose “Sites”, and select the vCenter server. Hit “Manage”, then “Actions”, and “Connect to Remote Site”. Enter the second site IP, username, and password. After accepting the security alert, you should see the target site listed as “Connected”. You must repeat these steps for on the second site as well.

vsphere replication

After this initial setup, navigate to the “Host and Cluster” view in vSphere client, right-click the virtual machine destined for replication, and select “All vSphere Replication Actions → Configure Replication…” Choose the second site vCenter server as the target site, select a storage location, and then manipulate the slider to select a Recovery Point Objective (RPO). A lower RPO will replicate more data and reduce loss, but comes at the cost of bandwidth and resource use. A summary screen is the next step. Hit “Finish” to finalize the replication process.

To check the status of a replicated virtual machine, click on vSphere Replication from the web client, then select “Sites” and pick the vCenter server. Select “Monitor” and choose “Outgoing” or “Incoming” Replications.

To recover a replicated virtual machine, shut down the primary VM, log out and connect to the second site, choose “vSphere Replication”, click “Sites” and pick the vCenter server. Navigate to the “Monitor” tab , right click on the virtual machine, and click “Recover…” You will then have to pick a location for the replicated VM and a cluster for it to live in.

That’s it! Pretty simple. Even lacking more advanced deduplication or automated failover enabled by other disaster recovery software, the free replication tool from VMware can be a solid method of replicating vSphere machines to a backup environment.

Posted By: Joe Kozlowicz