Migrating Workloads onto vSAN

You’ve built your vSphere cluster with vSAN enabled, now what? Of course, you can start provisioning VM’s in the cluster and their vmdk’s onto the vSAN datastore. But, what if you want to move existing VM’s onto your new cluster? Well, there are several methods to consider, each with their own benefits and detractors. This topic has been explored a few times and here are some useful links:
Migrating VMs to vSAN
Migrating to vSAN

I had the opportunity to record an overview of this topic using our Lightboard technology at VMware headquarters in Palo Alto. You can check it out here:

Migrating Workloads onto vSAN

The video lightboard explores the following methods:

Backup

Simply, you can backup your VMs sitting in one cluster, shut them down, then restore them onto the new cluster.

Cross Cluster vMotion (AKA XvMotion), Cross vCenter vMotion, Long Distance vMotion (LDM)

You can migrate live VM’s from one cluster to another cluster (Cross cluster vMotion) and those clusters could be managed by different vCenters (Cross vCenter vMotion). This can be great for a few VM’s but if it’s a lot of VM’s and a lot of data then it can take a while. There’s no downtime for the VM’s, but, you could be waiting a long time for the migration to complete. For more details, see one of my previous posts:

XvMotion, Cross-vCenter vMotion, VVols, LVM active/active, LVM active/passive, SRM & Stretched Storage, VAIO Filters

Storage vMotion

This is only possible if your source and destination hosts are connected to the same source storage system LUN/Volume. If so, you can have both clusters mount the same LUN/Volume and move the VM from the source cluster to the destination cluster and also move the data from the source datastore (LUN/Volume on SAN/NAS) to the destination datastore (vSAN). If you are moving off a traditional fibre channel SAN then you’ll need to put fibre channel HBA’s in the hosts supporting the new vSAN datastore.

VMware vSphere Replication

VMware’s vSphere Replication replicates any VM on one cluster to any other cluster. This host based replication feature is storage agnostic so it doesn’t matter what the underlying storage is on either cluster. A vSphere snapshot of the VM is taken and that snapshot is used as the source of the replication. Once you know the data is in sync between the source cluster and destination cluster you can shut down the VM’s in the source cluster and power them up in the destination cluster. So, there is downtime. If something doesn’t go right, you could revert back to the source cluster. Here’s a good whitepaper on vSphere Replication.

VMware vSphere Replication + Site Recovery Manager

VMware’s vSphere Replication replicates any VM on one cluster to any other cluster. VMware Site Recovery Manager allows you to test and validate the failover from the source to the destination. It allows you to script the order in which VM’s are powered on as well as Re-IP them if necessary and can automate running pre and post scripts if necessary. Once you validate the failover will happen as you want it to, you can do it for real knowing it’s been pretested. If something goes wrong it has a “revert” feature to reverse the cut-over and go back to the source cluster until you can fix the problem. Here are a few good whitepapers on Site Recovery Manager.

3rd Party Replication

DellEMC RP4VMs replicates data prior to cut over. Once you know the data is in sync between the source cluster and destination cluster you can shut down the VM’s in the source cluster and power them up in the destination cluster. So, there is downtime. If something doesn’t go right, you could revert back to the source cluster. There are other 3rd party options on the market including solutions from Zerto and Veeam.

What About VMware Cloud on AWS?

Since vSAN is the underlying storage on VMware Cloud on AWS, all the options above will work for migrating workloads from on Premises to VMware Cloud on AWS.

Summary

Personally, I like the ability to test the failover migration “cut over” using Site Recover Manager so I’d opt for the vSphere Replication + Site Recovery Manager option if possible.  if it’s only a few VM’s and a small amount of data then XvMotion would be the way to go.

Migrating Workloads onto vSAN.png

 

 

 

 

 

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VMware Storage Technology Names & Acronyms

  • vSAN = VMware’s Software Defined Storage Solution formerly known as Virtual SAN or VSAN. Now the only acceptible name is “vSAN” with the little “v”.
  • SPBM = Storage Policy Based Management
  • VASA = vSphere API’s for Storage Awareness
  • VVol = Virtual Volume
  • PE = Protocol Endpoint
  • VAAI = vSphere API’s for Array Integration
  • VAIO Filtering = vSphere API’s for IO Filtering
  • VR = vSphere Replication
  • SRM = Site Recovery Manager
  • VDP = vSphere Data Protection
  • vFRC = vSphere Flash Read Cache
  • VSA = vSphere Storage Appliance (end of life)
  • VMFS = Virtual Machine File System
  • SvMotion = Storage vMotion
  • XvMotion – Across Host, Cluster, vCenter vMotion (without shared storage)
  • SDRS = Storage Distributed Resource Scheduler
  • SIOC = Storage Input Output Control
  • MPIO = Multi Path Input Output

Virtual SAN Disaster Recovery – vSphere Replication (available now) or Virtual RecoverPoint (coming soon), choose your protection!

I’m often asked how to protect Virtual SAN (VSAN). Its simple, any product focused on protecting a virtual machine (VM) will work for protecting VM’s sitting on a VSAN enabled vSphere cluster. VMware offers VDP/VDPA for backup & recovery and there are many other VMware partners with backup & recovery solutions focused on protecting VM’s. Backup & Recovery is a great way to protect data but some customers like the benefit of more granular recovery points that comes from data replication either locally or to a disaster recovery site.

To protect VSAN data in a primary site to a remote disaster recovery site VMware offers vSphere Replication (VR) to replicate the VM data sitting on a VSAN Datastore over the DR site. Of course Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is supported to automate failover, failback and testing. The VR/SRM combined solution can also be used for planned data center migrations. Here are a few great write-ups on the topics:

VMware Virtual SAN Interoperability: vSphere Replication and vCenter Site Recovery Manager

Virtual SAN Interoperability – Planned migration with vSphere Replication and SRM

VSAN and vSphere Replication Interop

One of the main benefits of VR is that it will work to replicate VM data on any storage to another site with hosts connected to any other storage. So, VSAN can be the source, the target, or both.

VSAN & VR

 

vSphere Replication can be set to asynchronously replicate every day, hour, or up to every 15 minutes. Thus providing a Recovery Point Objective (RPO) of up to 15 minutes. For many customers, this is “good enough”. For some customer workloads, asynchronous replication is not “good enough”. They need synchronous replication protection and there are several solutions in the market. One that I’ve been a big fan of for a long time is EMC’s RecoverPoint which has a great reputation for protecting enterprise mission critical data and applications.  Essentially it splits every write transaction, journals it, and synchronously makes a copy of it either locally or to a remote DR site without impacting application performance. Of course there are more details but this is essentially what it does which results in being able to recover back to any point in time. Often it’s labeled as “Tivo or DVR for the data center”. One other benefit of RecoverPoint is it can replicate data from any storage to any storage, as long as there is a splitter for the storage. EMC VNX and VMAX storage arrays have splitters built in.

The big news that just came out last week that peeked my interest is that EMC is now offering a Beta of a completely software based RecoverPoint solution that embeds the splitter into vSphere. This brings the RecoverPoint benefits to any VMware customer running VM’s on any storage: block, file, or of course even VSAN. The EMC initiative is call Project Mercury and for more information check out:

Summer Gift Part 1 – Project Mercury Beta Open!

I’m excited that VSAN customers will have a choice for data protection, asynchronously with 15 minute RPO using vSphere Replication or continuous, synchronous, and asynchronous with EMC’s Virtual RecoverPoint.