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How to perform offline data transfer for vCloud Air…online

By Jason Crouch, Consultant, Data#3

VMware’s vCloud Air Disaster Recovery is a recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) solution, offering Cloud-based disaster recovery capabilities for VMware vSphere virtual environments.

vCloud Air offline data transferIt’s an ideal Disaster Recovery solution for businesses with a single data centre that want to have their core business applications available in the event of a disaster, without having to invest in traditional datacentre costs. It is also great for those with secondary data centres looking to transition to a Cloud-based service.

Moving enterprise data from its current location to the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery service is technically a straight forward process. If you’ve got an existing vSphere environment, all you need is a vCloud Air Disaster Recovery subscription and a replication appliance.

Online or Offline Data Transfer

The online data transfer process is the easiest way to move data, but this is reliant on your network capability and the amount of data you need to replicate.

If you’ve got a couple of virtual machines with moderate data sizes, then online is the way to go. But, if you’ve got a significant amount of data to move, then the offline data transfer (ODT) process may be the fastest way to get your virtual machines to the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery service. Of course your network topology will play a big part in which way you go.

The catch with the offline process is that it requires the virtual machine to be powered off when copied to the ODT media. The online replication doesn’t.

If you have a virtual server with terabytes of data, it may be a challenge to schedule an outage long enough to allow you to power down and transfer the data to the ODT media.

vCloud Air Disaster Recovery Offline Data Transfer

The solution is to take advantage of the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery ODT sync process. The replication setup of a virtual machine (VM) steps through a number of options including selecting the recovery point objective etc. It is during this setup, that there is an option to select an existing seeded image. This is usually the virtual machine you powered off, cloned to the ODT media, then sent to VMware and waited for them to seed.

If you can’t power off your VM for the OTD process, you can perform a live VM clone in the existing vSphere environment. Then, once completed, use the powered off clone for the ODT process. Once it’s in the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery environment, you can then initiate a replication setup on the original VM and select the cloned seed in the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery setup.

The replication service will look at the changes since the original clone and initiate a sync to update the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery VM instance with any changes.

Keep in mind that the data rate of change will impact how long this initial re sync will take.

It is also worth considering the following if you plan on using this process;

  • The replicated VM in the vCloud Air Disaster Recovery will have a different MAC address from the original virtual machine.
  • The process isn’t officially endorsed or documented by VMware.
  • You need to have sufficient resources on the source site to accommodate the live clone.
  • The process should only be used if you can’t use the online or existing ODT process.

You may also want to look at alternative ways to protect your data in the event of a disaster. For example, you could consider building a DFS server in the vCloud Air Virtual Private data centre and sync the data. If you’ve got terabytes of data with a limited Internet pipe and limited outage windows, then this process may be the fastest way to get your data protected with vCloud Air Disaster Recovery.

For more information on vCloud air, check out https://data3.com/vmware/vcloud-air/

Tags: Cloud, VMware vCloud Air, VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

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