vSphere 5.1: Getting started with vSphere Replication 5.1

With the release of vSphere 5.1 today VMware integrated vSphere Replication into the basic product, without the need of buying any separate license. Only with the Essential Kit you will not have access to it.

Last year vSphere Replication was released and already build into vSphere 5.0, but you needed to buy VMware Site Recovery Manager to install and use it.

That’s definitely a great news especially for SMB, which may note have multiple enterprise storage systems with integrated replication.  Also VMware did a lot of improvement to vSphere Replication itself. It´s now much easier to deploy and to configure, and that’s exactly what I´m going to show in this post.

In my lab environment I´m using to independent vCenter installations, each with a couple of ESXi hosts, shared and local storage etc.

 

Setup:

1.)    After you downloaded the vSphere Replication appliance here  you just need to deploy it.

The deployment process is pretty much self-explaining. In one of the last steps you need to configure the IP settings for your appliance. Of course you need to make sure that it can reach the vCenter server. Repeat this step now also for the second vCenter instance. Keep in mind that both vSphere Replication appliances need to be able to connect to each other.

 

 

 

 

2.)    When the deployment finished you  should see already a new icon on the home screen. If this is not the case, please logout and login again.

 

 

 

3.)    Inside vSphere Replication click the  summary tab. Here you will see your local site and an empty table for remote sites. Btw.: You can also replicate VMs within a single local site (for example from one ESXi host with local storage to another one). Click “Sites” on the left and you will get access to the configuration options for your local site. Select “Connect remote site” from the menu.

 

In the upcoming window you need to enter  the IP-address and credentials of your second vCenter instance at your target site. If you followed the documentation you may stuck at this point, because always a connection between the two appliances is mentioned.

 

 

After you connected the sites successfully you see will see now both sites below the summary tab.

 

 

 

 

Configure a VM for replication:

If you finished the setup successfully we can now go on and configure our first VM for replication from one primary site to the secondary site.

 

4.) To get started just right-click the VM you  want to configure in the inventory.  You will notice an additional menu entry on the bottom called “All vSphere Replication Actions”. Click on “Configure Replication”, which you will find in the next menu.

You will find this option in all different kind of views, where you get listed the VM in the inventory (Host & Cluster, VMs & Template etc.).

 

 

 

 

 

5.) In the first step you need to select the  target where you want to replicate your VM. Select the remote target we configured before.

 

 

 

 

6.) The second step asks you for the target  location. Here you need to specify the datastore you want to put the replicated VM on.

If you select the checkbox “Advanced disk configuration” the wizard will add additional steps for each VMDK your VM has assigned.

 

7.) In the next step you need to configure the  Recovery Point Objective (RPO) time.  This time defines in which intervals your VM data gets replicated to the target location. The default time is set to 4 hours, but you can select between 5 minutes and 24 hours.

The right setting totally depends on your use case. If you may have just a low bandwidth connection between your two sites for example you shouldn’t set the time to 5 minutes.

You can also select if you want quiescing for your guest OS. This works in the background with the Microsoft VSS service. In my case I selected a Linux VM, that’s why the option is grayed out.

 

8.) The last step shows a summary of your  configuration. Review it and click Finish.

 

 

 

 

 

9.) If you switch now to vSphere Replication  you will see that you have an outgoing replication on Site A and on Site B an incoming replication.

When you select “Sites” on the left and then switch to the summary tab you will get a nice overview / statistics of all your replications.

Now you should take you some minutes time to explore all the menus and options to get used to it. We need to wait anyway until your configured VM got the initial full sync to the target location 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Recover a replicated VM:

Now it’s time to really prove this whole replication feature.  In my test scenario I´m going now to power down my entire primary site. Afterwards I will try to recover my VM I configured for replication in the steps before at Site B.

 

10.) Go to vSphere Replication at Site B.  Here you should still find your VM below “Incoming Replications”.  Select your VM and select the “Recover” option.

 

 

 

 

11.) Before you can proceed, you are  getting an important warning. Read it twice, because if you are going to implement vSphere Replication into a production environment you need to be aware of this.

 

 

 

12.) A quite simple wizard will guide you  through the recovery process. You just need to specify a folder and a resource (cluster or host), where to put your recovered VM. Verify the summary and click Finish.

 

 

 

 

And that’s it! My VM is now running on Site B on local storage during my Site A with shared storage is completely turned off.

I think that’s really a quite easy setup and the configuration isn´t also such hard. If you compare it to vSphere 5.0, it´s definitely a huge improvement. And again….it’s for free now! 🙂

Comments

  1. Thanks for the tip on connecting to vCenter at dr and not the vra.

  2. Hi
    when connecting to remote site in the above config, i can see you entered ‘root’ as user name, what is this user name? do we have to enter appliance user name and password or vcenter username and password? Pls let me know
    regards
    rob

    • May you should have a look at my wording again 🙂

      “In the upcoming window you need to enter the IP-address and credentials of your second vCenter instance at your target site. If you followed the documentation you may stuck at this point, because always a connection between the two appliances is mentioned.”

      It´s root as username because I was using the vCenter Linux appliance.

      • Hi vMario,
        Thanks for your reply. I have installed vsphere replication 5.5 in each site exactly the same way, but when i navigate to Vsphere replication -> Home i could see both the vcentre servers ( Note: Both Vcenter servers are in linked mode), but one vsphere replication status shows ‘not installed’ but when i login to other vecnter server i see the opposite meaning if i logon to site-1’s vcentre then i can see vcenter replication status of other site’s vsphere replication service as ‘not installed’. Similarly when i try to add the remote site name under manage -> vsphere replication, i get the following error :
        Cannot connect to the specified site. The site might not be available on the network or a network configuration problem might exist. Check your connection details and try again.
        Any idea? I appreciate your help.
        regards
        rob

  3. Hi Rob,
    did you check that your appliance is able to communicate with the remote vCenter, ESXi Hosts and the other appliance (same subnet or a working route)?
    Also keep the required ports in mind that are needed. See this KB for more details: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1009562
    I guess that during the configuration step you descripe only port 80 to the remote vCenter is used, but I´m not 100% sure about that.

    Cheers,
    Mario

  4. Thanks for your reply mario,
    I have a site to site vpn between the sites nothing is restricted in terms of ports. windows firewall is disabled on both vcenter servers. interestingly, i could see port 80 is already in use on vcentre. is there anything else i could try.

    regards
    rob.

  5. karlochacon says

    hi

    I would like to know how to provide Replication as a Service?

    We have a Datacenter and some customers started asking for Replication as a service…. but this is what is happening

    Our datacenter is 1 vCenter and 10 ESXi hosts, we normally create VMs that customers need and that’s it so far, we manage all the environment so all networking to manage vCenter and ESXi is private, our customer use site to site VPNs or something to communicate to their VMs in our Datacenters….they don’t have access to let’s say “our internal management network”

    but when talking about replication I think we have some problems with that service since Vvmware Replication needs to contact vCenter IP, so creating the pair for replication the customer will need to have access from his Vmware replication to our vCenter….

    I was thinking about NAT our vCenter IP for every customer that needs Replication but I am reading Vmware Replication does not work really well with NAT idea how to manage this?

    how to manage this to have multiple tenant or just one tenant replication to our site without compromising security

    thanks a lot

  6. Hi vMario
    i have the same problem as @raininghere with vSphere replication 5.8.
    checked the firewall ports, working well.
    any ideas

  7. Hi guys, I’m also getting… “Cannot connect to the specified site. The site might not be available on the network or a network configuration problem might exist. Check your connection details and try again..”

    I’ve tried everything, and can figure this out! I can login to both vCenters, and both Replication Servers from both sites, vice-versa. I even get asked to verify the thumbprint of each side during initial setup, then get the error.

    Anybody solve this yet?

    Thanks!

  8. on my company we had installed the version 5.8.0.1 it stopped to work then downgrade from 5.8.0.1 to 5.5, it woks but configure vsphere replication option grey out on VM right click menu
    we restart vSphere server and it did not solve the issue.

    please advise.

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