VMware is seeking to expand the role virtualization by making it a basis for disaster recovery of the data center.
Disaster recovery typically consists of maintaining duplicate hardware and software at a site different from the primary data center. In the event of flood, fire or earthquake, the second data center's facilities start up and replace the primary center.
Such disaster recovery, however, is hard to maintain. The software/hardware configurations change frequently in the primary data center and must change also in the secondary one. And it's hard to test disaster recovery based on physical duplicates, says VMware's Melinda Wilkin, senior director of marketing. No one wants to shut down a data center to see whether the failover site can pick up the workloads. Even if it can, it might take a weekend or longer, with well drilled IT staffers following a binder-full of step-by-step instructions, she said.
VMware says the process can be automated with its new Site Recovery Manager. Duplicates of existing hardware/software configurations are created as virtual machines and installed in secondary data center. They do not need exact matching hardware because each virtual machine contains its own operating system that is capable of interfacing to many hardware variants through a hypervisor.
VMware's existing Virtual Infrastructure 3 and its central management console, Virtual Center, can generate the duplicates of existing data center servers. Site Recovery Manager working with Virtual Center can generate a site recovery plan and test the recovery plan in an isolated virtual environment, including a virtualized network, Wilkin said.