Symantec Improves Virtualized App Recovery With VMware DR Support, Dashboard Management

The newest version of Symantec’s application high availability product for virtual environments provides tight integration with VMware’s disaster recovery capabilities and a dashboard for monitoring and managing multiple applications through the VMware vCenter Server console. Application HA, which came to market last fall, brings deeper application awareness to VMware so that failed apps can be quickly detected and restarted.

June 27, 2011

3 Min Read
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The newest version of Symantec’s application high availability product for virtual environments provides tight integration with VMware’s disaster recovery capabilities and a dashboard for monitoring and managing multiple applications through the VMware vCenter Server console. Application High Availability (HA), which came to market last fall, brings deeper application awareness to VMware so that failed apps can be quickly detected and restarted.

Ensuring application availability is the greatest challenge in managing virtualized servers, according to an IDC survey cited by Symantec, and is generally recognized, along with security, as an impediment to virtualizing business-critical applications.

"The biggest challenge within the context of a virtual infrastructure is to monitor and take corrective action, specifically from an HA perspective if applications fail," says Ashish Nadkarni, senior analyst and consultant for Taneja Group.

VMware HA provides high availability at the hypervisor and virtual machine level, but not for the applications running on the VM. There are several problematic scenarios that Application HA addresses, including infrastructure failure; the VM is running but the app is down; the VM recovers after a server failure, but the application doesn’t; the application is running but is not functional. Application HA monitors application health--that is to say, it does not measure application performance, but rather defines and monitors its service group dependencies in the VMware environment. It quickly detects failures and automatically restarts the app. It can trigger VMware HA for additional recovery if that is required. The goal is to keep critical business applications running and minimize downtime.

"Think about it this way: Why did people cluster applications and provide HA for applications in a physical environment?" says Nadkarni. "In a virtual infrastructure, there is no such protection. VMware HA does not have much application intelligence." So, VMware HA will restart the VM if it fails, the host server is restarted or if the VM is brought up in another location in a disaster recovery scenario. But non-functional applications have to be tracked and manually started.

Lacking a tool such as Application HA, enterprises might use OS-based clustering in the guest, Symantec says. However, this prevents them from taking advantage of key VMware capabilities, such as vMotion, dynamic resource scheduling and distributed power management with VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler. Scripts require development and maintenance and slower recovery than Application HA, Symantec says.Specifically, the latest release of Application HA provides tight integration with VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager for disaster recovery. Application HA now ensures that the application is running on the DR site and provides monitoring on application instances on both the primary and recovery sites. It also provides an audit trail of application status on both. In addition, enterprises can now monitor hundreds of applications in large-scale deployments through a dashboard available in the vCenter Server management console. Administrators can monitor application health, receive status reports and initiate action across a complex VMware environment through a "single pane of glass."

ApplicationHA now offers wider guest platform OS support, including Win32 for enterprises that have not migrated to 64-bit platforms and earlier versions of vSphere (4.0, 4.1), as well as SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 5.1 and Oracle Enterprise Linux 5.x.

Nadkarni believes Symantec is in a position to provide very strong HA capabilities for the virtual environment on a level that it provided for physical clustering through its Veritas acquisition and subsequent development.

"Only time will tell if it’s a silver bullet, but it’s definitely promising," he says. "Veritas has had the best for clustering any and all applications in a physical environment. Now think about bringing that kind of engineering expertise to the virtual environment."

ApplicationHA is priced at $435 per VM.

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