Introduction of the Solution Overview

Today, more and more enterprises are virtualizing their business-critical applications to deliver the most value back to their businesses. In a virtualized environment, where physical servers host many virtual servers, the volume of data and the speed of change require new techniques and methods for protecting essential data to ensure business continuity .The widespread use of virtualization and the deployment of converged infrastructure solutions, like the Vblock platform, have created both new opportunities and new challenges. To provide true business continuity and reduce the need for database recovery requires virtualization of the compute resources, the storage and the networking capabilities so that applications can dynamically migrate between geographically dispersed servers. In short, to meet the business challenges presented by today’s on-demand 24/7 world, virtual workloads must be highly available and continuous—in the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost to the enterprise.

How VPLEX with Vblock Storage helps in HA

EMC VPLEX is an innovative business continuity solution that can easily move business applications within or between Vblock systems located in the same data center or metropolitan area. VPLEX can also mirror business-critical data, deliver zero data loss, and ensure automatic near-zero application recovery time. Working in conjunction with VMware vMotion, VPLEX is a hardware and software solution for Vblock systems that provides enhanced availability for business continuity.

VPLEX solves many of the business continuity challenges facing enterprises today. With VPLEX, organizations can:

  • Eliminate planned downtime due to maintenance activities
  • Automatically handle any unplanned events
  •   Load balance between sites to drive higher asset utilization

True Business Continuity requires much more than just point-to-point replication between sites. It requires fully automated recovery from unplanned disasters as well as the capability to avoid downtime for planned maintenance activities. By virtualizing the Vblock storage with VPLEX, VMware HA  and DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler) clusters can be stretched between Vblock platforms in different physical locations to provide non-stop business continuance and also to enable organizational flexibility and workload balancing between sites. This provides the highest level of business continuance and also simplifies the environment and reduces overall costs.

Traditionally, migrating data and applications between dispersed data centers required a series of manual tasks and activities, including replication and disruption during the switchover. Applications would have to be stopped and restarted after testing and verification. Using VPLEX Workload Mobility capabilities with the Vblock platform eliminates the complexity and the need for any disruption. Applications can now be moved between physical servers in different sites as easily as they are commonly moved between physical servers located in a single data center. This enables to use cases of disaster and planned downtime avoidance at the data center level. Combined with VMware DRS, it also enables fully automated workload balancing between sites – effectively merging disparate resources in different locations into a single pool of resources – storage, network, and compute. The result is a much higher levels of resilience, increasing data protection and reducing unplanned application outages between sites.

VPLEX does this by creating Distributed Virtual Volumes which are storage volumes located in two separate Vblock platforms that are 100% in sync at all times. Once the distributed storage device is established, applications can be started immediately at the remote location, even before all the data has been replicated. The VPLEX solution provides the dynamic storage infrastructure required to migrate applications, virtual machines and data within, across and between remote data centers with no interruption of service and zero data loss. It works in conjunction with VMware vMotion and a back-up solution such as Avamar used also for tier 2 or tier 3 applications.

Because of VPLEX’s AccessAnywhere technology which makes a storage volume simultaneously available in both locations, common high availability clusters such as VMware HA work as seamlessly across datacenters as they do within. Should any failure cause applications in a Vblock platform to go down (site loss, loss of access to storage, etc.), the storage will be accessible in the alternate Vblock platform allowing VMware HA to restart the applications there. In some configurations and for many failure scenarios, application restarts can even be avoided. VPLEX, in combination with Vblock systems, facilitates business continuity through the creation of distributed virtual volumes, which are storage volumes located in two separate Vblock systems. These virtual volumes are 100% in sync at all times. The VPLEX solution provides the dynamic storage infrastructure required to migrate applications, virtual machines, and data within and between remote locations with no disruption of service.

VPLEX provides data access from the primary and target sites in an active-active mode, eliminating the need to move the underlying storage and making migration dramatically faster. AccessAnywhere, the distributed cache coherent technology in VPLEX, enables simultaneous read/write data access. Properly configured, VPLEX delivers a zero RPO and a near-zero RTO. Below is the diagram of the architecture.



The VPLEX solution for Vblock systems uses the following key hardware and software components and technologies:

  • VCE Vblock Systems
  • VMware vCenter Server
  • VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat
  • VMware vSphere High Availability (HA)
  • VMware vMotion

VCE Vblock systems combine industry-leading compute, network, storage, virtualization, and management technologies into prepackaged units of infrastructure. Through the standardization of building blocks, the Vblock system dramatically simplifies IT operations—accelerating deployment while reducing costs and improving service levels for all workloads, including the most demanding and mission-critical enterprise applications. Vblock systems scale to deliver the right performance and capacity to match the needs of business applications. The following Vblock systems are available:

  • Vblock Series 300 is designed to address a wide spectrum of virtual machines, users, and applications and is ideally suited to achieve the scale required in private and public cloud environments. Vblock 300 scales from smaller- to mid-sized enterprise Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM), e-mail, file and print, and collaboration deployments.
  • Vblock Series 700 is designed for deployments involving very large numbers of virtual machines and users and is ideally suited to meet the higher performance and availability requirements of critical business applications. Vblock 700 scales to the largest deployments of enterprise CRM and SCM, data center operations, and service provider cloud computing offerings.



Different Flavors of EMC VPLEX

VPLEX Local provides seamless, non-disruptive data mobility and the ability to manage multiple heterogeneous arrays from a single interface within a data center. VPLEX Local allows increased availability, simplified management, and improved utilization across multiple arrays.

VPLEX Metro with EMC AccessAnywhere delivers distributed federation and enables active/active block-level access to data between two sites within synchronous distances of up to a 5-millisecond round-trip time. VPLEX Metro, in combination with VMware vMotion, allows transparent movement and relocation of virtual machines and their corresponding applications and data over distance. AccessAnywhere enables a single copy of data to be shared, accessed, and relocated over distance.

VPLEX Geo with AccessAnywhere enables active-active, block level access to data between two sites within asynchronous distances. VPLEX Geo enables better cost-effective use of resources and power.

Geo provides the same distributed device flexibility as Metro but extends the distance up to and within 50 ms RTT. As with any Asynchronous transport media, bandwidth is also important to consider for optimal behavior as well as application sharing on the link.

VPLEX Witness is an optional, but highly recommended, component designed for deployment in customer environments where the regular bias rule sets are insufficient to provide seamless zero or near-zero Recovery Time Objective (RTO) failover in the event of site disasters and VPLEX cluster failures. By reconciling its own observations with the information reported periodically by the clusters, VPLEX Witness enables the cluster(s) to distinguish between inter-cluster network partition failures and cluster failures and to resume I/O automatically in these situations.


Below diagram displays the different flavors:-vblock3.png

High availability is the key requirements for efficient, cost-effective IT operations in virtualized data centers. VPLEX Local or Metro with VMware vMotion provides a comprehensive solution that fulfills these requirements and ensures business continuity and workload mobility for Vblock systems. VPLEX Metro enables transparent load sharing among multiple sites and the flexibility to relocate workloads between sites in anticipation of planned events.

In the event that a site fails unexpectedly, failed services can be restarted at the surviving site with minimal effort and time to recovery. In a VPLEX with VPLEX Witness configuration, applications continue to operate in the surviving site with no interruption or downtime.

The combination of Vblock systems, VPLEX & vMotion provides new ways to solve IT problems, allowing administrators to:

  • Move applications and their data between data centers with no disruption so that they are continuously available.
  • Provide continuous operations during and after site disasters.
  • Balance workloads across Vblock systems so that HA is ensured by not pressurizing the existing resources.
  • Collaborate over distance with shared data so that HA is effectively implemented.
  • Aggregate data centers and provide 24/7 availability.


For the detailed explanation of the above overview, you may click here.