TR-4900: VMware Site Recovery Manager with NetApp ONTAP 9

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Chance Bingen, NetApp

ONTAP for vSphere

NetApp ONTAP has been a leading storage solution for VMware vSphere environments since its introduction into the modern datacenter in 2002, and it continues to add innovative capabilities to simplify management while reducing costs. This document introduces the ONTAP solution for VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM), VMware’s industry leading disaster recovery (DR) software, including the latest product information and best practices to streamline deployment, reduce risk, and simplify ongoing management.

Best practices supplement other documents such as guides and compatibility tools. They are developed based on lab testing and extensive field experience by NetApp engineers and customers. In some cases, recommended best practices might not be the right fit for your environment; however, they are generally the simplest solutions that meet the needs of the most customers.

This document is focused on capabilities in recent releases of ONTAP 9 when used in conjunction with supported versions of ONTAP tools for VMware vSphere (which includes the NetApp Storage Replication Adapter [SRA] and VASA Provider [VP]), as well as VMware Site Recovery Manager 8. 4.

Why use ONTAP with SRM?

NetApp data management platforms powered by ONTAP software are some of the most widely adopted storage solutions for SRM. The reasons are plentiful: A secure, high performance, unified protocol (NAS and SAN together) data management platform that provides industry defining storage efficiency, multitenancy, quality of service controls, data protection with space-efficient Snapshot copies and replication with SnapMirror. All leveraging native hybrid multi-cloud integration for the protection of VMware workloads and a plethora of automation and orchestration tools at your fingertips.

When you use SnapMirror for array-based replication, you take advantage of one of ONTAP’s most proven and mature technologies. SnapMirror gives you the advantage of secure and highly efficient data transfers, copying only changed file system blocks, not entire VMs or datastores. Even those blocks take advantage of space savings, such as deduplication, compression, and compaction. Modern ONTAP systems now use version- independent SnapMirror, allowing you flexibility in selecting your source and destination clusters. SnapMirror has truly become one of the most powerful tools available for disaster recovery.

Whether you are using traditional NFS, iSCSI, or Fibre Channel- attached datastores (now with support for vVols datastores), SRM provides a robust first party offering that leverages the best of ONTAP capabilities for disaster recovery or datacenter migration planning and orchestration.

How SRM leverages ONTAP 9

SRM leverages the advanced data management technologies of ONTAP systems by integrating with ONTAP tools for VMware vSphere, a virtual appliance that includes three primary components:

  • The vCenter plug-in, formerly known as Virtual Storage Console (VSC), simplifies storage management and efficiency features, enhances availability, and reduces storage costs and operational overhead, whether you are using SAN or NAS. It uses best practices for provisioning datastores and optimizes ESXi host settings for NFS and block storage environments. For all these benefits, NetApp recommends this plug-in when using vSphere with systems running ONTAP software.

  • The VASA Provider for ONTAP supports the VMware vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) framework. VASA Provider connects vCenter Server with ONTAP to aid in provisioning and monitoring VM storage. It enables VMware Virtual Volumes (vVols) support and the management of storage capability profiles (including vVols replication capabilities) and individual VM vVols performance. It also provides alarms for monitoring capacity and compliance with the profiles. When used in conjunction with SRM, the VASA Provider for ONTAP enables support for vVols- based virtual machines without requiring the installation of an SRA adapter on the SRM server.

  • The SRA is used together with SRM to manage the replication of VM data between production and disaster recovery sites for traditional VMFS and NFS datastores and also for the nondisruptive testing of DR replicas. It helps automate the tasks of discovery, recovery, and reprotection. It includes both an SRA server appliance and SRA adapters for the Windows SRM server and the SRM appliance.

After you have installed and configured the SRA adapters on the SRM server for protecting non-vVols datastores and/or enabled vVols replication in the VASA Provider settings, you can begin the task of configuring your vSphere environment for disaster recovery.

The SRA and VASA Provider deliver a command-and-control interface for the SRM server to manage the ONTAP FlexVols that contain your VMware Virtual Machines (VMs), as well as the SnapMirror replication protecting them.

Starting with SRM 8.3, a new SRM vVols Provider control path was introduced into the SRM server, allowing it to communicate with the vCenter server and, through it, to the VASA Provider without needing an SRA. This enabled the SRM server to leverage much deeper control over the ONTAP cluster than was possible before, because VASA provides a complete API for closely coupled integration.

SRM can test your DR plan nondisruptively using NetApp’s proprietary FlexClone technology to make nearly instantaneous clones of your protected datastores at your DR site. SRM creates a sandbox to safely test so that your organization, and your customers, are protected in the event of a true disaster, giving you confidence in your organizations ability to execute a failover during a disaster.

In the event of a true disaster or even a planned migration, SRM allows you to send any last-minute changes to the dataset via a final SnapMirror update (if you choose to do so). It then breaks the mirror and mounts the datastore to your DR hosts. At that point, your VMs can be automatically powered up in any order according to your pre-planned strategy.

SRM with ONTAP and other use cases: hybrid cloud and migration

Integrating your SRM deployment with ONTAP advanced data management capabilities allows for vastly improved scale and performance when compared with local storage options. But more than that, it brings the flexibility of the hybrid cloud. The hybrid cloud enables you to save money by tiering unused data blocks from your high-performance array to your preferred hyperscaler using FabricPool, which could be an on-premises S3 store such as NetApp StorageGRID. You can also use SnapMirror for edge-based systems with software- defined ONTAP Select or cloud-based DR using Cloud Volumes ONTAP (CVO) or NetApp Private Storage in Equinix for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to create a fully integrated storage, networking, and compute- services stack in the cloud.

You could then perform test failover inside a cloud service provider’s datacenter with near-zero storage footprint thanks to FlexClone. Protecting your organization can now cost less than ever before.

SRM can also be used to execute planned migrations by leveraging SnapMirror to efficiently transfer your VMs from one datacenter to another or even within the same datacenter, whether your own, or via any number of NetApp partner service providers.