Leveraging Backup and Replication with Hypervisors

By CIOReview | Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The primary reason to use multiple hypervisors is cost savings. Although VMware is the dominant hypervisor in most data centers today, alternatives such as Hyper-V from Microsoft, XenServer from Citrix and several Linux-based options have started offering hypervisor alternatives as well. In the past, implementing alternative hypervisors meant giving up advanced features such as automated resource balancing and live server migration. As migrating to hypervisors have become easier, organizations now see a value in becoming a multi-hypervisor data center.

The Hyper-V Server from Microsoft offers significant cost savings in compared to the standard licensing fees from VMware’s solutions. Although new hypervisor servers lack some features from VMware, they have closed the gap for some technological barriers that are not addressed by VMware. Apart from the added functionalities, some hypervisor alternatives are more convenient in terms of its usability. For example, Hyper-V is easier to use for a Windows-only data center as it is closely integrated into the operating system. This condition holds true for cloud provider offered Linux-based environments as well, as selecting a Linux-based hypervisor is less complex compared to integrating VMware. As many large public cloud providers are not based on VMware, organizations often find themselves running on another hypervisor.

Backup and recovery between multiple hypervisors

The most effortless way to swap between multiple hypervisors is to leverage backup and recovery tools. Hypervisors such as Dell AppAssure, that support each hypervisor natively, makes it easy for this transition. In such scenarios, organizations have to only recover the VM while moving to that hypervisor. The primary challenge with this method is the downtime for the VM that is needed during the final backup and recovery. The time required to perform these two steps makes this option only viable for smaller VMs that can be moved during a planned maintenance window.

Replication between hypervisors

For situations where the movements between hypervisors need to occur in real-time, hypervisors replication is the perfect solution. Some products have the capability to run as instances on cloud service provider platforms and furthermore, run on multiple operating systems and hypervisors.

Leveraging such tools, data centers can use alternate hypervisors for more than just planned maintenances, like being part of a stand-by or bursting strategy of the organization. Due to real-time data replication, it is as easy as shutting down the VM on the primary hypervisor and then starting the VM on the secondary hypervisor.

One of the use cases for this capability is to leverage the alternate hypervisor during disaster recovery. The ability to replicate in cloud eliminates the need for standby hardware in the primary datacenters.

Integrating hypervisors into VMware

Some applications integrate hypervisors directly into the vCenter console. This enables the administrators to drag and drop VMs from one hypervisor or cloud to another—with all the features triggered from the same VMware-type of mouse commands. This results into a seamless migration and management of VMs without the need of learning a new interface.

Free hypervisors have been available for years. Such lower-cost hypervisors are proving to be a critical capability for all data centers. This multi-hypervisor data center is solely possible due to the ability of quickly and transparently move data between the hypervisor types.