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vCloud Air Gets Disaster Recovery Capabilities

Also coming in 2015: advanced networking services.

VMware Inc. has made a number of upgrades to vCloud Air, its hybrid cloud platform formerly known as vCloud Hybrid Service. The most significant of these enhancements is the inclusion, for the first time, of full disaster recovery (DR).

Called VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery, it's a Recovery-as-a-Service (RaaS) offering for both vSphere and vCloud Air customers. Its key features are multiple point-in-time recovery, the ability to failback (replicate back), and automation of recovery plans. It all happens, of course, within vCloud Air.

That's the point, said Scott Collison, VMware's vice president of vCloud Air. "Traditional disaster recovery's so difficult to implement, where you have to replicate datacenters and bring new hardware in and buy very expensive software. The ability to do this in the cloud has been a huge thing for customers in the enterprise, all the way down to the commercial segment."

Up to 500 VMs
vCloud Air Disaster Recovery allows customers to replicate workloads back from vCloud Air to the primary customer environment over the network. Recovery point objective (RPO) service levels are configurable on a self-service basis per virtual machine (VM), anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours. VMware stated in a document that a core disaster recovery subscription can handle up to 500 VMs. Earlier recovery points are necessary, VMware said, because a failure could have compromised the most recent recovery point.

Management of the DR environment will be available through multiple channels: an open source command-line interface, a REST API and a plug-in to the vRealize Orchestrator. Collison confirmed that vCloud Air Disaster Recovery only works in virtual environments; physical machines aren't supported, although it might be considered in the future.

Advanced Networking
The vCloud upgrades go beyond DR, into advanced networking through NSX, VMware software-defined networking (SDN) technology. Important changes here include better security, more efficient routing and more scalability.

Security is improved through defined security groups "that provide stateful network traffic isolation without requiring multiple virtual networks," VMware stated in a press release. "The ability to have very granular network security is the key," Collison said. He listed portal firewall policies as one example of this drill-down ability; an admin can take the already-existing on-premises firewall policies and recreate them in the cloud.

Dynamic routing improvements include support of both Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)- and Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)-based routing, to simplify connections between cloud and on-premises environments.

The VMware Cloud Value Proposition
Better routing will be essential, because vCloud will enable up to 200 virtual network interfaces per virtual datacenter when the advanced networking services go live. "That's huge, if you're connecting a lot of different things [and have] very complex networking requirements," Collison said. "Being able to extend a corporate WAN into the cloud is the key. That's our hybrid cloud value proposition."

Some have said that VMware is late with some of these upgrades; and there is a lot of competition in these areas. Collison said that customers already using vSphere will have an advantage over the field. "Not only do the application architectures on-premises not match within the cloud for our competitors; they have to refactor the app or rewrite it, if it's a traditional app, to get it to run in the cloud. Also, your network topologies don't match in many cases with other providers."

VMware said VMware vCloud Air Disaster Recovery will be available in Q1 of this year, with advanced networking services coming later, sometime in the first half of 2015.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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