This is the fifth installment in a blog series focused on the needs of Service Providers. You can find links to all blogs in this series at the end of this article.
Because of the expense of maintaining a secondary location for disaster recovery and remote backup, companies of all sizes are looking to take advantage of the cloud for these functions. In particular, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), who may not have a second datacenter or be able to afford to duplicate infrastructure, are interested in these services. With the launch of the Nutanix Xpress platform, this need is growing rapidly.
DRaaS and DPaaS providers fill this need. The challenge is to create an infrastructure that can efficiently ingest large amounts of customer data while also providing the necessary compute capacity to bring up customer applications during a system failover, all with low TCO to give you better margins.
A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud supports flexible platform options to scale compute and storage and the ability to repurpose infrastructure quickly to address failover scenarios. A big advantage of the Nutanix approach is that you can support different types of services using the same infrastructure (IaaS, DaaS, managed services, DR, backup, and so on) so you don’t have to dedicate silos of resources for each service, and you have a lot of flexibility to change the resource mix as you grow.
For example, a mixed cluster consisting of storage-heavy nodes for data ingest and a smaller set of compute-heavy nodes to support failover scenarios is ideal for DR and backup. As you grow out your services, you can easily rebalance resources incrementally: more capacity to support a higher proportion of backup customers, more compute to support a higher proportion of DR customers, and so on. Excess compute capacity can be allocated for another service entirely such as IaaS.
Building Blocks for Data Protection and DR
Nutanix provides a set of features that are foundational for backup and DR. All services are VM-centric and optimized for virtual environments. All services but synchronous replication are based on Nutanix’ space-efficient snapshot capability.
Other snapshot implementations rely on time-consuming data copies or use copy-on-write (COW) algorithms that affect write performance and limit the number of snapshots that can be kept. The Nutanix approach mitigates these limitations. Because Nutanix snapshots have access to all the storage capacity available on a cluster, you can store more snapshots for longer periods without worrying about the complexities of reserving space or maxing out individual LUNs or volumes.
For backup, Nutanix provides local and remote capabilities:
Local backup uses snapshots protected by the resiliency of the Nutanix architecture.
Remote backup replicates periodic snapshots to a second datacenter.
Both services benefit from deduplication, compression, and Nutanix EC-X. With EC-X, erasure coding across nodes provides superior resilience while reducing capacity requirements. This combination of technologies saves significant capacity, allowing you to increase margins—or undercut competitors on price.
For disaster recovery, Nutanix provides both asynchronous and synchronous replication.
Asynchronous replication allows a single data stream to support both backup and DR requirements, saving network bandwidth and secondary storage.
Synchronous replication is provided by Nutanix Metro Availability. Data is written synchronously to both sites, so it is available to applications in the event a site fails or needs maintenance. You can non-disruptively migrate VMs between sites for planned maintenance events or other needs.
DR/DPaaS for Existing Nutanix Customers
Nutanix has over 2,500 customers with a rapidly growing installed base across a variety of industries including healthcare, financial services, government, education, media and entertainment and many others.
Service providers who deploy Nutanix infrastructure can offer backup and DR services using native Nutanix capabilities as a value add to Nutanix customers. Both asynchronous and synchronous services can be architected to give customers autonomy over their DR environments or to provide managed DR, where your team manages customer services that failover.
With the Nutanix App Mobility Fabric (AMF), customers can run their choice of hypervisor on-premises and transparently failover to a different hypervisor running at your site. For example, a customer might run ESXi on-premises, but you might run AHV to save on hypervisor licensing costs and simplify management.
DR/DP as an Adjunct to IaaS and Managed Services
If you are an Infrastructure as a Service or Managed Service Provider who uses Nutanix infrastructure, you can use Nutanix-native DR and backup to create and offer premium data protection services for your customers without making big investments in additional hardware and software.
Even synchronous replication can be offered as a premium service with minimal constraints. The only network requirement is a roundtrip latency between sites of 5 milliseconds or less. These services benefit immediately from Nutanix data reduction, saving you network bandwidth and capacity.
DR/DPaaS for Non-Nutanix or Heterogeneous Customer Environments
For customers with on-premises infrastructure other than Nutanix, you can offer DR and backup services utilizing well-known data protection software from industry leaders such as CommVault, Veeam, and Zerto. Nutanix is partnering with industry-leading data protection companies to support a wide range of options.
A Nutanix enterprise cloud solution gives service providers a lot of flexibility to architect DR, backup, and other services without creating silos of specialized infrastructure and without having to license a lot of additional software from multiple vendors. Be sure to follow Nutanix on Twitter or reach out to us directly to get a demo and a deep dive into all of our technology. Also, continue to watch this space as this series expands.
Nutanix Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) is a software module developed by Nutanix according to specifications defined by VMware. Nutanix SRA contains a set of scripts that uses the Prism REST APIs to interact with Nutanix clusters. The SRA is installed on the VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) server as a plugin that enables the SRM to perform “Array-Based Replication” (ABR) using Nutanix replication, data protection (DP) and disaster recovery (DR) functionality.
Figure 1 illustrates a simplified view of the topology of a typical DR solution built on Nutanix clusters with Nutanix SRA and VMware SRM and vCenter servers
Figure 1. Simplified DR solution built on Nutanix clusters with Nutanix SRA and VMware SRM and vCenter servers.
The DR solution consists of two sites: Protected Site and Recovery Site. The Protected Site is usually the Production Site; and the Recovery Site, the DR Site. Each site has a Nutanix cluster with 3 or more nodes where VMs are hosted with VMware ESXi being the hypervisor. Nutanix Prism manages the clusters, VMs and Nutanix replication.
Each site also has a VMware vCenter and SRM server that manage the site pairing and site recovery operations. The vCenter servers in the Protected and Recovery Sites also manage the VMs inside the Protected Datacenter (Protected_DC) and Recovery Datacenter (Recovery_DC), respectively. Note that the vCenter and SRM servers are hosted on an infrastructure cluster elsewhere (not shown in Figure 1).
VMware SRM is a DR solution that helps customers to plan, test, manage and perform recovery of VMs among different sites. When the SRM is used with Nutanix SRA to carry out an operation such as failover, failback, or planned migration, it delegates the tasks to the Nutanix SRA, which calls the appropriate Prism REST APIs to the Nutanix cluster to execute the tasks. When the tasks are completed, the results are sent back to the SRM.
In general, 3rd party SRA is an integral part of the VMware SRM DR solution where array-based replication is used. And VMware has established rigorous SRA Certification for SRM programs to certify partners’ SRAs. The main goals of the certification are:
To validate the compatibility of a partner’s SRA with a specific version of SRM and a specific storage platform and replication method.
To verify that the SRA is in compliance with the applicable VMware-defined SRA specification.
Once successfully certified, the SRA is then listed on the VMware Compatibility Guide (vCG).
Nutanix SRA has successfully passed the VMware SRA for SRM certifications. The latest certified Nutanix SRA is version 2.2 (see Figure 2), and it is listed on the VMware Compatibility Guide (vCG) website at the following link [go].
Figure 2. Nutanix SRA 2.2 on VMware vCG
Nutanix SRA 2.2 was certified with Acropolis 4.6 and for the following 5 different VMware SRM versions: