VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery – Solution Validation

In the previous post, I talked about the VCDR (VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery) solution overview.  The best way to determine if a solution is the right fit is to validate the solution in a similar environment to where it might run in production. For this post, the focus is on validating the solution and ensuring a successful POC (Proof of Concept) or Pilot.  As always, please contact me or your local VMware team if you would like to hear more, or have an opportunity to test this out in your environment.

Successful Validation Plans

The key to any successful validation plan is proper planning.  For testing, it is always best to look for 2-3 use cases at most to be tested.  In the case of VCDR, generally the following tests make the most sense.

  • Successfully recover one or two windows or Linux web servers – Web servers are usually fairly simple to test initially.  Linux servers are generally faster to build and the license is open source making for a good test case.
  • Successfully recover a 3-tier app – Often time using two to three Linux VM’s running a Web Server, an App Server, and a Database Server, something such as WordPress or similar running on Linux, is often a good candidate since it is simple to setup and makes for a set of virtual machines, which must be connected or the app will not work properly.
  • An addition or an alternative for the 3-tier app would be any similar internal application which is a copy of production or a development system which could be leveraged for testing.

The purpose of the test is to demonstrate replication of the virtual machines into the DR (Disaster Recovery) environment; the actual application is less relevant than validating the functionality of the solution.

Setting up the “on premises” environment

It is critical for a POC to never connect production. POC’s are very much meant to be a demonstration of how things might work within a lab. The POC environment is for a finite period, typically 14 days or less, just enough to demonstrate a few simple tests.

The Lab setup for this should be very simple. A single vSphere host, or a very small isolated cluster will suffice, with a vCenter instance and the test application installed. A small OVA will be installed in the environment as a part of the POC so there should be sufficient capacity for that as well.

One of the most critical prerequisites to be addressed before beginning is the network connectivity. For most POC’s it is recommended to use a Route based VPN connection to isolate traffic, although policy based could work.  This will generally require engaging the network and firewall teams to prepare the environment.

Protecting the test workloads

The test cases above should be agreed upon.  The following is a formalized test plan that will be included in the POC test document.

  1. Demonstrate application protection and DR testing.  This will be accomplished by the following.
    1. Protect a single 3 tier application such as WordPress or similar from the lab environment into the VCDR environment.
    2. Complete up to 2 Full DR Recovery Tests and demonstrate the application running in the VCDR Pilot Light Environment.

The POC is very straight forward.  Simply deploy the VCDR Connector OVA to your lab vCenter, register the lab vCenter with the VCDR environment, and create the first protection group. 

In the case of a POC, there will only be a single protection group.  We will add the three WordPress virtual machines to our demo using a pattern name based on how we named them.

Creating a DR Plan requires mapping the protected site, the lab in this case, resources to resources in our cloud DR environment.  

A key decision point is in the virtual network.  You can choose to use the same network mappings for failover and testing.  In the POC we can use the same networks, but for a production deployment we want to ensure they are separate so we can run our tests in a bubble without impacting production workloads.

Once we are all set up, the last thing to do is replicate the protection group, and then we can run our failover testing into the VMC on AWS nodes connected as VCDR Pilot Light nodes.

While this is fairly straightforward, the key to any successful POC is to have very specific success criteria.  Be sure to understand what you want to test and how you will show a successful outcome.  Provided the 3-tiered app model fits your business model, this is a great use case to start with to validate the solution and get some hands on experience.  For more hands on experience, check out our Hands on Lab, https://docs.hol.vmware.com/HOL-2021/hol-2193-01-ism_html_en/, and be sure to come back for more VMC on AWS as we continue to look at the direction the cloud continues to go and the future of VMware. 

VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery – Solution Validation