Tag: Disaster Recovery

Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Services

Disaster Recovery using Azure Site Recovery

Nearly a year ago Microsoft released a Disaster Recovery solution called Hyper-V Recovery Manager. This was basically a hosted orchestration engine in Microsoft Azure which allowed you to orchestrate datacenter failovers using the in Hyper-V build in feature called Hyper-V Replica.

Microsoft Azure Site Recovery

In 2014 Microsoft invested a lot of work and time to improve this service and in January 2014 HRM changed the name to Azure Site Recovery (ASR).

  • In January 2014 Microsoft announced GA of the Azure Site Recovery service which allowed you to use it for DR Orchestration between on-premises Hyper-V sites using Hyper-V Replica
  • In July 2014 Microsoft acquired a company called InMage and integrated DR Orchestration between on-premises VMware sites using the InMage solution.
  • In October 2014 Microsoft announced the GA for Azure Site Recovery DR Orchestration between Hyper-V on-premises and Microsoft Azure.

At TechEd Europe, Microsoft announced some new stuff coming in the next couple of months.

  • In November 2014 Microsoft will offer a public preview for Azure Site Recovery using SAN Replication. This allows you to use your existing SAN replication and orchestrate your DR with Microsoft Azure Site Recovery.
  • In 2015 Microsoft will allow you to use Azure Site Recovery to replicate your VMware and physical servers to Microsoft Azure.
  • With Update Rollup 4 for System Center 2012 R2 and Azure Pack, Microsoft integrated Azure Site Recovery as a plan or Add-on property for VM clouds. This allows service providers to offer Azure Site Recovery to customers as an option of a VM Cloud plan or Add-On.

Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Services

This is just a quick overview about the possibilities you have with Azure Site Recovery. I will cover some advanced scenarios in with a series of blog posts in the next couple of weeks. Until then I would recommend you to watch the session with Michel Lüscher and me at System Center Universe Europe where we talked about the Azure Site Recovery solutions before the TechEd announcements.



System Center Universe Europe 2014

My sessions from System Center Universe Europe 2014 available on Channel9

As I already posted I was presenting at System Center Universe Europe 2014 (SCU Europe) in Basel this year. Microsoft now made the recordings available on Channel9 and you can now watch them for free.

Disaster Recovery with Azure Site Recovery

Together with Michel Lüscher (Architect at Microsoft) I was showing how you can deploy a fully automated Disaster Recovery solution based on Microsoft Hyper-V Replica, System Center Virtual Machine Manager and Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager.

Software Defined Networking – Comparison of different solutions

Together with Walter Dey (Former Cisco Distinguished Engineer) I held the session about different SDN (Software Defined Networking) solutions on the market. This session will provide an overview about Software-Defined Networking and compare different solutions such as Microsoft Hyper-V Network Virtualization based on NVGRE and Cisco VXLAN and VMware NSX.

E2EVC Copenhagen

Speaking at E2EVC 2014 Barcelona

This year I was already speaking at the E2E Virtualization Conference in Brussels. Together with Michael Rüefli I was talking about the Microsoft CloudOS and how you can build a Cloud based on this technology such as Windows Server, Hyper-V, Storage Spaces and Windows Azure Pack.

From 24-26 October the E2EVC will take place in Barcelona, Spain. In one session I will speak about Disaster Recovery with Hyper-V Replica and Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Manager. I will show you how you can failover your Virtual environment from one datacenter to another or how you can failover your Virtual Machines to Microsoft Azure.


Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica

Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica updated

Back in 2013 Microsoft released a tool called Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica. Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner allowed IT Administrators to measure and plan their Replica integration based on the workload, storage, network, and server characteristics. Today Aashish Ramdas announced on the TechNet Virtualization blog that Microsoft has updated the Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner. The new version now support Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager and some other cool stuff based on the feedback of customers.

  • Support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 in a single tool
  • Support for Extended Replication
  • Support for virtual disks placed on NTFS, CSVFS, and SMB shares
  • Monitoring of multiple standalone hosts simultaneously
  • Improved performance and scale – up to 100 VMs in parallel
  • Replica site input is optional – for those still in the planning stage of a DR strategy
  • Report improvements – e.g.: reporting the peak utilization of resources also
  • Improved guidance in documentation
  • Improved workflow and user experience

It’s great to see Microsoft improving free tools which help implement their solutions.

Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) Overview

Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) FAQ

With the evolution of cloud computing, datacenter are getting more important, and having multiple datacenter for a site failover is more and more a must have solution. With Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Microsoft introduced a new feature called Hyper-V Replica, which allows you to do an asynchronous replication on a virtual machine level. If you are working in a lager environment you may not want to failover single machines with the Hyper-V Manager, you need a tool which orchestrates the Failover from one site to another site. There are several different options you could do this, like a PowerShell script, System Center Orchestrator or the new automation engine called Service Management Automation (SMA). All of these solutions can work with Hyper-V Replica but they all have some up and downsides.

Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) Overview

Microsoft developed a solution for this problem called Hyper-V Recover Manager which is basically a hosted orchestration engine in Windows Azure. You can simply connected your System Center Virtual Machine Manager servers to this service by installing an agent on the VMM servers. After that you can login to the Windows Azure Portal and configure the orchestration and recovery plans for your VMM Clouds. An important thing here, Windows Azure is only the orchestration engine, no data or VMs are replicated to Windows Azure. VMs will be replicated just between your sites.

Windows Azure Portal Hyper-V Recovery Manager

Still here are some things unclear about Hyper-V Recovery Manager, so here is a little FAQ, which should answer some of the questions:

Q: Can I fully automate my datacenter failover?
A: Yes, you can Failover your Virtual Machines extend the solution with Scripts.

Q: Can I Failover my Domain Controllers and SQL Servers first before failing over my application servers.
A: Yes, you can create your own order in which the failover should happen, by creating recovery plans.

Q: My secondary site has not the same network or subnet available, can I still use it?
A: Yes, Hyper-V Replica and Hyper-V Recovery Manager can change IP addresses of VMs during a failover. In a HRM scenario VMM IP Pools are used to automatically change IP addresses.

Q: Can I test my Recovery Plan?
A: Yes, as in Hyper-V Replica, you can also do a Test Failover.

Q: I have different Storage vendors, can I still use Hyper-V Recovery Manager
A: Yes, there is no dependency to the Storage

Q: I am using Storage Spaces and a Scale-Out Fileserver, does this work with HRM?
A: Yes, you can configure SMB shares for VM locations.

Q: Can’t have my Application data go to cloud
A: Application data never goes to Azure – it transmits encrypted over your own network link between two DCs.

Q: Both of my sites are managed with the same Virtual Machine Manager, does it still work?
A: Yes, it works with both single VMM and HA VMM environments.

Q: My Hosts and Applications don’t have internet connectivity
A: No, Windows Azure connectivity needed by Hyper-V Hosts and Applications. Only connectivity is from VMM Server to Azure Service which can be done by a proxy server.

Q: Do I need to install another agent on every Hyper-V host or Guest VM?
A: No, Disaster Recovery Provider is only needed on VMM Machine.

Q: My N Tier App is using SQL AlwaysON can I get single click App failover?
A: Yes, Hyper-V Recovery Manager failover plans can be customized with scripts, so you can also Failover SQL or other applications using PowerShell.

Q: In addition to Primary DC my ISP is also impacted, can I still failover?
A: Yes, During failover no dependency on Primary Site or Connectivity to Primary Site is needed.

Q: Service Providers want to use HRM but see Azure as competition with their own offering.
A: There is no need to share customer information with Windows Azure, Hoster’s customers never go to HRM Portal.

Q: Does Hyper-V Recovery Manager offer System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) integration?
A: Yes, ongoing replication health monitoring in SCOM

Q: I already have done some System Center Orchestrator Runbooks for failing over Applications, can I still use them?
A: Yes, You can trigger Orchestrator RunBooks from Hyper-V Recovery Manager via scripts.

Q: Does System Center Virtual Machine Manager have Hyper-V Replica support.
A: Yes, Hyper-V Replica has a rich integration with VMM which lights up when you register to Hyper-V Recovery Manager service. Following are key Hyper-V replica integration points with VMM

  • Ability to enable protection during Create VM Wizard
  • Ability to setup default protection for VMs through integration with VM Template
  • Ability to enable protection for already created VMs
  • VM Placement algorithm takes protection information (Cloud, Network) to select appropriate cloud and Host
  • Ability to view replication health from VMM console
  • Specific Icon and actions for Replica VMs
  • Connecting replica VMs to networks and assign IP addresses at scale using VMM networking (VM Networks)

Thanks to Vishal Mehrotra (Microsoft Principal Group Program Manager WSSC)

Feel free to add additional questions to the comment section.

Cloud as a Tier with Microsoft StorSimple

Microsoft StorSimple

Some weeks ago an awesome packet arrived at our office in Bern and I finally have time to write about the content.

Several months ago Microsoft acquired a company called StorSimple but there was no real buzz around this. But for me this is a huge step and shows in which direction the whole Cloud and Datacenter future will go.

StorSimple is one of the vendors which produced Cloud integrated Storage (CiS). Basically StorSimple is a hardware storage appliance with multiple storage tiers such as SSD or SAS disks and now also the Cloud which means Windows Azure.

As mentioned the box contains SSD and SAS disk which can be attached via iSCSI to your environment. ISCSI is not really the prefer option for me but I expect Microsoft to implement SMB 3.0 in the StorSimple box.

Primary Storage with SSD speed – The StorSimple box can be used as a primary storage with SSD speed. The box is certified for Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and VMware but at the moment the StorSimple is maybe not made for running virtual machines on it. I would say it’s a great solution to attach the storage to you SMB file server and use it to expand your storage to the cloud.

Automatic Archiving – Cold data can be moved to cheap storage in Windows Azure which can grow with your needs, while hot data is running on-premise on your SSD or SAS storage.

Backup & Restore – Files can be backed up and restored from the Cloud. Incremental, deduplicated snapshots reduce storage requirements by over 90%
while delivering instant snapshot and restore technology in minutes as opposed
to days. Cloud Snapshots offer offsite data protection via the cloud. It is now
simple and cost-effective to retain as many snapshots as you need – no more 30,
60 or 90 day limits.

Multi Location Disaster Recovery – If a disaster strikes and you lose your datacenter you can restore you StorSimple box to a new StorSimple box, on the same location or on another, directly from the Windows Azure Cloud.

Military-grade Security – All data stored in the cloud with StorSimple has military-grade encryption applied to it. The encryption key is never given to StorSimple or the cloud provider, ensuring complete data privacy to support compliance requirements as stringent as HIPAA.

Enterprise-class Storage
StorSimple solutions offer enterprise-class high-availability with fully redundant disk controllers, power supplies, network connections and no single point of failure. They also support non-disruptive software upgrades.

Application-optimized Storage and Data Protection – Application-optimized volumes for Windows file shares, SharePoint and VMware libraries. Full support for VSS application-consistent snapshots is provided.

If you want to know more about StorSimple check out the StorSimple website.

Hyper-V Replica – The Game Changer

Windows Server 2012 RC Logo

In Windows Server 2012 Microsoft introduced a new feature called Hyper-V Replica. In my opinion Hyper-V Replica is a true Game Changer, something like the forward pass in football or the slam dunk in basketball. In my interview with Carsten Rachfahl from hyper-v-server.de I mentioned that I think a lot of customer will choose Hyper-V Replica as Disaster Recovery solution.

What is Hyper-V Replica and how does it work?

What is Hyper-V Replica and how does it work. With Hyper-V Replica it is possible to replicate Hyper-V Virtual Machines from a Hyper-V host to another Hyper-V host or cluster. The great thing about it is that Hyper-V Replica is optimized for replication over WAN. This allows companies to replica Virtual Machines from a primary site to a secondary site, and in case of a disaster on the primary site, Virtual Machines can be failed over to the secondary site.

Hyper-V Replica

The replication is done per virtual machine, so you can also replicate VMs to two or more different locations.

Hyper-V Replica is an asynchronous replication, Hyper-V Replica will do a initial replication of the Virtual Machine and after that changes will be replicated every 5 to 10 minutes.

How to enable Hyper-V Replica on a single host

To allow the Hyper-V host to send and receive virtual machine replications you have to enable the Hyper-V Replica feature and configure the Windows Firewall. Hyper-V Replica can be enabled via Hyper-V Manager in the Hyper-V settings. You can setup different replication settings such as which hosts can replicate to this server or which port is used for the replication and whether HTTP or HTTPS should be used.

Enable Hyper-V Replica

After you have enabled Hyper-V Replica you have to open the Windows Firewall ports for Hyper-V Replica. You can simply enable the rules in the Windows Firewall settings.

Hyper-V Replica Windows Firewall

You can also enable this firewall rules via Windows PowerShell.

Enable-NetFirewallRule -DisplayName "Hyper-V Replica HTTP Listener (TCP-In)"

How to enable Hyper-V Replica on a Hyper-V Cluster

To allow the Hyper-V Cluster to send and receive virtual machine replications you have to enable the Hyper-V Replica Broker role in the Hyper-V Cluster and configure the Windows Firewall on each host. The Hyper-V Replica Broker role enables the failover cluster to participate in virtual machine replication with Hyper-V Replica. You cannot replicate to a single host which is used in a cluster, you can only replicate to the Hyper-V Replica Broker.

First the Hyper-V Replica Broker cluster role has to be added.

Enable Hyper-V Replica Broker roleThe Hyper-V Replica Broker needs a own IP in the same subnet as the cluster. The Name of the Replica Broker role will be used as target to replicate virtual machines.

Hyper-V Replica Broker role

This can of course also be done via Windows PowerShell.

$Broker = "ReplicaBroker"
Add-ClusterServerRole -Name $Broker –StaticAddress
Add-ClusterResource -Name “Virtual Machine Replication Broker” -Type "Virtual Machine Replication Broker" -Group $Broker
Add-ClusterResourceDependency “Virtual Machine Replication Broker” $Broker
Start-ClusterGroup $Broker

After you have added the Hyper-V Replica Broker role in the Cluster you have to enable Hyper-V Replica and set it up like the standalone Hyper-V host.

Hyper-V Replica Broker Cluster role

Hyper-V Replica Broker Cluster role settings

After you have configured the Hyper-V Replica Broker settings you also have to enable the Windows Firewall rules. This Windows PowerShell command will help you to configure the Firewall rule on every node in the cluster.

Get-ClusterNode | ForEach-Object {Invoke-Command -ComputerName $_.Name -ScriptBlock {Enable-NetFirewallRule -DisplayName "Hyper-V Replica HTTP Listener (TCP-In)"}}

How to enable virtual machine replication

After you have enabled Hyper-V Replica on the source Hyper-V host/cluster and destination Hyper-V host/cluster you can setup the virtual machine to replicate. Right click the virtual machine and “Enable Replication”.

Enable Hyper-V Virtual Machine Replication

Specify the Replica server name to use to replicate the virtual machine. If the Replica server is on a failover cluster, specify the name of the Hyper-V Replica Broker as the Replica server.

Enable Hyper-V Virtual Machine Replication Destination

You can specify the connection parameters and set up compression for the transmitted data.

Hyper-V Replica Connection Parameters You can choose which VHDs of the virtual machine should be replicated to the destination.

Hyper-V Replica VHDConfigure the Recovery History, this allows you to choose from different recovery points when you start a failover.

Hyper-V Replica recovery pointsConfigure the Initial Replication Method. You could also move the initial replication copy via external hard drive to the destination.

Hyper-V Replica initial replicationAfter you have started the replication, Hyper-V Replica will start with the initial replication of the virtual machine, and the virtual machine will also be visible on the destination Replica server.

Hyper-V Replica sending initial replication

To do this via Windows PowerShell you could use the following commands

$ReplicaServer = "ReplicaBroker.cloud.win"
$RecoveryPort = 80
$PrimaryVM1 = “SharePoint2013”
$PrimaryServer = "hyperv01.cloud.win
Set-VMReplication -VMName $PrimaryVM1 -ReplicaServerName $ReplicaServer -ReplicaServerPort $RecoveryPort -AuthenticationType Integrated -CompressionEnabled $true -RecoveryHistory 0
Start-VMInitialReplication –VMName $PrimaryVM1


Check Replication State and Replication Health

To check the Replication State and the Replication Health you have a variety of options.

First in the Hyper-V Manager you can see the Replication State of the virtual machine.

Hyper-V Replica replication state and healt Hyper-V Manager

You can also right click on the virtual machine and view the replication health, state and other interesting information.

Hyper-V Replica replication state and healt VM

You can also use Windows PowerShell to get information about the virtual machine replication state and health.


Hyper-V Replica replication state and healt PowerShell

Failover Options

Now after the replication is setup you have different failover options for the virtual machine. This options allow you to do different failover scenarios.

  • Planned Failover
  • Test Failover
  • Failover

Planned Failover

Hyper-V Replica Planned Failover

A Planned Failover is a solution if both sites are still available it is also possible to migrate the virtual machine from on datacenter to another datacenter. A planned failover basically shuts down the source virtual machines, replicates all the latest changes and after all changes are replicated to the recovery site the virtual machines on the recovery site will start with no loss of data.

The primary server will automatic change to the Replica server and the Replica server will change to the primary server.

Test Failover

If you want to test the virtual machine on the recovery site you can use this feature. This will create a copy of the virtual machine on the recovery site which can be used for testing without interrupting the replication. You can also set the copy of the virtual machine to connect to another virtual switch or to be not connected so no IP address conflict will happen.

Hyper-V Replica Test Failover


Hyper-V Replica Failover Recovery Point

The Failover option will be used on the recovery site during a disaster where the primary site is down. This will start the virtual machine on the recovery site and the administrator will have to choose the latest recovery point. Data between the disaster recovery and the latest recovery point will be lost.

$VM = Get-VM -Name "SharePoint2013"
Start-VMFailover -VM $VM

Hyper-V Replica Failover via PowerShell


There is also a possibility to inject another IP address configuration on the recovery site.

Hyper-V Replica inject Failover IP Address

After you have selected a Recovery Point for the Failover, the other Recovery points are still available as snapshots for this Virtual Machine. if the first Recovery Point is not working correctly you can choose another Recovery Point.

Hyper-V Replica Failover



Now a lot of disaster recovery solutions are easy to failover but how can you to a failback of your workload? In Hyper-V replica this is pretty easy. After a unplanned Failover the primary server is still the same and the virtual machine is now running on the recovery server. Now to failback a virtual machine with the latest data you reverse the replication so the primary server changes to the recovery server and the recovery server where the virtual machine is running after the failover will be the primary server. Now the virtual machine will be replicated in in the other way. To do failback of the virtual machine back without losing data you can now do a planned failover.

Hyper-V Replica Reverse Replication

$VM = Get-VM -Name "SharePoint2013"
Set-VMReplication -reverse -VMName $VM



I hope this post shows you how great Hyper-V Replica is and how easy to setup it is. If you have any question about Hyper-V Replica you should check out Microsoft TechNet or use the comment function on this post.