Let’s face it! We all have enough to worry about with our production environments! We’ve got servers, storage, switches, fabrics, subnets, hypervisors, cabling – ugh cabling! Anyways the point being is that having to worry about all of the complexity and components within our production data center is enough to drive any IT pro crazy – and yet we are still asked to magically duplicate all these worries in a secondary location for disaster recovery purposes – in the words of my 6yo “no fair”
Sure we’ve seen virtualization come along and make our lives easier – and in turn it’s made disaster recovery easier as well. Encapsulating our physical servers into a group of files and abstracting hardware, aka a VM has opened up so many doors for us to simply pick up and move that VM elsewhere. The problem with DR is that there is still so much more to consider – things like what do our networks look like in our secondary site, do our VMs get re-ip’d during a fail-over, and one of the most important aspects – when we fail-over how do we ever get back? Wouldn’t it just be nice to simply take the worries of disaster recovery right out of your business?
OneCloud is all it takes!
OneCloud Software took the stage at VFD5 in Boston this June and began their pitch at just how they can solve the disaster recovery complexities inside organizations today. Disaster Recovery is one of the biggest use-cases for cloud today – lately we have seen VMware make an entrance into the space, Veeam has given their partners the option to become a cloud service provider for their solutions, most disaster recovery solutions provide some sort of cloud-like integration. So how does OneCloud plan to enter into this market and what exactly can they bring to separate themselves and make them unique? Their stance – Hey, DR is complex, cloud is challenging – OneCloud can abstract away the complexities of both, turning the public cloud into a secure extension of your data center. In it’s basics, their first product OneCloud Recovery ties together your on premises VMware environment with Amazon AWS, and then replicates data as it changes, essentially duplicating your environment in Amazon.
So with that in mind let’s take a deeper look at just how OneCloud Recovery works…
First up is planning – as with any project, planning is a very important phase and OneCloud does not take this lightly. Their solution relies upon a lightweight tool they call OneCloud Software Insight. Insight is a tool that installs within your on premises VMware environment – from their it discovers and maps out your infrastructure, including your VMs, storage and network. It then determines what VMs are eligible for their DR solution, allows you to change policies applied, assigning greater or lesser RPO’s on a per-VM basis and uses that data to estimate costs within Amazon EC2. Another feature of Insight I found interesting is it also takes into account the amount of bandwidth required compared to the amount of bandwidth available in order to get your data into the cloud while still maintaining the SLA’s and RPO’s you have setup within the application – this is something that I’ve not seen in a lot of other assessment/cloud readiness type tools. At the end you are left with a very detailed cost breakdown of what your environment might cost to run in Amazon using OneCloud Recovery, taking into account all of the individual Amazon costs (EC2, S3, Glacier, etc) as well as the licensing costs of OneCloud Recovery. Honestly this tool by itself provides some unique value and data to a customer, even if they don’t plan to leverage OneCloud Recovery.
On to the magic..
With planning out of the way, purchase orders issued, and the trigger pulled OneCloud Recovery the magic can now begin – but it’s not magic, it’s tech – and this is how it all works…
First up is installation – OneCloud Recovery is installed by simply importing an ova into your existing vSphere environment and providing two credentials; your vSphere and AWS credentials/keys. So far so good eh? From there automation kicks in, your environment is discovered, mapped out and blueprinted and what they call the bootstrap process begins. This process first creates a virtual private cloud within Amazon, and then deploys a couple of appliances to both your on premises and Amazon environment. Firstly the management appliance is deployed which essentially allows you to manage your OneCloud Recovery environment, which can be done from either on premises or within Amazon AWS due to its configuration and data being replicated to both sites. Secondly we have worker appliances which are deployed at both ends – these are the heavy lifters of the solution which do all the moving and transfer of data, fail-over/fail-back, etc.. At then end of roughly 10 minutes or so, your complete virtual private cloud is built within Amazon and completely bridged to your on premises environment over a secure VPN tunnel that was established between the two sites – all automated!
Next we create our protection groups. A protection group is essentially a policy that defines certain SLA’s/RPO’s etc. Think of it in terms of a job that runs every 1 hour, every 2 hours, every 4 hours, etc. Then we simply drag and drop our VMs into their designated protection groups depending on the RPO we wish to assign to the particular application. And as you can see, the UI associated with OneCloud Recovery is very clean and looks like a joy to work with.
With our VMs now assigned to a protection group the technology kicks in to high gear. The protection process begins with our OneCloud Recovery worker first snapshotting the VM in order to free up it’s underlying disks. It then converts the data into their own format which is highly compressed and stores it locally on some tier 2/3 storage on-site, then finally replicating the data to AWS, obviously performing a full seed first and subsequently leveraging vSphere’s Change Block Tracking from that point forward.
As far as fail-over options like many others OneCloud Recovery provides both test and live options to fail-over. They do however offer a bit of uniqueness in this process. We all know that compute in the cloud costs money right? Imagine if we had an 8 vCPU, 32GB RAM production VM replicated into AWS – do you think we really need all that compute and memory during a fail-over test? Probably not! OneCloud Recovery recognizes this and allows you power on your VMs inside of AWS in an undersized fashion! I mean, that 8CPU/32GB RAM VM may function fine with 2vCPU/16GB of RAM with no load during a test, thus saving your money!
When it’s time to fail-over for real OneCloud Recovery also has some unique features! While most disaster recovery solutions halt their protection during a fail-over action, OneCloud Recovery actually continues to provide you with options to protect your VMs, even while they are running in AWS. They do so by leveraging Amazon EBS snapshots and protecting the data within your AWS region.
As far as fail-back is concerned OneCloud Recovery has some unique features as well. When a primary data center comes back on line, OneCloud Recovery is able to determine if at all any existing data is still intact. If it is, OneCloud Recovery can perform it’s fail-back in a delta fashion, moving only those changes that were made in AWS during the fail-over back to your primary data center, rather than having to extract entire VMs out of AWS which could be both costly and more importantly time consuming.
More to come from OneCloud?
In terms of OneCloud Recovery we are looking at a 1.0 product meaning there is a lot of development left to be done on the solution. My personal requests – I’d love to see the software get a little more aggressive and customized in terms of it’s RPO’s. Currently RPO’s are set in stone at 1,2,4,8,12,24 hours. Aggressively I’d like to see some smaller numbers here – 1 hour of lost data could equate to quite a lot of money to a lot of enterprises. Also I’d love to see some integration into more clouds other than just Amazon – think Google for example as there could potentially be some cost savings for customers there.
Looking at OneCloud Software as a company however I don’t think that OneCloud Recovery is going to be their only product. They have a solid core technology that maps, discovers, and blueprints our on premises environments, then duplicates that to Amazon. I don’t see this only being used for Disaster Recovery. I had a chat with Marc Crespi, CEO and Co-Founder from OneCloud and brushed this past him – in which he didn’t confirm or deny any of it – but if I had to guess I can definitely see them exploring other areas in the future – think DevOps, Migrations, Hybrid Cloud, etc. All areas that OneCloud Software’s core blueprint technology may be a good fit for. But, this is all speculation on my part – but still watch these guys – they are on to something…
If you are looking for more info around OneCloud Recovery I definitely recommend checking out some of the other great community posts resulting from VFD5
- OneCloud to Rule Them All – Eric Shanks
- Why build two when you can have OneCloud – Justin Paul
- Failing to the Cloud – and Back! – Chris Marget
- #VFD5 in Boston – OneCloud Software – James Green
OneCloud mentioned that they waited to go to market with OneCloud Recovery until they have met three internal requirements – it must be simple, it must be cost optimized and it must be a complete solution. Honestly I think they have accomplished those goals with OneCloud Recovery. The automation that has been built into the product, coupled with a very clean UI takes the cake in terms of simplicity – less knobs to turn = more simplicity! Cost Optimization, well, the insight tool definitely gives you a great understanding of all the costs involved in using OneCloud Recovery, even taking into account that they can down-size VMs when running in Amazon. And as for a complete solution they have for sure achieved what they set out to do – establish public cloud as an extension of your data center for disaster recovery purposes.