Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is a growing area of investment for many companies; the DRaaS market will be worth $5.7 billion by 2018. IT professionals with experience implementing a business continuity plan are painstakingly aware that disaster recovery can be a very manual and complex workflow. Automation and orchestration can help simplify the experience, eliminate human error, minimize complexity, and reduce downtime. However, to achieve this promise, vendors must work together to ensure maximum interoperability between software and devices in the data center.
The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is a consortium of storage manufacturers and management software vendors actively contributing to the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) to ensure maximum interoperability. The Storage Management Initiative (SMI) is the set of working groups that define SMI-S. Management software vendors can manage any SMI-S–compliant storage devices in the data center using a consistent interface. Common tasks include discovering storage devices, configuring features, provisioning storage, monitoring health and operational status, and collecting performance information. With the latest version of SMI-S 1.6.1, management software can orchestrate failover of storage between two sites using synchronous or asynchronous replication.
Microsoft supports the latest version of SMI-S 1.6.1 for managing storage across many storage devices in the data center. Windows Server and System Center manage private cloud storage. Microsoft Azure Site Recovery (ASR) orchestrates storage replication failover for disaster recovery. The primary method for SCVMM to talk to external storage is using SMI-S, this is the industry default.
Consistent DR Experience
Management software that supports SMI-S–compliant devices can present a consistent experience across many devices without resorting to lowest-common-denominator capabilities. Storage manufacturers implement rich features in the devices and make them easy to manage using SMI-S. Management software can quickly identify the capabilities of each device using SMI-S and optimize the experience accordingly.
ASR is the latest Microsoft product that integrates with SMI-S–complaint devices to present a consistent experience for planned, unplanned, and test failovers of storage and workloads between sites. ASR and System Center experiences focus on enabling protection at the workload level, under the covers, while the storage is configured and replication is enabled using SMI-S.
Quality and Scale
Data centers with multiple storage devices more than likely use storage from multiple manufacturers and storage management products from multiple vendors. Although SMI-S ensures that the interfaces are well known, the quality of the interfaces must be tested. Members of SMI participate in multiple plugfests every year to test product functionality and scalability. Plug-fest attendees work side by side for a week in a lab to identify implementation issues and required updates to SMI-S and to work with companies new to SMI-S. Investing in plugfests ensures that customers receive the best quality product that works out of the box.
The SNIA SMI-S organization offers a comprehensive Conformance Testing Program (CTP) to test adherence to the protocol which offers independent verification of compliance that customers can view directly on the SNIA website. In Addition, Microsoft worked with multiple SMI members for over a year to integrate storage replication management into System Center and Azure Site Recovery for site-to-site workloads and storage, planned, unplanned, and test failover. Microsoft provided each storage manufacturer with test suites to exercise functionality, scale, and stress of the end-to-end solution.
Cost-Effective DR Solutions
The cost of implementing a disaster recovery plan includes building out a secondary data center. Customers that can afford this setup replicate storage between two sites so that workloads can fail over. With public and hosted clouds, the secondary site is provided by a different company. In this case, the local data center is primary. In both cases, by using SMI-S, the failover experience is consistent and works with all SMI-S 1.6.1–compliant storage devices.
Microsoft will demonstrate this exact scenario in Chicago at the Ignite Conference on May 4–May 8 using SMI-S–enabled storage devices. One of the advanced sessions will show how to mirror a virtual machine to a public cloud and replicate data drives to a cloud-adjacent storage device. This configuration enables DR without investing in a secondary data center with the added benefit of offering data sovereignty for applications that require it.
This session will include NetApp® storage front and center and will show how NetApp can provide Hyper-V DR to cloud scenarios that maintain data sovereignty and enable elastic cloud compute. Please catch Hector Linares’s presentations as well as Barry Shilmover’s presentations regarding ASR.
- “Data Center Transformation: Head into the Cloud While Keeping Your Feet on the Ground”
Barry Shilmover: Wednesday, May 6, 3:15–4:30 p.m.
- “Managing Storage with Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager: a Deep Dive”
Hector Linares: Friday, May 8, 9:00–10:15 a.m.
An SMI-S representative will also give a Channel 9 interview regarding the use of SMI-S as a foundational technology and its deep integration with System Center. This is more than just a win for SNIA and the SMI-S protocol; it’s a win for customers who demand a choice in storage vendors and infrastructure while ensuring advanced feature enablement through SMI-S interoperability.