Given VMware’s stated direction of adopting the console-less ESXi architecture, many organizations are assessing the impact of an ESXi-based architecture on their data protection strategies, including backup, replication and recovery. When evaluating a data protection vendor, it is critically important to understand the architecture that is used to support the ESXi framework. While a few vendors support ESXi as a check box item, a poorly conceived architecture can result in limited scalability, significantly longer backup windows, and data vulnerable to loss and theft in the replication process.
Characteristics of A Poorly-Designed Replication Product for ESXi
As an example, the figure below shows the architecture of one poorly-designed replication product on the market today. This particular product uses its main server as the shared single engine for backup, replication and recovery. To operate, the product opens one session between the server and a VM on ESXi that is to be protected . It then utilizes VMware vStorage API (appropriately) to mount the snapshots of those VMs on the server engine itself. Finally, the product opens a corresponding new session - also using vStorage API (inappropriately) - between the server and the remote site to transfer the data.
Figure 1. Single-Threaded Protection Server Limits Usability, Scalability, Performance, and Increases Network Costs
This limited architecture suffers from the problems detailed below:
Vizioncore's Alternative: A Break-Through Virtual Appliance (VA)-Based Solution
Vizioncore is working on a new, ground-breaking architecture to avoid the pitfalls of the limited, single-threaded architecture which other vendors offer. Vizioncore's innovative architecture will take advantage of virtual appliance (VA) technology to backup, replicate and restore virtual machines on ESXi server platforms. The appliance is being designed to transfer data directly, similar to vRanger Pro’s unique Direct-to-Target architecture. Using VMware vStorage API’s advanced capabilities, the VA will natively access snapshots, enabling fast and efficient data transfer.
The VA -based architecture separates the management of protection jobs from the job engine itself. Management is still performed through a single engine server. But what is different, is that the job engine is located in one or more Virtual Machine appliances distributed throughout the environment. This distributed but centrally managed architecture offers inherent improvements in scalability, reliability, and manageability as compared to the single-threaded alternative.
Scaling this type of architecture is simple, by deploying as many virtual appliances as is needed to support the backup, replication and recovery jobs required - but without sacrificing manageability nor forcing over-provisioning of any single system. Because the vRanger server would not take part in actual backup or replication operation, this solution distributes the workload while still offering the benefits of centralized management. Because the workload is distributed, the central backup server would not be the single point of failure. This will help make the solution much more reliable than any that are available today.