Friday, May 8, 2015

Recoverpoint for VMs - Pre-Flight Checklist

As I've worked with customers deploying Recoverpoint for VMs pilots in their environment I've put together a small "pre-flight" checklist to help people jumpstart their deployment. Several customers got stalled in the process, not because the product is difficult to install, but because they weren't aware of all of the IP address requirements and needed to go back to the network team.

If you aren't aware Recoverpoint for Virtual Machines is a storage agnostic version of EMC's Recoverpoint. Recoverpoint provides the ability to rewind a system to a specific point in time, as well as remote replication of the changes. Both Recoverpoint (for storage arrays) and Recoverpoint for VMs leverage a journal volume for all writes to provide this point in time recovery ability.

The key difference between Recoverpoint for VMs and the array based products is the location of the write splitter. In the array based product writes are split to the journal volume in the array, meaning than individual LUNs become the level of granularity. With Recoverpoint for VMs writes are split to the journal volume in the ESXi host, meaning that granularity is moved all the way to the VM level. This level of granularity allows you to replicate some VMs on a datastore without having to replicate all, and by the way it is completely storage agnostic working on any array or even local disk.

Did I mention it's even free? Recoverpoint for VMs can be freely downloaded from EMC, and all features used without time limits. Test to your hearts content, then buy support if you want to take it into production.

You can download Recoverpoint for VMs here.

Dive into deployment architectures and the pre-flight checklist after the break.

The basic components of Recoverpoint for VMs are :

  • Recoverpoint Appliance (Virtual Machine)
  • Splitter (provided as .vib, installed on each host)
  • iSCSI VMkernel interfaces

For a typical two site Recoverpoint for VMs pilot the logical design typically looks like this :

Each site has an ESXi cluster with two hosts. Recoverpoint for VMs is deployed in clusters as well, with the minimum cluster size being two Recoverpoint for VMs appliance. To support this architecture we would deploy two RP4VMs appliance to each site. 

Recoverpoint for VMs Pre-Flight Checklist

The biggest sticking point larger customers have run into is making sure they have all of the IP addresses available before starting the deployment. Having to go back to the network team for more IPs can slow the process down. For a pilot with two ESXi hosts at each site, and two recover point appliances per cluster, here are the IPs required before starting. 

A vSphere Administrator account is required for the installation of the RP4VMs plugin. Root credentials for all hosts is required to install the RP4MVs Splitter VIB.


To install the RecoverPoint for VMs system, install the RecoverPoint for VMs splitter on each ESXi host in the ESXi cluster, configure Software iSCSI Adapters on every ESXi host, and deploy vRPAs using OVA.

A persistent scratch storage location is required on all ESXi hosts.

A windows system with Java 1.7 is required to complete the installation of the RP4VMs cluster.

Install the RP4VMs Splitter

1. The RP4VMs splitter is delivered as a VIB file. It needs to be installed on each host in the cluster, and the host is required to be in maintenance mode.

 2. Set the acceptance level of the host to community supported. 
esxcli software acceptance set --level=CommunitySupported

 3. Install the VIB file :
esxcli software vib install -v /path/<vib name>

The following message appears if installation is successful:
The update completed successfully, but the system needs to be
rebooted for the changes to be effective.
Reboot Required: true
VIBs Installed:
EMC_Recoverpoint_bootbank_RP-Splitter_RPS-<version number>
VIBs Removed:
VIBs Skipped:

 5. Reboot the ESXi server.

9. Repeat the entire procedure for every ESXi server in the cluster.

Configure Software iSCSI Adapters

1. Set up two VMkernel ports on each ESX host. Assign IP addresses that are on on the same subnet as the vRPA iSCSI interfaces that will be assigned when deploying the vRPA cluster.

2. At the vSphere Web Client, in Inventory, select Hosts and Clusters. Select an ESXi
server (host), click the Manage tab > Storage > Storage Adapters and create a software iSCSI adapter. Add the vmkernel ports to the network configuration under the iSCSI Software Adapter.

3. Click Add and confirm that you want to add the iSCSI software adapter.
The software iSCSI adapter appears in the list of storage adapters.

4. Verify that the Port Group Policy for every VMkernel you created is Compliant  and that at least one of them is Active .

Deploy vRPAs

vRPAs are deployed from OVF templates. In this pilot two vRPA clusters will be created, with two appliances per cluster. The process of deploying the vRPA appliance is straightforward, and during the deployment process you need to enter the LAN IP of the vRPA. The process will need to be repeated until two appliances have been deployed at each site for our POC architecture. 

Complete Deployment

Your environment is now ready to deploy RP4VMs in a POC. Using the recover point management console you will join the vRPAs into clusters, and register the clusters with the vCenter. Follow the documentation included in the Installation Guide included with the download to complete the process. 


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