Replicating to vCloud Air DR

Can you choose which disks are replicating to vCloud Air DR? I don't know.
The truth is, I just don’t know. Yet.

I was asked an interesting question last week which I’ve yet to get an answer on: Can users choose which disks are replicating to vCloud Air DR? Sometimes there are entire disks worth of data that aren’t core to the job of the workload in a DR situation. Not only could a customer potentially save money by not paying for unneeded storage, it’s operationally better to not replicate data that wouldn’t be used or missed in a DR situation. Like what? Well, installation package downloads, non-critical ISOs, data extractions which could be re-created from other replicated data, etc. In fact, if customers know this is a possibility, they might create a disk specifically for all the info that they don’t care to have replicated for DR. So is it possible?

Update: No. You have to replicate all disks associated with the guest (details at the bottom) 

Quick Background

When vCloud Air was first released, the number one question we in the channel were asked was, “Can we use it for Disaster Recovery?”

The answer at first was, “Probably not in the way you’re asking for.” The APIs normally exposed via vCenter Server were hidden in favor of vCloud APIs. This is actually pretty standard in multi-tenant vCloud deployments; Access to vCenter is generally hidden away. vSphere Replication is one of the data services normally coordinated through the APIs handled by vCenter, so no joy on using VMware’s Hybrid Cloud as a DR target. In theory, one could have set up manual shipping of updated workloads via vCloud Connector, but that would have been tedious and manual. Automate with vRealize Automation (at the time vCloud Automation Center)? Possibly. Running workloads with application-level clustering? Definitely, the application supports it. Not all of them do.

Fortunately we didn’t have to figure all that out. In April 2014, VMware announce the DR version of vCloud Air (at the time, still branded vCloud Hybrid Service). The API for vSphere Replication was exposed, and an update version of the appliance allowed users to replicate out to cloud services.

Replicating to vCloud Air DR

The question is, can users select which disks are to replicating to vCloud Air DR? I’m still unclear about that. If you read the vSphere Replication documentation (vSphere 5.5), you’ll see the following:

If you select Advanced disk configuration, you can configure the virtual machine’s individual disks one at a time.
For each disk you can select its virtual format, storage policy, and specify a datastore where it is replicated. Disable replication of the disk by deselecting Enable disk replication.

But if you look at the demo Chris Colotti does at launch, that capability isn’t present in the GUI when replicating to a cloud provider.

But that doesn’t mean we were being shown the final release code of the updated vSphere Replication appliance. Or that it hasn’t been enhanced further since the video was made (though I haven’t seen that in any of the updated release notes). So I’m asking all of you whether you’ve seen this feature in the newest UI. Choosing the disks that are replicating to vCloud Air DR doesn’t seem like a huge stretch feature. Do you have a screenshot of the latest UI? Later videos I haven’t found? A blog post showing the feature? I’d love to see it.


I reached out via Twitter to Chris Colotti and Wade Holmes. Chris didn’t think it was an option, but pinged David Hill, who confirmed no joy: You have to replicate all disks. Darn. Well, at least I know now.

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John White is walking the path to virtualization mastery.

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