On April 30th, EMC announced an update to their popular array-based replication technology RecoverPoint to software version 4.0 from 3.5 that will be released this coming week and I was able to get all of the details at an EMCWorld session. It is important to remember that RecoverPoint up until the new release was a hardware + software solution with the hardware version not always truing up to the software in name. The current version of the RecoverPoint hardware is referred to as Generation 5, but that is largely immaterial in that as long as your RecoverPoint appliances are refreshed periodically they will remain compatible with the current software code. But as you may have noticed I said “until the new release” because in the most evolutionary change yet for RecoverPoint, the RecoverPoint Appliance (RPA) is now available in a virtual format that can be easily deployed from an OVA. This new deployment option can be a cost effective option for some customers but it does come with some important caveats:
RecoverPoint was already one of EMC’s most advanced replication technologies and now it is available as a virtual appliance. Before we get into the details of the virtual edition lets first review the basic capabilities of this impressive technology. RecoverPoint already provided companies with several advanced features that traditional replication technologies do not. For example, in a single solution it offers both local and remote replication, and remote replication can be either synchronous or a-synchronous. Remote replication can also dynamically switch between synchronous and a-synchronous modes based on the change rate and available bandwidth. In addition to those impressive features, RecoverPoint provides more granular restore functionality than traditional array based replication through the use of its journal. The best comparison for this would be your DVR. DVR allows you to rewind to literally any point of the show you recorded. This is what RecoverPoint brings to your Data Center. As opposed to traditional replication methods which would be like only being able to chose chapters on a DVD for example.
RecoverPoint is EMC’s flagship replication product. It is a purpose-built combination of appliances and software that replicate block data between arrays. It boasts WAN-optimization and the ability to roll back and forward in time (think DVR) to present the replicated LUN as of almost the exact time that you wanted (invaluable in the case of corrupted data). It is a popular replication mechanism for users of VMware Site Recovery Manager. Fully integrated as a Storage Replication Adapter, RecoverPoint replicas can be controlled and mounted via SRM.
EMC VPLEX is a one of a kind solution that provides site resiliency and high availability for those that can’t afford any downtime. VPLEX itself installs in the network, in between hosts and storage, and can extend data over distance, within and between data centers. EMC refers to this technology as Federated Access Anywhere.
In the ‘Metro’ version, VPLEX front-ends an existing array (EMC/non-EMC) at two locations and provides the ability for both to have an active copy of a single set of data. This active-active model is facilitated by a something called cache coherency and provides a distributed virtual volume to which servers at both sites can connect. Stretched clusters anyone?
While both RecoverPoint and VPLEX are great technologies with specific advantages, storage admins have had to choose which one they wanted on a per LUN basis: For this dataset, do I want the high resiliency of VPLEX that allows me to vMotion over distance in the event of a site issue? Or, is the ability to roll that data back to a point in time more important? Up until now, it has been one or the other because these two technologies didn’t easy fit together. Thankfully that is now changing with the latest software versions of both VPLEX and RecoverPoint.
The combination of RecoverPoint 3.5 and GeoSynchrony 5.1 (VPLEX’s OS) now allows you to replicate a VPLEX volume the same way that we have been using RecoverPoint to replicate a LUN from a standalone array. The difference is the inclusion of a RecoverPoint write-splitter inside VPLEX - something that had been missing up until now.