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:
vRPA connectivity to the array is via iSCSI, not Fibre Channel as with the traditional hardware appliances. This is not a limitation of the EMC solution but rather a requirement dictated by vSphere FC storage connectivity. During deployment the vRPA sets up an in-guest iSCSI adapter for the connectivity back to the array and automatically configures the initiators for connectivity. With this requirement the vRPA will not be supported on the VNX5100 since it is an FC only array and any 5300 or higher would obviously need an iSCSI front-end adapter installed.
Protected hosts can use FC, FCoE, or iSCSI
vRPAs can be paired with vRPAs on the other side or with physical RPAs
The vRPA requires a minimum of two vSphere 5.x hosts in a cluster
Another big enhancement to RecoverPoint via the 4.0 release is the ability to build fan-in and fan-out replication relationships via single clusters. We have a large customer with a multi-site data center architecture with three sites replicating back to a single VNX array at a designated “DR” data center via RecoverPoint. Up until 4.0, this topology was supported only via deployment of multiple independent hardware clusters that increased complexity and cost. Now this deployment can be supported by a single cluster at the “DR” site, and vise-versa with fan out an array could be set to replicate to multiple outbound locations.
And finally the arrival of RecoverPoint 4.0 introduces a big enhancement for SRM deployments. With an update to the EMC VSI Plugin, you can now select any point in time restore point that is available versus the previous limitation of only being able to select the latest point in time restore point. I believe this is an industry first for EMC. It is important to remember that SRM is still limited to two sites even when the RecoverPoint configuration is in multisite mode.
Technology moves on, so while there are great new features in 4.0, some things will inevitably be left behind. RecoverPoint 4.0 will not be supported on Generation 3 RPA hardware and support for fabric-based write splitters will be dropped as well. I have not seen any customers using fabric based splitters so I expect that impact to be small.