You may be running you critical applications in a virtual datacenter protected with VMware vSphere High Availability today, but are you making good use of all the other VMware features that are available to protect your applications?
You may want to take a few moments to review these features, some of which may not cost you any additional software licensing fees, and decide if any of these may be useful to help you comply with your Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Application Protection: Feature = vSphere App HA – monitors specific software application services that run in your virtual machines via custom VMware Tools heartbeats, identifies service failures, and restarts services as needed. If the service restart is unsuccessful, then it could restart the virtual machine.
Guest OS Protection: Feature = vSphere High Availability – monitors Guest OS via VMware Tools heartbeats, identifies guest OS failures, and restarts the virtual machine as needed.
Host Protection: Feature = vSphere High Availability (HA) – monitors ESXi hosts via vmkernel network and datastore heartbeats, identifies host failures, cold migrates all the failed virtual machines from the failed host to surviving hosts, and restarts the migrated virtual machines.
Host Protection: Feature = vSphere Fault Tolerance – monitors ESXi hosts via vmkernel network and datastore heartbeats, identifies host failures, and hot-migrates a few pre-designated virtual machines (up to 4 per failed host) to surviving hosts with no interruption to the virtual machines. All other virtual machines on the failed host could be recovered with vSphere High Availability
Scheduled Host Maintenance Protection: Feature = vMotion – allows all of the virtual machines on an ESXi host that is due for maintenance, such as ESXi or firmware upgrades, to be hot-migrated to other hosts prior to host shut down. Enables host maintenance with no virtual machine disruption.
Orchestration of Scheduled Host Maintenance: Feature = vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) – provides an option to place a host in Maintenance Mode, which automatically uses vMotion to migrate the virtual machines to other hosts while balancing the workload to prepare a host for schedule maintenance.
Scheduled Datastore Maintenance Protection: Feature = Storage vMotion – allows all of the virtual machines on a VMFS datastore to be hot-migrated to other datastores prior to the beginning of a maintenance activity. Such activities could include, migrating virtual machines to a new storage array, migrating virtual machines from an iSCSI array to a Fiber Channel array, upgrading VMFS versions, resizing datastores, and changing the LUN characteristics. Enables datastore maintenance with no virtual machine disruption.
Orchestration of Scheduled Datastore Maintenance: Feature = vSphere Storage DRS – provides an option to place a datastore in Maintenance Mode, which automatically uses Storage vMotion to migrate the virtual machines to other datastores while balancing the workload to prepare a datastore for schedule maintenance.
Virtual Machine Recovery: Feature = VMware Data Protection (VDP) – provides the ability to backup and restore files within virtual machines and to backup and restore entire virtual machines.
Data Replication: Feature = vSphere Replication – provides the ability to replicate virtual machines from one location to another. This could be useful to provide centralized protection for virtual machines that run at remote sites. This cold also be useful as a component for a disaster recovery (DR) solution.
Disaster Recovery: Feature = VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) = automates the recovery of the virtual machines that failed during the disaster of a virtual datatcenter. The virtual machines are recovered to a recovery site, where another instance of vSphere is available.
Storage Protection: Feature = VMware Virtual SAN: provides the ability to pool all of the storage installed locally in all of the ESXi hosts and convert it to a virtual storage system that provides high levels of redundancy and performance, much like a traditional SAN. It meets the storage requirements for vMotion, DRS, and HA, without the need for traditional SAN components, such as fiber channel storage adapters, fiber channel switches, storage controllers, and storage arrays. It provides redundancy, with no virtual machine interruption, in cases that include failed local drives and failed ESXi hosts.
To visualize all of this as levels (floors) of protection, see this VMware Blog.