Overview of vSphere Replication
vSphere Replication is a cost efficient way to efficiently replicating VMs from one or more source sites to a remote target site. You can set the RPO as low as 5 minutes. It works with vSAN as well as normal Datastores. If you want to take your replication to a higher level you can integrate it with VMware Site Recovery Manager. You can also compress the data you transfer through the networks to lower the amount of traffic passed through the network.
Licensing wise vSphere Replication is already licensed in some versions of vSphere (Essentials Plus, Standard, Enterprise, Enterprise Plus, and Desktop).
You can set up vSphere Replication in various ways.
- Source site -> Target site
- Single site, from one cluster to an other
- Multiple source sites to a shared remote site.
Why use vSphere Replication?
- It is a cheaper way to protect VM data.
- Lower overall cost per replication.
I decided to setup vSphere Replication and SRM between my two sites to check it out. I will be using 8.3.1 of both versions for this and using vSphere 6.7 u3 with the latest patches, available to the setup currently (End October 2020). You can see the version numbers here. In this post I will go through vSphere Replication. Because I want to use SRM also in my test I need two vCenters, at a later time (Read: Lab rebuild) I may chose to go with a single site setup.
First it is important to check out what actually is supported with the version of vSphere and checking the VMware Interoperability page it is really easy. Just go to the page and you can select products like below here and yo get a nice graphic one what is supported.
For 6.7u3 I should have no problems as you can see.
If you are using vSphere 7 u1 however you may see that there are some problems listed (note the little (i) sign inside the checkmark. (In this case it is that you need to use vSphere 7 u1a or later, so the first version of vSphere u1 had an issue identified with it.
Here is a direct link to the compatibility page: vSphere Replication and SRM compatibility
Next it is important to check the requirements to make things work once you install them. One key thing here I find is usually the network port requirements.
Apart from this there’s a few other things to keep in mind:
- You need one data center per site.
- One vSphere Replication appliances per vCenter server.
- Embedded vSphere replication server is limited to 200 protected VMs
- Each vCenter can only handle 2000 replications. Of these only 1000 can be in the same vCenter.
- Since vSphere Replication 8.3 there is only an option for embedded database. Also worth noting is that extra configuration is required to support 2000 replications.
- Only 20 VMs can be replicated at a time.
- You should never upgrade VMware tools on the vSphere Replication appliance.
- Although many features of vCenter and vSphere Replication appliances are compatible there are a couple which are not. The use of vCloud APIs, vCenter Chargeback, VMware Data Recovery and also vSphere FT is not supported.
Enable vSphere replication traffic either on an isolated (d)vSwitch or as I did now, enable it on the management Network (testing only)
Anyway, enough for now, lets get started with setting up vSphere replication.
On another note, in case you are interested, here is a link to the management pack for vRealize Operations Manager and the Replication Management Pack: