We are all on the road to virtualization, that’s no secret. Some organizations are already 100% virtualized, others nowhere near that. This post is for those that are still on their way.
The journey toward virtualization begins with taking the physical systems you have today and converting them to virtual machines. The market is crowded with tools to help you with this task, but I think NetApp Syncsort Integrated Backup (NSB) offers some interesting differences, which we announced today in a press release.
To start, NSB is not simply a physical-to-virtual (P2V) tool. It’s a fully fledged data protection product that also happens to provide P2V functionality (at no additional cost). So the NSB migration process begins with backups of your physical systems. This provides an immediate benefit of allowing you to test a migration before you actually migrate the application, because you run it off the backup copy. If you’re concerned about performance, you can keep your physical app up and running at the same time that you create a new virtual machine of that app, which you can then put through its paces to make sure it meets your performance objectives. This gives you time to tweak the system to understand the optimal configuration settings.
Once that’s done, the really cool part comes into play. It’s time to finally migrate that application for good. How long will it take? The obvious answer is “it depends on how much data you have to migrate.” To get a sense of how long it was taking users, Syncsort commissioned eWEEK to survey over 100 users who had performed P2V migrations and the median response was 5 to 7 hours to migrate a system, with over 30% of users saying it takes over 11 hours. That’s a significant amount of time for an application to be offline (not to mention it may translate into a lot of weekends at work).
But with NSB leveraging the magic of NetApp snapshots, that migration time can be as little as ten minutes. How does that happen? This process works like this. First, you shut down the physical application and run a final backup (since this is a block-level incremental backup, it should only take a few minutes). Then you start the migration process. You can have this pre-configured as a “job” so there is no setup time. You just hit the “go” button.
NSB talks to your VMware environment to create the new virtual machine based on characteristics you’ve entered. That final backup image is then made accessible as a NetApp Flexclone image, which gets mapped to your VMware environment. The new VM now boots off the clone. This entire process takes about ten minutes, with some natural variation based on network and system performance.
The application boots up and you are back in business. But you haven’t actually migrated the system yet! This takes place in the background. While the VM is running off the clone, data is transferred to a designated data store and a new VMDK file created. When that is completed, the VMware Storage vMotion process is invoked to switch from the clone to the newly created data store. This happens without any need for application downtime.
The bottom line is that NSB lets you complete your P2V migrations with minimal downtime and maximum assurance (because you can test the migration before you migrate). Further, if it does turn out that a particular application just isn’t working out as a virtual machine, NSB gives you an easy way to move it back to a physical machine.
If you’d like to see some of this in action, you can view the video here and more details are also available in a solution sheet. Still have questions? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to get you a timely response.