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VMware Virtual Machine

VMware environment
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The use of virtual servers to host business critical applications is expanding rapidly as IT organizations experience significant cost savings and optimize resource utilization through virtualization supported server consolidation. It is not well understood, however, that the use of virtualization technologies can decrease the availability of applications and services. The need for integrating an automated high availability clustering solution to monitor and protect the virtual servers becomes evident when the increased risk of failure is understood.

The potential for application failure is increased due to two factors. First, virtualization increases the scope of failures as more applications and services are at risk given the failure of a single physical machine. If this consolidated server should suffer an outage, multiple applications and business services will be unavailable. Second, the primary causes of application outage are software related; the more complex the software stack being used by an application, the higher the risk of failure. The deployment of a virtualization layer increases software stack complexity and increases the risk of application outages.

The VMware ESX Server Console OS is such a virtualization layer and provides a complete operating system running directly on the host machine physical hardware. From the resources of the host machine, the virtualization layer creates a pool of logical computing resources and allocates those resources to one or more virtual machines in which a standard operating system can run.

LifeKeeper brings a complete high availability solution to virtual environments with fast and automatic failure event detection and recovery, comprehensive monitoring and recovery for individual applications and services and tremendous flexibility in building failover configurations from a mixture of physical and virtual machines, and either shared storage or data replication.

LifeKeeper offers two approaches to High Availability when used with VMware ESX Server. LifeKeeper can run within a virtual machine and LifeKeeper for Linux VMware Virtual Machine Recovery Kit allows LifeKeeper to run within the VMware Console Operating System.

LifeKeeper running within a virtual machine

The easiest and most flexible means of combining high availability clustering and virtualization is to run LifeKeeper within each virtual machine-just as in a physical system. This is possible if the OS running in the VM is Linux or Windows.
LifeKeeper operates in VMware ESX Server virtual machines using the same cluster and storage configurations as it would on standalone physical systems. In this configuration, LifeKeeper provides management of individual applications and compute resources residing within the virtual machine. LifeKeeper supports virtual-tovirtual, physical-to-virtual, and virtual-to-physical types of failover configurations with a nearly limitless range of more complex configurations built upon these simple building blocks, including failover configurations possible only with the combination of LifeKeeper and virtualization.

2-node cluster with LifeKeeper running within a virtual machine
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The example shows a 2-node cluster configuration, in which LifeKeeper is running in each virtual machine to manage individual applications and resources. In the event of a failure or a manual switchover request from an administrator, LifeKeeper can move applications between virtual machines, even to virtual machines hosted by a different physical system.

 

LifeKeeper running in the Console OS

As an alternative the LifeKeeper VMware Virtual Machine Recovery Kit (VMware ARK) is designed to allow LifeKeeper, when running within the VMware Virtual MachineServer Console OS, to manage individual virtual machines as protected resources, regardless of what guest operating system (Linux or Windows) is running inside the virtual machine.

The recovery kit allows LifeKeeper to represent individual virtual machines as LifeKeeper resources, with the normal LifeKeeper capabilities, including monitoring, local recovery, failover, and switchover. The kit does not provide any capability for managing individual applications and resources running inside the virtual machine. To achieve that level of high availability management in a VMware environment, the solution of running LifeKeeper inside the individual virtual machines should be used instead.

2-node cluster with LifeKeeper running in the Console OS
Click to enlarge the image

The example shows a 2-node cluster configuration, in which LifeKeeper is running in the Console OS on both of the physical machines. The VMware ARK is being used to allow LifeKeeper to manage and protect each of the active virtual machines. In the event of a failure or a manual switchover request from an administrator, LifeKeeper can move either of the virtual machines to the other physical system.

Key Features

  • support for 32 Bit Intel and 64 Bit POWER5-, Opteron- and EM64T-based hardware platforms
  • support for VMware ESX Server 3.0
  • support for VMware Server 1.0 on Linux Host OS
  • Automated monitoring and recovery for physical systems, virtual machines and applications running within virtual machines
  • Virtual-to-virtual, virtual-to-physical and physical-to-virtual failover configuration support
  • Easily configurable via JAVA-based GUI

Functions

  • automated monitoring of physical systems, virtual machines and applications in virtual machines
  • LifeKeeper running within a virtual machine:
    • Nearly identical to LifeKeeper in a physical machine
    • LifeKeeper management of individual applications and resources within the virtual machine
    • Virtual to Virtual and Virtual to Physical failover configurations
    • Supports SCSI and FC shared storage, NAS, and data replication
  • LifeKeeper running within the console OS:
    • Failover for entire virtual machine, regardless of operating system
    • Management of Virtual Machine status through LifeKeeper GUI
    • Treat virtual machines as LifeKeeper protected resources
    • Management of Virtual Machine status through LifeKeeper GUI

Support

  • SteelEye Competence and Support Center, 7 x 24h support.
  • Response time of less than 2 hours for business critical cases.
  • Included software maintenance

Professional Services

  • Business Continuity Assessment
  • Business Continuity Design
  • LifeKeeper Configuration Validation
  • LifeKeeper Installation
  • LifeKeeper Training

additional information:

LifeKeeper Protection Suite for VMware

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