Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question about the AssureStor dr2cloud platform? Check the frequently asked questions below to see if we have the answer for you.
Until recently, cloud-based disaster recovery solutions have been ineffective, complex and cost-prohibitive. Due to limitations with legacy array-based replication, cloud services were once required to have exactly the same storage type as their customers, increasing their overall costs. Further driving up cost was the complexity of managing cloud-based DR offerings, which were inflexible, labour-intensive and difficult to scale.
The dr2cloud platform resolves these issues with technologies such as hypervisor-based replication and integrated orchestration from the dr2cloud Virtual service and localBoot and cloudBoot capabilities from the dr2cloud SMB service. This provides end-users with tight SLAs and assurance, whilst still offering a cost-effective solution for their disaster recovery plan needs.
The dr2cloud platform, powered by Zerto and Infrascale, delivers a secure, cloud-based disaster recovery platform for your mission critical servers, applications and data.
Connectivity to the platform is provided over highly secure encrypted tunnels or through dedicated, point-to-point Ethernet circuits.
Each dr2cloud customer also has a secure virtual data centre provisioned in which to store their replicated data. This is based on VMware vCloud Director technology, ensuring that resources and access are isolated for your organisation only on our cloud platform.
And with our use of leading Tier III+ UK data centre locations, along with our own ISO 27001 certification, we ensure that security best practices are used in all elements of the dr2cloud service.
Unlike other solutions, the dr2cloud billing model is simple and straightforward.
For the dr2cloud Virtual platform we bill based on the number of virtual machines protected and the amount of used (not provisioned) data stored within the platform.
For the dr2cloud SMB platform you pay an up-front fee for a suitable appliance and then a monthly fee for the amount of data stored within the platform (in Terabyte chunks).
The service charges include as standard full support, access to the 24/7 DR Invocation line, regular failover tests, and production run-time in the event of a live failover event.
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The dr2cloud Virtual platform, power by Zerto, introduces a virtual-aware, software-based, tier one, enterprise-class replication solution purpose-built for virtual environments.
At the heart of this patent-pending replication technology are two key components:-
- Zerto Virtual Manager (ZVM) — The ZVM plugs directly into the virtual management console (such as VMWare’s vCenter or Microsoft’s System Centre), enabling visibility into the entire infrastructure. ZVM is the nerve centre of the solution, managing replication for the entire vSphere or Hyper-V domain, keeping track of applications and in-motion information in real time.
- Virtual Replication Appliance (VRA) — VRA is a software module that is automatically deployed on the physical hosts. VRA continuously replicates data from user-selected virtual machines, compressing and sending that data to the remote site over WAN links.
Because it is installed directly inside the virtual infrastructure (as opposed to on individual machines), VRA is able to tap into a virtual machine’s IO stream. Therefore, each time the virtual machine writes to its virtual disks, the write command is captured, cloned, and sent to the recovery site.
Unlike many replication technologies, which primarily offer data protection along with cumbersome snapshots and backup paradigms, Zerto’s solution provides continuous replication with zero impact on application performance.
Hypervisor-based replication is fully agnostic to storage source and destination, natively supporting all storage platforms and the full breadth of capabilities made possible by virtualisation, including high availability, clustering, and the ability to locate and replicate volumes in motion.
We support two methods of connectivity:-
- Using your existing Internet connectivity, combined with one of our AssureBridge security appliances.The AssureBridge device, a small form-factor 1U rack-mount device, provides highly secure connectivity from your site/s to our dr2cloud Virtual platform.
All data is protected in-flight using AES-256 encryption with 2048-bit SSL certificates for the highest level of protection. The devices are rated to support up to 100Mbps of encrypted data and add less than 2ms of latency. This ensures that uninterrupted, high speed communication is available to your recovery site in our cloud.
- Using a dedicated Ethernet point-to-point circuit.For customers who need more than 100Mbps connections to the dr2cloud Virtual platform, or for enhanced security, the dr2cloud platform supports direct Ethernet connectivity through our communication partners euNetworks or Level3. The combination of these carriers allows the dr2cloud platform to offer cost-effective, high speed connectivity options to the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
Once it has completed its initial full synchronisation, dr2cloud Virtual only needs to transmit the changes in your data. With support for seeding data using suitable NAS-based storage, we can avoid long delays during the initial setup phase if you have limited bandwidth.
The platform requires a minimum of 5Mbps bandwidth for replication, but this will vary based on the throughput of data written to the protected virtual machines.
The dr2cloud Virtual platform uses the maximum bandwidth available, along with optimisation and internal compression to maintain low RPOs. Each virtual protection group (virtual machine) can be configured with a priority, ensuring that higher value virtual machines are given more bandwidth if the connection to the dr2cloud platform becomes saturated.
For sites where the bandwidth being used is shared (for example, a shared Internet circuit), the local Zerto software can also be configured with bandwidth throttling rules, allowing you to limit the available bandwidth for replication.
If the WAN link becomes saturated, disconnected, or the data change rate is too high to maintain continuous replication, the Zerto Virtual Replication software enters a bitmap sync mode. In this mode, the Virtual Replication Appliance (VRA) memory stores an index of which blocks have changed. When the condition causing the bitmap sync is resolved, the bitmap changes are read from the source disk and replicated, and continuous replication resumes.
For longer disconnections from the dr2cloud platform, or when a VRA is rebooted with protected VMs running, the Zerto software will start a delta sync. In this case, the source and target virtual disks are compared, changes in the protected site are replicated to the recovery site, and continuous protection resumes.
Unlike many other DR and replication products, the dr2cloud Virtual platform does not rely on snapshots or point-in-time copies that operate on a schedule, instead we replicate your protected virtual machines continuously. This has some obvious advantages when compared to traditional snapshot-based solutions by removing processes such as:-
- Waiting for the scheduled replication time.
- Waiting for the built-up queue of data changes to replicate.
- Waiting for the snapshot to be released (which risks impacting the production system and affecting end-users).
dr2cloud Virtual cleverly uses the asynchronous replication framework of Continuous Data Protection (CDP) at the hypervisor level, not the storage level, to capture the data before it is even written to the storage layer. This is in order for the RPO to be the as close to zero as possible. The platform then replicates data as it passes through the hypervisor to our secure cloud-based platform, almost simultaneously as it is being written to the primary site’s storage. The dr2cloud Virtual platform provides the most aggressive RPOs in the market today.
It is not unusual to have a 10 second RPO with the dr2cloud Virtual platform in real production deployments!
The dr2cloud Virtual platform includes journal-based protection, delivering recovery points in increments to the second at any point in time up to 14 days in the past. This means that the dr2cloud Virtual service doesn’t just protect against data centre-wide issues such as hardware failures, power issues or natural disasters: it also protects against logical failures such as database corruptions, viruses, faulty application upgrades and user errors.
Rewinding entire multi-VM applications to previous points in time is as simple as selecting the checkpoint in the journal, which maintains the write-order fidelity of all of the changes in the protected VM and supports application consistency for any application.
The dr2cloud Virtual platform allows for any size of virtual machine to be recovered in under five minutes. Unlike recovering from backup, which requires you to restore your virtual machine first, the dr2cloud Virtual platform keeps every protected virtual machine in a ‘ready-to-run’ state, allowing for rapid recovery.
Recovery is completed in three simple stages:-
- Select the virtual machines you wish to recover.
You can recover a single virtual machine or a group of virtual machines (VMs). When recovering more than one VM, consideration should be paid to the boot-up sequence (for example, ensuring that a database server is recovered before its partner application server).
- Confirm the recovery point to recovery from.
The dr2cloud Virtual platform includes journal based protection, delivering recovery points in increments to the second at any point in time up to 14 days in the past.
- If applicable, configure reverse replication and/or pre/post scripts for recovery.
In a live recovery situation, if the source virtualisation platform remains available (for example in the event of a single VM failure) the dr2cloud Virtual platform can automatically reverse replication so that, once recovered, the now cloud-based VM is replicated back to your site in the background, ready for failback. In addition, pre and post failover scripts can be configured and executed automatically if this is required to make changes to applications and data to support the DR failover process.
Although we do support the capability to automatically change a virtual machine IP address for both live and test failovers, this is not a requirement for the dr2cloud Virtual platform. This is different to most other cloud-based DR service providers, who use layer 3 (routed) circuits or VPNs to connect your site/s to their cloud platform.
The dr2cloud Virtual platform employs layer 2 (bridge) technology that can be deployed for both direct (Ethernet point-to-point) and indirect (Internet/VPN) connectivity. This means that, in a failover situation, no changes are required to the protected VM/s, reducing the complexity and risk of failure.
In a failover situation that occurs when your site is still available, a VM is failed over, built and attached to the applicable ‘stretched’ LAN segment. From the perspective of the guest operating system it will think it is connected directly to your network, ensuring that it can continue to communicate with your surviving systems. From an end-user’s perspective they will have no visibility or knowledge that the VM is in fact being operated from the dr2cloud Virtual platform.
The dr2cloud Virtual service includes a full ‘sandbox’ failover test every six months at no extra charge, with extra tests available if required for a small fee based on the virtual machines included within the test. Failover testing ensures that the virtual environment and applications can be recovered successfully and in a timely manner in the event of a disaster.
The dr2cloud Virtual platform enables no-impact failover testing in just a few clicks, with no shutdown of the VMs in production and no break in the replication, allowing disaster recovery testing to be carried out during working hours and completed in minutes. During the ‘sandbox’ failover test, all VMs are built on common isolated networks to ensure that there is no-impact to production traffic, along with allowing the VMs to communicate with each other to verify multi-VM and multi-application recovery.
The dr2cloud Virtual platform also delivers automated, monthly failover tests of every individual protected virtual machine as standard. Once a VM is protected, it is added to a random schedule that will power-on the virtual machine every month to validate that the replicated image can be booted successfully.
Failover test reporting of both the ‘sandbox’ failover tests and automated monthly tests are available to easily prove the recovery capability for auditing and management purposes.
Unlike over services, we do not make a charge in the case of a failover of one VM or your complete protected environment.
The dr2cloud Virtual service includes 4 weeks’ ‘active’ run-time for every protected virtual machine per 12 month period. A simple per-VM cost model exists in the unlikely event that you need to run one or more VMs within the platform for longer than 4 weeks, which is billed in weekly increments.
The vCloud Director portal gives you secure access to your virtual data centre, where all recovered VMs are created for both testing and live failover events. From the vCloud Director portal you can get KVM remote access to each powered on VM, providing console access.
In addition you can also power on, power off, suspend, or resume any VM that has been created by the dr2cloud Virtual platform due to a test or live failover request.