Microsoft InMage Scout now available for download as part of Azure Site Recovery subscription

Customers of the Azure Site Recovery service are now able to try InMage Scout for free . Last week Microsoft InMage was acquired by Microsoft.

InMage enables protection of both virtual and physical servers. It does so by installing an agent which intercepts storage traffic, redirect that traffic to an appliance which then replicates the data to another location.

InMage can now be dowloaded for customers wanting to do recovery between two on-premises VMware sites.

As InMage Scout is able to perform V2V conversions it is likely in the future VMware customers can perform a recovery on Microsoft Azure.

Between July 1, 2014 and August 1, 2014 InMage Scout software can be used on a trial basis.

InMage Scout can be downloaded by creating a Azure Site Recovery Vault. At the Setup Recovery select ‘Between two on-premises VMware sites.

Customers pay for the instances they are protecting with InMage Scout through the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) SKU available in the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement beginning on August 1, 2014. InMage Scout is a deployment option available to you as part of the Azure Site Recovery service. Scout is not available for purchase via Azure Direct or Azure Enterprise Agreement monetary commitment. Customers should use the true-up process in the Enterprise Agreement to account for additional instances protected with InMage Scout.

The download is 770 MB in size.

Read the Microsoft blog about this news here.

 

Microsoft acquires InMage. Enhanced disaster recovery services for Microsoft Azure

Today Microsoft announced it  has acquired InMage. InMage is a US company while software development is done in India. InMage offers software to enable disaster recovery (DR) for mid-market and enterprises. 

There are many solutions on the market offering DR. However InMage is the only one supporting all assets in a datacenter: both physical and virtual servers ( VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V and XenServer). It supports Windows Server, Linux, IBM AIX  and Solaris. It supports major enterprise applications like Exchange, SQL, Oracle, SAP and Sharepoint.

One of the software solutions of InMage is Scout. Scout is storage agnostic and allows to replicate virtual machines as well as physical servers to a target location. This can be either a secondary datacenter, to a cloud provider like Azure or to a Managed Service Provider datacenter. InMage has many Service Provider customers in the US. For example SunGuard. Cisco uses InMage Scout in its blueprints which can be used by partners building DRaaS solutions. InMage partners with HP, Hitachi and Fujitsu which provide DR services.

Scout current version is 7.1.

The solutions are offered in three form factors: software, a hardware and as Software as a Service.

Scout will be integrated in the current Microsoft Azure service called ‘Azure Site Recovery’ which is in Preview at the moment.

Besides the support for all major hypervisors a very interesting feature of InMage Scout is the ability to covert hypervisor virtual machine disk formats. So a VMware customer can protect their virtual machines running on vSphere  (which uses  VMDK format) to Microsoft Azure which uses Hyper-V .VHD virtual disks.

Also for example an Amazon customer can easily migrate virtual machines to Azure using InMage Scout.

In this  blogpost,  Takeshi Numoto – Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise Marketing , states

This acquisition will accelerate our strategy to provide hybrid cloud business continuity solutions for any customer IT environment, be it Windows or Linux, physical or virtualized on Hyper-V, VMware or others. This will make Azure the ideal destination for disaster recovery for virtually every enterprise server in the world. As VMware customers explore their options to permanently migrate their applications to the cloud, this will also provide a great onramp.

Microsoft has two main goals by the acquistion of InMage:

  1. attract Microsoft customers to Microsoft Azure
  2. attract VMware and other non Hyper-V customers to Microsoft Azure. VMware has a large installed base but not every VMware customer can afford a secondary datacenter. Especially in Europe there are not many Service Providers offering a mature Disaster Recovery as a Service offering. VMware itself only recently introduced its vCHS-DR service.

It is interesting to see how the currently in Preview service ‘Azure Site Recovery’ (ASR) will mature now InMage has been acquired. ASR support is limited to Hyper-V virtual machines running on-premises. It provides some orchestration features but is limited in out of the box post-processing of failover of virtual machines. For example changing IP addresses needs to be scripted. It is not unlikely development of ASR will change course.

Technology
InMage Scout uses agents which are installed in a source server (physcial or virtual server). This agent copies every write to disk and sents it to a software appliance called the InMage Scout Server. I understand this can be either a virtual machine (called the Process server) or a hardware appliance 

This appliance has two functions:

  • -a backup function. It stores backup data on disk.
  • -a disaster recovery function. It replicates data to a secondary site or to the cloud. It does compression and encryption as well.

In the secondary location there is a virtual appliance as well which is used to process the replicated data. It stores the replicated virtual disks on storage. Replica’s of virtual machines do not have to be powered on during the replication. This is very usefull as it does not consume compute and memory resources thus lowering costs.

At failover or failover testing virtual machines are created and started.

Conclusion

The acquisition of InMage is a very interesting one. Many see Disaster Recovery as a Service as a  first step for organizations to embrace cloud computing. Now DraaS is open for any enterprise, also non Hyper-V customers. The barrier for using DRaaS is lowered now.

 

Microsoft introduces Microsoft Azure StorSimple, a new virtual appliance and 2 new arrays

Today Microsoft announced some interesting news on StorSimple:

  • introduction of two new StorSimple arrays
  • a new StorSimple Virtual Appliance
  • a new Azure service called ‘Microsoft Azure StorSimple’.

For those unaware of Microsoft StorSimple: it  is a hardware storage appliance available in 4 models which is placed in an on-premises location. It has a couple of SSD and SAS drives for local storage. Volumes are served to hosts using iSCSI. SMB shares are not supported yet. StorSimple  complements Tier1 storage systems by being able to automatically move infrequently accessed data to Microsoft Azure storage. Data stored in Azure remains available for access by users and applications. Users will only notice a small delay when accessing data stored in Azure. Think about a single stretched volume which has data located on the StorSimple local storage as well as in Azure.

The main driver to use StorSimple devices is saving on storage costs while its unique disaster recovery features are a nice bonus as well.

StorSimple is limited to serving  unstructured data like Office files etc.

The interesting news of today is that StorSimple will be available as a virtual appliance as well. An Azure virtual machine can run the StorSimple software and perform the same features as the hardware appliance placed on-premises.

This will be available from August 1.

The news was announced in this blog titled Introducing Microsoft Azure StorSimple

The two new arrays are the 8100 and the 8600. The 8100 has a raw local storage capacity of 15 TB while the 8600 has 40 TB. By using compression and deduplication the effective capacity for the 8100 is 75 TB to 200 TB for the 8600.

8100-8600

The new StorSimple virtual appliance  enables for example a scenario where customers replicate on-premises StorSimple snapshots to Azure based virtual appliances. Applications running in Azure can then analyze data without disrupting production workloads running on-premises.

The StorSimple virtual appliance is only supported when the StorSimple 8100 and StorSimple 8600 are used. Current models are not supported! Which is a big pity if you ask me.

Another use case is disaster recovery. A StorSimple hardware appliance is a single point of failure. If it breaks down or is destroyed because of fire/flooding/collapse of the datacenter, customers will require a spare StorSimple appliance to be able to recover data. Now recovery can be performed using StorSimple virtual appliances running in Azure.

Recovery using StorSimple is not having to wait before a restore has complete. StorSimple instant recovery works as follows: a cloudbased snapshot is mounted to a StorSimple array or virtual appliance. Then the data is made available to users instantly. The file is only moved from Azure to the appliance when it is being accessed. So instead of recovering all files, only files which are accessed are restored while showing all files.

The Virtual Appliance connects to Azure VMs using a virtual iSCSI Ethernet network and the same platform volume and storage management tools (such as Windows Disk Management) and iSCSI initiators that are used on-premises. That means many of the same system management skills used on-premises are used in Azure to do the same things there. 

This Microsoft blog has some details!

Management of the 8000 series arrays and the Azure StorSimple virtual appliance running in Azure is done using a new Azure service called ‘Azure StorSimple Manager‘.
StorSimple Manager provides a central console for monitoring multiple StorSimple devices which are located in for example branch offices. It shows whether it is online or offline, shows the ratio of the provisioned capacity to the maximum capacity of the device. It also can be used to restore a cloudbased backup from for example an on-premises StorSimple device to a StorSimple virtual device.

 

Two new hardware appliances will be available: the model 8100 and the 8600.The 8100 is a 2u model while the 8600 has 4u. The specifications are shown below. For a full overview see this page.

8100-vs-8600

The StorSimple appliances are not cheap. The 8600 has a listprice of $ 170.000,-

pricing

The pricing overview showing all currently available StorSimple devices is here.

 

Azure Site Recovery is now available as Preview

Azure Site Recovery is now available as Preview. This service formerly known as Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager is able to orchestrate failover between two customer owned sites.

It is also able to replicate Hyper-V virtual machine to Microsoft Azure datacenters saving customers on costs of a secondary datacenter.

Besides replication to Azure the service also allows an orchestrated recovery of virtual machines in case of failover to an Azure datacenter.

Customers must be using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R and virtual machines running on Hyper-V. At the moment only Generation 1 VMs are supported. VHD & VHDX virtual disk files are supported.

A getting started with Azure Site Recovery  for on-premises to Azure is available here.

More information on Site Recovery here.

Costs
During Preview customers ger a 50% discount on pricing. The costs of protecting on-premises virtual machines to Microsoft Azure are $ 27,- per month per virtual machine *during Preview* . Customers receive 100GB of replication and storage per VM. Charging is based on an average usage per month. Suppose a customer protects 20 virtual machines for the first half of the month and none for the second half, the average daily number of protected virtual machines being charged by Microsoft would be 10.

Costs for using Azure Site Recovery as an orchestration tool for replication to another customer managed site is $ 16,- per month per virtual machine.

Book
I will cover Azure Site Recovery in my new book on Microsoft hybrid cloud.

Veeam Backup & Replication 7.0 Patch 4 now available

Veeam released Patch 4 for Veeam Backup & Replication 7.0.

This patch contains new features and resolved issues.

Make sure you are running version 7.0.0.690, 7.0.0.715, 7.0.0.764, 7.0.0.771, 7.0.0.833, 7.0.0.839 or 7.0.0.870 prior to installing this patch. You can check this under Help | About in Veeam Backup & Replication console.

After upgrading, your build will be version 7.0.0.871

The release notes are here. Link to the download at the bottom of the release notes.

New features and enhancements:

VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN)

  • In addition to adding basic support (as provided by other vendors), the intelligent load-balancing engine was enhanced to account for VSAN specifics. As the result, for each VM the job will pick backup proxy running on VSAN cluster node with most of the virtual disks’ data available locally. This significantly reduces backup traffic on VSAN cluster network, resulting in minimum possible impact on production environment from backup activities.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014

  • Added support for Microsoft SQL Server 2014 both as the protected guest workload (including application-aware processing functionality), and the back-end database for backup and Enterprise Manager servers.

License key auto update

  • Added automated license key update option to the License Information dialog. With auto-update enabled, the product will check Veeam licensing server periodically for an updated license key, and download and install the key automatically as soon as it becomes available. This feature is particularly useful to the Service Providers and subscription-based customers, and it removes the need to download and install the license key manually each time when the license extension is purchased.

Backup Copy

  • The maximum allowed amount of restore points in the Backup Copy job has been increased to 999.
  • Backup Copy will now resume the transfer after network connection drop to a Linux-based backup repository.
  • Backup Copy jobs should no longer report errors during the days when source backup jobs are not scheduled to run – for example, during the weekend.

Hyper-V

  • Added support for certain Hardware VSS Providers that previously could not be detected by the storage rescan process, and as such could not be used by the jobs.
  • Jobs will now retry failed snapshot creation when another shadow copy of the same volume is already in progress, instead of immediately failing to process a VM.