Disaster Recovery for Horizon View has always been a hot topic. To this date VMware still doesn’t provide an official methodology to protect virtual desktops. Equally, VMware Site Recovery Manager does not support Linked Clone desktops created by Horizon View Composer. Conversely, Full Clone desktops can be protected using native storage replication or vSphere host-based replication.
Nutanix provides native asynchronous and synchronous VM-Centric replication, automatically registering and powering on desktops with the destination vCenter, making them available for use in the recovery site. When the recovery event is over Nutanix applies all VM block changes back to the primary site and re-initiate the workload. The video below I published a while back and demonstrates the workflow with ‘Full Clone’ desktops.
However, most Horizon View deployments are currently using Linked Clones desktops provisioned with View Composer. Linked Clone desktops can be of non-persistent (aka floating) and persistent types. For the non-persistent type no protection to the virtual machine is required and there are multiple ways to enable protection and replication of user data and profiles. Back in 2010 I wrote an article entitled VMware View Disaster Recovery Scenarios & Options and the options available at the time are still pretty much unchanged.
What many administrators realized is that while using Linked Cloning many desktops cannot be simply dismantled, refreshed or recomposed due to user installed applications, files not saved to correct locations, log retention policies etc. Often times I hear administrators telling me they like the Linked Cloning management capabilities, but in practice desktops cannot be destroyed.
To this date I have not seen a solution that will properly backup and replicate Linked Clone desktops with full understanding of View Composer intricacies, including replica disk paths, vmx and datastore paths, internal and non-attached disks, etc.
Well, I have been working directly with the ingenious Nutanix engineering team and I am happy to announce that your problems are over.
Nutanix 4.1 (GA) has a complete understanding of the Horizon View Composer intricacies and is able to backup/restore and replicate Linked Clone desktops to a recovery site. Additionally, when in recovery mode it is possible to power on those desktops (Nutanix automatically register VMs with vCenter in the recovery site) and make use of them. When the recovery event is over all changes are replicated back to the primary site and life returns to normal.
Desktops are not the only resources needed when in recovery mode; you will also need Connection and Security Servers, Active Directory, SQL or Oracle Databases. All components, if not already available in the recovery site, can be replicated and made available for use. Please note, that DNS name resolution and IP translations for Connection and Security Servers must remain the same to allow desktop agents to communicate properly. For this reason it is suggested use of stretch layer 2 technologies.
There are couple guidelines to be observed.
- Limit Linked Clone desktop pools to a maximum of 50 desktops and ensure desktops are member of a unique Nutanix Consistency Group and Protection Domain. Multiple backup and retention schedules may be created. (Nutanix is working to increase the 50 desktops per PD limitation)
- Before executing a ‘planned’ recovery the administrator must disable Horizon View desktop pools to avoid automatic power-on of desktops that may prevent them from being migrated to the recovery site.
- When in recovery mode users can access desktops and the Connection Broker is able to execute power operations. However, in recovery mode no View Composer operations such as Refresh and Recompose can be executed. Once the desktops are migrated back to the primary site all operations are once again available.
- Nutanix will soon release a best practices guide.
Truthfully, it is that simple to provide backup/restore and recovery capabilities to Horizon View Linked Clone or Full Clone desktops with Nutanix.
This article was first published by Andre Leibovici (@andreleibovici) at myvirtualcloud.net.