vSphere Replication

Installing and Configuring VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 in vSphere 6.7

A crucial part of any disaster recovery is making sure production resources are able to be brought back online as quickly as possible. If you lose an entire site, you have to have a way to bring production virtual machines back on as quickly as possible. This generally is taken care of with replicating production data to a secondary site or DR facility. As you may or may not know VMware’s vSphere Replication software allows effectively replicating production virtual machine data from one site to another or even replicating data within the same site (although generally the whole purpose is to get your data to another location for availability purposes). VMware vSphere replication is available for free from VMware and is the basic component of VMware’s Site Recovery Manager when using native VMware products, although SRM can also be used with third-party data protection solutions that replicate data. VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 is the latest and greatest release of vSphere Replication that provides the replication of virtual machines in the vSphere environment. Let’s take a look at Installing and Configuring VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 in vSphere 6.7 and see what it takes to get the product stood up in a vSphere 6.7 environment along with setting up replication.

Installing and Configuring VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 in vSphere 6.7

For the purposes of this walk through, my lab environment is configured with a nested vSphere 6.7 environment.  The VMware vSphere Replication install that I downloaded is the 8.1 version, file name is as follows:

  • VMWare-vSphere_Replication-8.1.0-8744176
  • Size is around 1.6 GB

The install is via an ISO image file.  Simply mount the ISO and use it as the source of the OVF deploy from within vCenter Server.

Note On the below screenshots captured, I used the HTML5 UI for deploying the OVF template.  While the template deploys just fine with the HTML5 UI, you will receive the following error when trying to power on the appliance.  I want to save you the hassle that I ran into having to redeploy.

The virtual machine ‘vSphere_Replication’ has a required vService dependency vCenter Extension Installation’ which is not bound to a provider

You will have to redeploy the appliance using the FLEX client instead to avoid the error.

Starting-the-OVF-template-deploy-of-the-VMware-vSphere-Replication-8.1-appliance
Starting the OVF template deploy of the VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 appliance

Here, we need to choose the vSphere_Replication_OVF10 files along with the support and system VMDK.

Choose-the-needed-template-files-on-the-VMware-vSphere-Replication-8.1-ISO-installer
Choose the needed template files on the VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 ISO installer

Basic OVF Template deployment begins.

Files-chosen-ready-to-move-forward-with-VMware-vSphere-Replication-8.1-deployment
Files chosen ready to move forward with VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 deployment
Select-the-name-and-folder-for-VMware-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Select the name and folder for VMware vSphere Replication 8.1

As you can see I simply have a one host “cluster” nested in a lab environment.

Selecting-the-compute-resource-for-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Selecting the compute resource for vSphere Replication 8.1
Reviewing-details-of-vSphere-Replication-8.1-OVF-deploy
Reviewing details of vSphere Replication 8.1 OVF deploy
Accept-the-EULA
Accept the EULA

For lab purposes, I changed from the default (4) CPU configuration to 2 vCPU configuration.

CPU-configuration-for-vSphere-Replication-8.1
CPU configuration for vSphere Replication 8.1
Select-the-target-storage-for-vSphehre-Replication-8.1
Select the target storage for vSphehre Replication 8.1
Select-networks-for-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Select networks for vSphere Replication 8.1

Be sure to pay attention to the configuration under the Customize Template, step 9.  Here you have quite a bit of options that can be configured including, password, NTP, hostname, default gateway, domain, DNS lookup, DNS server, subnet mask, etc.

Customize-VMware-vSphere-Replication-8.1-template
Customize VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 template

Ready to start the deployment of the appliance.

Ready-to-complete-the-vSphere-Replication-8.1-OVF-template-deployment
Ready to complete the vSphere Replication 8.1 OVF template deployment

As noted in the outset, you will need to use the FLEX client.  The FLEX client properly installs the vCenter Extension as noted by the vService bindings which is not present in the HTML5 UI OVF deployment.

Using-the-FLEX-client-for-vSphere-Replication-8.1-for-vCenter-Extension-installation
Using the FLEX client for vSphere Replication 8.1 for vCenter Extension installation

Registering VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 with vCenter Server 6.7

The next step that needs to happen is register VMware vSphere Replication with vCenter Server.  To do this, login to your vSphere Replication 8.1 appliance in the VAMI interface or port 5480 to be exact.

  • https://<replication appliance IP/FQDN>:5480

You will want to populate the SSO administrator password under the VR >> Configuration tab.  Click the Save and Restart Service button after entering the password.

Enter-SSO-password-for-vCenter-under-the-Configuration-tab
Enter SSO password for vCenter under the Configuration tab

You will see a certificate warning.  Accept the certificate.

Accept-the-certificate-warning
Accept the certificate warning

Services will restart.

Services-restart-and-register-with-vCenter
Services restart and register with vCenter

You will then see the Successfully saved the configuration message in green at the top.

Successfully-saved-the-vSphere-Replication-8.1-integration-with-vCenter
Successfully saved the vSphere Replication 8.1 integration with vCenter

Configuring VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 and Creating Replication Job

In previous versions of VMware vSphere Replication, there was a separate shortcut that was created called vSphere Replications.  However, VMware has consolidated this under Site Recovery.  As you now see, both vSphere Replication and SRM reside under this shortcut.  Click the Open Site Recovery now to configure even/only vSphere Replication.

VMware-vSphere-Replication-is-now-found-under-Site-Recovery
VMware vSphere Replication is now found under Site Recovery

Note here, you can start to see the distinction.  You can create New Site Pair or look at the View Details under the Replications within the same vCenter Server.

Creating-Site-Pair-or-replication-within-same-vCenter-Server-VMware-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Creating Site Pair or replication within same vCenter Server – VMware vSphere Replication 8.1

Under the Replications within the same vCenter Server, click the Site menu and you will see basic visibility and functionality as well as administration of VMware vSphere Replication.

Under-Site-tab-vSphere-Replication-options-and-configuration
Under Site tab vSphere Replication options and configuration

Here you can see your replication servers and their connection status.

Replication-Server-has-status-of-connected
Replication Server has status of connected

If you click Replications, you can create a New VMware vSphere Replication job.

Creating-a-new-replication-in-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Creating a new replication in vSphere Replication 8.1

This launches the Configure Replication wizard.  The first step is to choose the source virtual machine.

Configure-replication-wizard-select-virtual-machine-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Configure replication wizard select virtual machine vSphere Replication 8.1

In the target site, since we are within the same vCenter and want to stay there for this configuration, you see the same vCenter server listed in the Target Site.  I am leaving auto-assign selected for the vSphere Replication Server.

Select-the-vSphere-Replication-8.1-target-site
Select the vSphere Replication 8.1 target site

Next, the target datastore for my purposes of labbing, I am selecting the same datastore as the source.  This will cause the wizard to find Seeding in place since it sees the same files on the same datastore.  In real world scenarios, you can see how the seeding would benefit you if a different datastore located in a different site, VMware vSphere Replication is smart enough to detect existing data and start building from this.

Select-the-target-datastore-for-virtual-machine-replication-in-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Select the target datastore for virtual machine replication in vSphere Replication 8.1

You can set the RPO for vSphere Replication down to as low as 5 minutes and also Enable point in time instances for additional recovery points.

Set-the-replication-settings-in-vSphere-Replication-8.1-including-RPO
Set the replication settings in vSphere Replication 8.1 including RPO

You are now ready to complete the replication job creation.  Click Finish.

Ready-to-complete-replication-configuration-in-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Ready to complete replication configuration in vSphere Replication 8.1

Under replications, you will see the newly creation replication job showing Not Active since the initial replication has not taken place yet.  Place a check by the VM and you will then see the options available.  One of those is the Sync Now option to force replication to start.

Synchronizing-the-newly-created-replication-with-vSphere-Replication-8.1
Synchronizing the newly created replication with vSphere Replication 8.1

After syncing the replica, the VM status changes to OK after synchronization takes place.

VM-replication-status-changes-to-OK
VM replication status changes to OK

In taking a quick look at the target datastore which also happens to be the source datastore in my lab environment, I see the newly creatd folder with the virtual machine files in place.

Verifying-virtual-machine-data-is-replicated
Verifying virtual machine data is replicated

Replication has indeed duplicated the virtual machine files.  Under the Replications tab you can expand the virtual machine and see the current statistics, status, and other pertinent information.

Replications-shows-the-current-status-of-the-replicated-virtual-machine
Replications shows the current status of the replicated virtual machine

Takeaways

Installing and Configuring VMware vSphere Replication 8.1 in vSphere 6.7 takes only a few steps from deploying the OVF template to logging into vCenter to start configuring your first replication job.  This includes registering the appliance with vCenter and the managing the replication server including creating new jobs.  We will next take this a step further with integrating with SRM and see what the process looks like to integrated with different sites and vCenter Servers with SRM.  Stay tuned.

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Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee is the Senior Writer, Engineer and owner at Virtualizationhowto.com and has over two decades of experience in Information Technology. Having worked for numerous Fortune 500 companies as well as in various industries, Brandon has extensive experience in various IT segments and is a strong advocate for open source technologies. Brandon holds many industry certifications, loves the outdoors and spending time with family.

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