2014
01.17

Microsoft announced the general availability of Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) overnight. HRM is an Azure-based subscription service that allows you manage and orchestrate your Hyper-V Replica disaster recovery between sites.

As you can see in the below diagram, HRM resides in Azure. You have an SCVMM-managed cloud in the primary site.  You have another SCVMM-managed cloud in a secondary site; yes, there is a second SCVMM installation – this probably keeps things simple to be honest. Agents are downloaded from HRM to each SCVMM install to allow both SCVMM installations to integrate with HRM in the cloud. Then you manage everything through a portal. Replication remains direct from the primary site to the secondary site; replication traffic never passes through Azure. Azure/HRM are only used to manage and orchestrate the process.

There is a big focus on failover orchestration in HRM, including the ability to tier and build dependencies, just as real-world applications require.

I’ve not played with the service yet. I’ve sat through multiple demos and read quite a bit. There are nice features but there is one architectural problem that concerns me, and an economic issue that Microsoft can and must fix or else this product will go the way of Google Reader.

Pros

  • Simple: It’s a simple product. There is little to set up (agents) and the orchestration process has a pretty nice GUI. Simple is good in these days of increasing infrastructure & service complexity.
  • Orchestration: You can configure nice and complex orchestration. The nature of this interface appears to lend itself to being quite scalable.
  • Failover: The different kinds of failover, including test, can be performed.

Cons

  • Price: HRM is stupid expensive. I’ve talked to a good few people who knew about the pricing and they all agreed that they wouldn’t pay €11.92/month per virtual machine for an replication orchestration tool. That’s €143.04 per year per VM – just for orchestration!!! Remember that the replication mechanism (Hyper-V Replica) is built-in for free into Hyper-V (a free hypervisor).
  • Reliance on System Center: Microsoft touts the possibility of hosting companies using HRM in multi-tenant DR services. Let’s be clear here; the majority of customers that will want a service like this will be small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Larger enterprises will either already have their own service or have already shifted everything into public cloud or co-location hosting (where DR should already exist). Those SMEs mostly have been priced out of the System Center market. That means that service providers would be silly to think that they can rely on HRM to orchestrate DR for the majority of their customers – the many small ones that need the most automation because of the high engineering time versus profit ratio.
  • Location! Location! Location!: I need more than a bullet point for this most critical of problems. See below.

I would never rely on a DR failover/orchestration system that resides in a location that is outside of my DR site. I can’t trust that I will have access to that tool. Those of us who were working during 9/11 remember what the Internet was like – yes, even 3000 miles away in western Europe; The Internet ground to a halt. Imagine a disaster on the scale of 9/11 that drew the same level of immediate media and social interest. Now imagine trying to invoke your business continuity plan (BCP) and logging into the HRM portal. If the Net was stuffed like it was on 9/11 then you would not be able to access the portal and would not be able to start your carefully crafted and tested failover plan. And don’t limit this to just 9/11; consider other scenarios where you just don’t have remote access because ISPs have issues or even the Microsoft data centre has issues.

In my opinion, and I’m not alone here, the failover management tool must reside in the DR site as an on-premise appliance where it can be accessed locally during a disaster. Do not depend on any remote connections during a disaster. Oh; and at least halve the price of HRM.

2 comments so far

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  1. HRM should be build into SCVMM as standard.

    • Agreed. And HRM should reside in the DR site, not in the cloud. Please let MSFT hear your feedback. I’ve had those discussions with marketing and with the product group and they are under the impression that I am alone in this opinion.

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