Failing Back From Azure Site Recovery: Part 2

In the previous blog post we performed the initial installation for failing back to on-premises vSphere.  Now it’s time to configure our on-premises Master Target Server.

Login to your on-premises Master Target Server and launch vContinuum.  Change the Application Type to P2V (this is how vContinuum sees Azure VM’s) and select new Protection

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Select your Azure Virtual Machines.

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If you have performed several failovers and failbacks (like I have) you will be greeted with a remove duplicate entries dialogue box.Azure 68

Azure Site Recovery uses the context of ‘Host ID’.  To identify which entry should be kept, login to your protected VM and go to C:Program Files (x86)Microsoft Azure Site RecoveryApplication Dataetc and open the file drscout.conf using notepad.  Locate the Host ID and remove all other entries from the duplicated entries screen.

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Click Next and enter the following details:

  • vCenter Name
  • Username
  • Password

Then select Get Details and select the your Master Target Server and Click Next

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I have chosen the following settings:

  • Retention Size – Size of log disk E Drive.
  • Retention Value – Up to 2 logs of 100MB will be stored
  • Days or Hours – Logs will be stored for up to 2 days
  • Consistency Interval – Replication interval will be checked every 15 minutes to ensure it is in line with this target
  • Datastore – Target datastore

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Next onto the network settings, these are pretty straight forward:

  • Network Configuration – Select IP Address and Port Group the VM should be attached to on failback
  • Hardware Configuration – CPU and Memory the VM will have when failed back
  • Display Name – Hope I don’t have to explain this
  • NAT Configuration – This is how each item communicates with each other.  A little more details below.

Use PS NAT IP between source and process server for data transfer – This is between the Azure Protected VM and the Process Server.  If they are on the same Azure subnet then this can be left blank.  If on different subnets then tick the box.

Use PS NAT IP between process server and target for data transfer – This is between the Azure Process Server and our on-premises Master Target.  If they are on the same subnet or using a Site to Site VPN this can be left blank.  If transfering data over the public internet via SSL then tick the box.

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Note: If using PS NAT IP between Azure Process Server and target for data transfer you will need to enter the public IP address of the Azure Process Server under ‘Update PS NAT IP(s)’

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Now we are ready to run the ‘Readiness Check’.  Figures crossed it goes smoothly.  Click ‘Run Readiness Checks’

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If you pass correctly you should be in a position to create a New Failback Plan.  Enter a name and Click Protect

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The Protection Status window is displayed which shows the steps which are being performed.

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Final Thought

At the moment, it is a manual process to update the IP Address and hardware configuration from Azure to on on-premises.  It would be great if the Azure team could introduce:

  • A bulk subnet change for example every VM on in Azure should go to on premises with a default gateway of and DNS Servers
  • A bulk hardware change by grouping VM’s for example tick a group of VM’s and they have 2 vCPU and 4GB RAM

In the next blog post we will perform the failback to our on-premises vSphere environment.


Failing Back From Azure Site Recovery: Part 1

In the last blog post we covered failing over to Azure.  Let’s take a moment to be honest, Microsoft want you to stay in Azure when you have failed over.  However for some customers this isn’t going to be a reality and they will want to move back to their on-premises vSphere environment.

So in this blog post we are going to failback to our on-premises vSphere environment.  Before we start we need to look at the architecture to ensure that we understand how it fits together.

Components of Azure Site Recovery (Failback to vSphere)

  • Azure Process Server – This receives replication data from the Mobility Service (in-guest agent)  using disk based cache.  It is used to compress and encrypt data on-premises before sending it over internet/VPN/Express Route to the Master Target Server on-premises
  • Azure Mobility Service – This can be pushed out automatically by the Process Server or performed manually.  Essentially it is an IO splitter that takes a write to disk, holds it in memory and sends it across to the Azure Process Server
  • Azure Configuration Server – This is the brains, it co-ordinates communication between all components both on-premises and in Azure.  Each Configuration Server can support up to 100 source virtual machines.
  • On-Premises Master Target – Receives incoming replication traffic from the Azure Process Server. Each protected VM is added as a VMDK.
  • On-Premises vContinuum Server – Performs the management and configuration of the failback from Azure to vSphere.

The diagram below shows the relationship between all the components.Azure Site Recovery Components Failbackv0.1

As you have probably guessed, we have a couple of servers that need to be deployed onto our on-premises vSphere infrastructure which are the vContinuum Server and Master Target Server.

The requirements for the vContinuum Server and Master Target Server are shown below:

  • Master Target Server – Windows Server 2012 R2, 8 Cores, 14GB RAM and at least 600GB HD
  • vContinuum Server – Windows Server 2012 R2, 8 Cores, 8GB RAM and at least 160GB HDD

On-Premises vContinuum Server Installation

Log onto your vContinuum Server and download the vContinuum software from here.  You should be greeted by a download prompt for ‘Microsoft-ASR_vContinuum_MT_8.4.0.0_Windows_GA_28Jul2015_release.exe’.

Launch the .exe and Click Next

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If you haven’t already download and installed vSphere CLI.  Instructions on how to do this are covered in this blog post.

Next we need to enter the following information:

  • Configuration Server IP Address
  • Configuration Server Port
  • Configuration Server Passphrase

This blog post covers details on how to obtain this information.

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Click Install

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This can take a while so suggest you head off and grab a cup of tea.  Once completed select Yes to restart your computer.

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On-Premises Master Target Server Installation

Before installing your Master Target Server, it is recommended to have a secondary SCSI Controller and Hard Disk for your Retention Drive.Azure 63

The installation for the Master Target is included in the vContinuum .exe.  So the procedure is exactly the same as the vContinuum Server installation.

Azure Process Server

Next we need to ensure that we have a Process Server available in Azure so that it can send data to the Master Target Server on-premises.

Login to the Azure Portal and select Recovery Services > VMFocusVault > Servers > Configuration Servers > + Process Server

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Enter the details for:

  • Process Server Name
  • User Name
  • Password
  • Configuration Server
  • Azure Network
  • IP Address

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Once deployed login to your Azure Process Server enter the details for your configuration server and Click Save

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Note: It is recommended to deploy your Azure Process Server on the same network as your Azure Configuration Server

Now that the initial installation is done we are ready to start configuring failback in the next blog post.

Failing Over To Azure Site Recovery

We are ready to failover our on-premises vSphere virtual machines to Azure.  Before we do it’s important to verify that our Configuration Server and Master Target Server are functioning correctly.

In the Azure Portal, select Recovery Services > VMFocusVault > Servers > Configuration Servers > Select Configuration Server.  Verify that displayed details are healthy.

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Before we proceed any further, it’s worthwhile noting that Azure Site Recovery is in it’s infancy from an on-premises vSphere to Azure perspective.  Therefore it’s worthwhile noting that:

  • Only unplanned failover is supported
  • If you want your data to be consistent, shutdown your protected VM’s on-premises and wait for the next replication interval to complete

We need to create a Recovery Plan (which I would expect you to have in place already).  The purpose of a Recovery Plan is to group together virtual machines which should failover together.

  • Virtual Machines across different Protection Groups can be in the same Recovery Plan.  The use case for this is perhaps you have a three tier application where VM1 RPO is daily, VM2 PPO is 4 Hourly and VM3 is Hourly.
  • Once in a Recovery Plan, virtual machine start up order can be determined
  • Before a virtual machine is started a manual action can be inserted e.g. prompt to verify that a service has been checked before moving onto the next step
  • Before or after a virtual machines is started a script can be triggered

To create a Recovery Plan select Recovery Services > VMFocusVault > Recovery Plans > Create Recovery Plan

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I’m going to create a single Recovery Plans called VMF-RP01:

  • Virtual machine VMF-AZ01 needs to maintain it’s current IP address, as if I had stretched my on-premises layer 2 network into Azure
  • Virtual machine VMF-AZ02 need a new IP address and therefore will be RE-IP’d as part of this process
  • VMF-AZ01 needs to start before VMF-AZ02

The screenshot below confirms the name of the Recovery Plan I have created called VMF-RP01.

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As described the Protected Entities are VMF-AZ01 and VMF-AZ02.

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Once the Recovery Plan is created.   Select the it by clicking on it’s name (in my case VMF-RP01) and you will see the following screen.

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By default all VM’s will be started and stopped at the same time. To change this select the Group+ icon and you will see a Group 2 has been created.

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Expand Group 1 and Select VMF-AZ02 and Select Move Virtual Machine > Group 2

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Once done it should look like this

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Note: Don’t forget to save your changes to the Recovery Plan


Time to failover, to test things properly, I’m going to mimic an actual disaster in which our on-premises virtual machines are unable to communicate with Azure Site Recovery.  The easiest way for us to do this is to disable the virtual NICs on our on-premises Process Server, VMF-AZ01 and VMF-AZ02 in vCenter.

Back to the Azure Portal, Select Recovery Services > VMFocusVault> Recovery Plans > Failover

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Select either Latest Recovery Point In Time or Latest Application Consistent Recovery Point

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That’s it sit back and make a cup of tea whilst our Recovery Plan goes into full effect.  If however, you do want to monitor the Job, select View Job.

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In total VMF-RP01 took 24 minutes to complete.Azure 57

We should now see two more virtual machine instances available.

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Checking the virtual machines, I can verify the following:

  • VMF-AZ01 is on IP Address which is our extended on-premises Layer 2 network
  • VMF-AZ02 is on IP Address which is our routed Layer 3 network

Interestingly, EndPoints  aren’t configured for RDP and PowerShell as per a standard virtual machine deployed in Azure.  External access if required, will need to be configured manually.

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In the next blog post, we are going to reprotect and failback to on-premises.

How To: Install & Configure Azure Site Recovery: Part 4

In the previous blog post we configured our on-premises Process Server and the communication between vCenter and the Configuration Server via the Process Server.  In this blog post we are going to protect some virtual machines.

Start by logging into the Azure Portal selecting Recovery Services > VMFocusVault > Protected Items > Protection Groups > Create New Protection Group

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Specify a Protection Group name, as I’m original I’m going with VMF-PG01

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Next we need to select the Replication Settings for the Protection Group, choices are:

  • Multi VM Consistency – Each VM within the Protection Group will be consistent with each over
  • RPO Threshold – How much data can we afford to loose, bandwidth needs to be able to cope with this setting
  • Recovery Point Retention – How many recovery points do we want to have available?
  • Application Consistent Snapshot Frequency – Calls VSS to quiescence memory

Select your chosen settings and Click the Tick

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Once the Protection Group has finished being created.  Click on the Protection Group and select ‘Add Virtual Machines’

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Select the virtual machines you want to protect (in my case VMF-AZ01) and Click the Tick

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Next select your Process Server, Master Target Server and Storage Account and Click the Tick

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Finally specify the credentials for the Mobility Service to use to perform installation.  Then Click the Tick

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Naturally, it will take sometime for the initial replication to complete.  However this can be monitored by selecting the Protection Group.

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Quite a few cups of tea later and my on-premises vSphere virtual machines are now protected within Azure Site Recovery.  Now I want to configure the virtual machines so that they use the correct virtual networks within Azure.

Select your Protection Group then click on your VM

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Select Configure from the top bar

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This is the heart of the configuration of where our protected on-premises VM will sit in Azure.  The items we can configure are:

  • Name – These can be altered on-premises to Azure.  Not entirely sure of the use case for this, but it’s an option
  • Properties – The target VM in Azure when it is hydrated.  Note that you cannot change between VM’s between series once failed over to Azure so make sure you choose the right one.
  • Network – The target Azure Network and IP address for virtual machine

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Now we have configured the protection for our virtual machines, in the next post we are going to failover to Azure.

How To: Install & Configure Azure Site Recovery: Part 3

In the previous blog post, I covered creating installing and configuring the Master Target Server so that it could establish communication with the Configuration Server.  In this installment, we will be installing and configuring the Process Server.

This might seem a bit strange but the first thing we need to do is download and install vSphere CLI 5.5 onto our Process Server.  vSphere CLI can be found here.  If you don’t already have a VMware login you will need to create one.

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Logon to your Process Server and follow the on screen prompts to install vSphere CLI 5.5.  Once installed we need to move onto deploying the Process Server.

From your Process Server and then sign into Azure Portal.  In the Azure Portal the first thing we need to do is go to Recovery Services > VMFocusVault > Download and install Process Server

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Extract ProcessServerInstaller_8.4.0_GA zip.  You will notice two files, the first one we need to run is ‘Microsoft-ASR_CX_TP_8.4.0.0_Windows_GA_28Jul2015_release’

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This file installs the dependencies on which the Process Server relies.  Click Install

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Once the installation finishes we need to run the next file ‘Microsoft-ASR_CX_8.4.0.0_Windows_GA_28Jul2015_release’.  Click Next

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Select Process Server.  Click Next

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Select Yes in response to ‘are you going to protect any VMware virtual machines?’ Then Click Next

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Select the NIC for the Process Server to communicate on.  Click Next

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I will be communicating over the public internet without a VPN tunnel.  Therefore, I need to enter the following details:

  • Configuration Server Public IP Address
  • Configuration Server Public HTTPS Port
  • Configuration Server Passphrase

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Select your Hard Drive which has at least 600B of space free and Click Install.  Once installed, you need to restart the computer.

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Rather than waiting for the connection to be established to the Configuration Server which can take sometime.  We can bypass this by clicking on Recovery Services > VMFocusVault > Servers > Refresh

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Once refreshed, click on your Configuration Server and verify that your Process Server is shown.

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Next we need to add in a vCenter Server.  To do this select Recovery Services> VMFocusVault > Add VMware vCenter Servers

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Complete the dialogue box below with the details you have entered previously.

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Note: vCenter Server and Process Server should be on the same network.

Once updated you should see your vCenter Server listed under Configuration Servers.

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In the next blog post we are going to protect some virtual machines!