EMC RecoverPoint Continuous Remote Replication Review
RecoverPoint combines vSphere Replication with RecoverPoint for storage arrays


The history of RecoverPoint is an interesting one – first off it was available via a host-based (i.e. Windows) or Fabric-based (i.e. Brocade) splitter and used dedicated physical appliances. Things got really interesting when EMC built the splitter technology into their arrays (VNX, VMAX and VPLEX) as it became much simpler and more cost effective to deploy. The next phase of its evolution was to create a virtual appliance that can be deployed more cost effectively that the physical appliances – initially these were even free, but now there is a nominal charge for them.

The next logical progression of the technology is to go back to the beginning and build new host splitters, but for hypervisors rather than operating systems. The great news is that VMware has just introduced a feature called vSphere APIs for I/O Filters (VAIO) – sounds pretty cool, but what does it do?

It allows VMware’s partners to plug their technology directly into the VM I/O Path to provide services like server-side caching, de-duplication, compression, replication or encryption.

This provided the RecoverPoint team with the capability to build a splitter directly into vSphere that can replicate individual VMs (VMDK and RDM) on any type of storage supported by VMware (FC, FCoE, iSCSI, NAS and DAS) – much like vSphere Replication.

Thus RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines was born combining the best of vSphere Replication with the best of RecoverPoint for storage arrays.

How does it improve on vSphere Replication?

  1. Uses continuous replication rather than copy-on-write snapshots
  2. Has minimal impact on storage performance so can scale much further
  3. Enables synchronous and near zero RPO asynchronous replication
  4. Uses WAN optimisation to significantly reduce bandwidth requirements
  5. Has in-built orchestration so does not require Site Recovery Manager
  6. Uses a journal to enable recovery to any point-in-time
  7. Can replicate a group of VMs at a consistent point-in-time

What are the RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines components?

  1. vCenter plug-in
  2. ESXi write-splitter
  3. Virtual appliance

vSphere 5.1 and 5.5 are supported.

So if vSphere Replication meets your needs and its impact on performance is minimal then stick with it (as it is included with most versions of vSphere why would you not?), but typically copy-on-write snapshot based replication solutions do not scale well (see Comparing asynchronous remote replication technologies) so this is where RecoverPoint steps in. I especially think for customers of EMC XtremIO (which currently does not have native replication) RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines will become the de facto solution.

vSphere VAIO and RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines are two pretty significant pieces of new technology that are going to provide even more options for customers – which has got to be a good thing.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: We are Partners with EMC.

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