Disaster recovery of the University’s private cloud infrastructure

The University’s private cloud operates over two sites – 13 Banbury Road (former OUCS) and the University Shared Data Centre on Parks Road. Half the service is delivered from each site, with “Campus” virtual datacentres hosted at OUCS and “Datacentre” vDCs hosted at USDC.

(The difference between “Campus” and “Datacentre” vDCs will be covered in more depth in a future blog post, but is basically in how networking is presented. If you want your local network – and hence your existing IP range – to be available in your virtual datacentre, then you’ll want a Campus vDC. If this is not a concern for you and you are happy to use the far more resilient data centre networks, then we will deploy a “Datacentre” vDC. On reflection we should have named “Datacentre” vDCs something a little more illuminating, but hey).

As well as delivering half the service, each site also acts as a failover location for the other half of the service. In the event of a disaster at one of the sites, we will fail over your virtual datacentre to the alternate site (so for example if the OUCS site were to suffer a complete power outage, we would fail all “Campus” vDCs over to the USDC site). There are spare ESXi hosts ready at each site ready to accommodate the extra VM workloads in the event of a site failover.

The Oxford Cloud DR solution was developed jointly by VMware and the University and is believed to be the first of its kind in the world. It is based upon a combination of VMware’s Site Recovery Manager product and a series of PowerCLI scripts and aims to automate the process of disaster recovery as far as is practical. The technical design has been the subject of several seminars and presentations, most notably at VMworld 2012 (session NF-BCO2155) and the UK VMware User Group (VMUG) User Conference in November last year. Presentations are available online (although it appears that a subscription is required for access to VMworld presentations for non-attendees) and a case study detailing the components of the Oxford solution has recently been released. This technical paper is entitled “VMware vCloud Director Infrastructure Resiliency Case Study” and is available from VMware’s site at http://www.vmware.com/resources/techresources/10355.

We will likely present on this at this year’s ICTF conference, but in the meantime feel free to contact us if you are interested in hearing more about the disaster recovery solution.

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