New IT Infrastructure Access Solution: Veeam Availability Orchestrator

    Almost every day, we learn that in another company there was a serious malfunction in the IT infrastructure, which led to serious financial and reputational losses. System failure is the first thing that comes to mind when possible risks are calculated for the operation of IT services and the organization as a whole. However, much more often there are other reasons: the human factor, equipment outages, power outages, malware, data corruption - all this can lead to a complete stop of systems and applications.

    The likelihood of a successful failover to the backup site - planned or urgent - will be small if you do not pay enough attention to the procedure and plan of the switch, do not update it in a timely manner and do not test it at the right time. Incorrectly specified dependencies of machines and applications, not documented changes, incorrect processes, not checked for correct operation of the application and services, incorrect sequence of starting machines from replicas are just some of the problems that can interfere with the successful switching of one application or the whole data center.

    To help organizations deal with these issues, Veeam recently released the new Veeam Availability Orchestrator to automate management of VM replicas when switching to a backup site. (The first version of the solution supports virtual machines based on VMware vSphere.) Read more about the new product under the cat.

    As we know, a plan to switch to a backup site is an integral part of a disaster and disaster recovery plan (DR plan). So, if virtual machines run critical applications that depend on one another, then to maintain the system in case of an accident, it is necessary to correctly switch to replicas of these VMs in a certain sequence (first the domain controller, and then Exchange, and not vice versa) . To automate this process, Veeam Backup & Replication creates a failover plan, which indicates:

    • VM switching sequence
    • The length of the pause between switchings (a pause is needed so that you do not accidentally start dependent VMs before the main VM — for example, the DNS server — is fully operational)

    The failover plan should be prepared in advance so that it can be quickly started in the event of a failure. At the beginning of the switch, you can choose at what point in time (in what state) to switch to replicas of the VM. Then Veeam Backup & Replication for each VM from the list will find its replica and will include replicas according to the plan settings.

    It is imperative to complete the final stage of the procedure - this can be either final fixation on the reserve site or reverse switching (for example, upon completion of maintenance / repair on the main site). You can read more about all this here (in Russian) .

    It is hard to imagine that serious organizations do not have a failover plan. Why, then, failures occur with such regularity? What makes it difficult to work on a plan?

    The need for thorough documentation

    The basis for successful planning is complete, up-to-date documentation. IT infrastructures are becoming larger and more complex, and they are constantly changing. Documenting all the important aspects of IT work manually is not very effective, and here we are faced with one of the possible reasons for the failure of the plan.

    Testing need

    Regular comprehensive testing helps you plan and carefully plan your failover and disaster recovery plans. This is especially important due to the complexity of building modern infrastructures - in particular those that are based on several sites. Add to this the importance of the potential outcome for the end user. However, the actual effectiveness of a plan often fails to pass due diligence.

    Regulatory requirements

    Planning and disaster recovery are closely related to regulations that govern compliance with data integrity, reliability and availability requirements. Although the requirements and norms differ for different industries, they are united by the obligation to fulfill. Failure to do so entails high reputational and financial risks.

    Why Veeam Availability Orchestrator is useful

    Veeam Availability Orchestrator reduces the cost of preparing and testing failover plans. The solution is designed to automate the processes of creating, documenting and testing a failover and recovery plan, which can be immediately sent for signature to management, and later presented to the inspectors or auditor.

    Assistance in documenting infrastructure

    The new solution helps to document infrastructure in accordance with audit and regulatory requirements. The product provides:

    • 4 custom reports based on templates, in a convenient format, ready for signing a guide
    • The ability to regularly update and publish
    • Automatically document all changes made

    Test Assistance

    Veeam Availability Orchestrator eliminates the load on your production infrastructure while testing your switch plan. In addition, you can reduce costs by saving on manual procedures and using the functionality of a new product, namely:

    • On-demand or scheduled tests
    • Receive real-time plan status reports
    • Regular testing of plan readiness without involving production systems and their users

    Plan Assistance

    The new solution helps manage VMware vSphere virtual machine replication with Veeam Backup & Replication. As part of this functionality, the following are supported:

    • Verification of virtual machines, applications and services (for example, Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange, IIS) during the switch, according to the specified startup sequence
    • Integration with other tools using the open API
    • Delegation and control of access to relevant resources

    What's inside

    Veeam Availability Orchestrator includes:

    • Veeam Availability Orchestrator
    • Veeam Backup & Replication Enterprise Plus (Integrated)
    • Veeam ONE (built-in)
    • Microsoft SQL Server Express

    Important! Embedded product editions are licensed only to support Veeam Availability Orchestrator (VAO) and are not intended to be fully functional in production environments. If you have already deployed Veeam Backup & Replication, then keep in mind that to work with the new solution, its version must be 9.5 Update 3 (and higher), and the Enterprise Plus edition, since the APIs necessary for integration with Veeam Availability Orchestrator are presented only in this edition. Note that the product cannot be installed on the same machine where Veeam Backup & Replication or Veeam ONE is already running.

    The interaction diagram of the components is shown in the figure below.

    All settings are made from the VAO server web console; The default protocol is HTTPS and port 9898.

    After setting up the roles and notifications, the administrator needs to perform the following steps on the VAO server:

    1. Add VMware and Veeam Backup & Replication servers (if not added during installation).
    2. Categorize and group VMs for which the switching plan will be executed - for example, using vCenter tags. More details on categorization are described here (in English).
    3. Activate the resulting VM groups.
    4. For each site, indicate which steps will need to be included in the plan.
    5. If you plan to use the test “sandbox” (and this is the familiar “virtual laboratory” working in Veeam Backup & Replication), then it will also need to be activated in the VAO console.
    6. Also, on any Veeam Backup & Replication server located on the backup site, you can configure the backup task to protect the replicas used during the switch. For such a task, the description must contain the text [VAO TEMPLATE] , and the task itself should not contain any VMs (you can simply create an empty folder and add it in the Virtual Machines step ).

    Then you can already create switch plans and add virtual machine groups to them.

    Created plans can be automatically checked, set the schedule of the scheduled switch, view the execution history, etc. In addition, the status of all plans can be monitored using a dashboard and custom reports:

    About licenses and cost

    The Veeam Availability Orchestrator license can be purchased as a 1-year subscription or at a discount for 2 to 5 years.

    Licenses are only required for those replicated VMs that require disaster recovery plans (minimum order quantity is 10 VMs), and not for all VMs protected by Veeam Availability Suite or Veeam Backup & Replication.
    One Veeam Availability Orchestrator license is purchased per VM. Details on prices can be found here .


    Product Description (in Russian)
    User Documentation (in English)
    Link for downloading a trial version
    Link for registering for a webinar (in English)

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