EMC is announcing RecoverPoint for VMs at VMworld 2014 and I was able to sneak in some exclusive conversation time with EMC Chief Technology Officer for the Data Mobility Business Unit (RecoverPoint & VPLEX) – Assaf Natanzon. He oversees the RecoverPoint and VPLEX product technology teams and has a lot going on from a Software Defined IT standpoint.
I have only seen the team grow and push out highly successful products so it is all the more intriguing to understand where the innovation comes from, how is it sustained, and what the vision is. Being an IT professional myself and especially an EMC customer it matters all the more to me that the products meet the user expectations and personally have extremely high expectations from EMC as a leader in their industry.
This is the first time I had met Assaf and he came across as a very enthusiastic individual with a lot of energy. Just like the technical conversation I had with Yossi Saad (EMC Sr. Director of VPLEX & RecoverPoint Product Management) at last year’s VMworld, Assaf was also very forthcoming with details when I mentioned I have personally been part of EMC’s Technical Advisory Panel on RecoverPoint & VPLEX.
With most things out in the open with a formal announcement from EMC here are the key details. For more direct information please watch the short video (5 minutes).
What is Project Mercury and how does it enhance the data protection landscape
Assaf – Project Mercury is RecoverPoint for VMs. A fully virtualized solution which enables data protection and replication at a single virtual machine level. The solution has all the RecoverPoint features and is built on the RecoverPoint technology that has close to 250 million hours of operational usage.
What’s your role in Project Mercury’s vision and innovation
Assaf – I was one of the innovators and active proponents of Project Mercury. I was one of the enablers over the past couple of years to bring this technology forward. We worked with VMware over several iterations and it took serious shape in the last 1.5 years. With virtualization of software being key and the software defined IT being a strong focus it is part of my role to move the vision in this direction. Data Protection for cloud providers is also an important requirement and Project Mercury is the 1st step in this direction.
Why do you think EMC needs to continuously evolve the product – we had the appliances earlier, then the RecoverPoint vRPA, and now RecoverPoint for VMs
Assaf – We have RecoverPoint Virtual Edition for VNX. However, RecoverPoint for VMs is a storage agnostic, fully virtualized solution which works at the VM level to enable protection of virtual machines with a few clicks of a button, and managed directly from vCenter. This is the right direction for EMC and a major step towards software defined data protection, which aligns with VMware and EMC vision of software defined technologies.
How does the EMC engineering team go about identifying the user requirements around gathering feedback. More importantly, how can existing EMC customers provide you with feedback
Assaf – We have been talking to a lot of customers gathering requirements. We have customer advisory panels and majority of the customers demanded a hypervisor – specifically VM level replication. Customers can always provide feedback to us, either directly if they are part of our Beta program, or through their EMC representatives who will provide the feedback to us, or schedule a meeting with us for a direct conversation.
What are the prominent use cases around RecoverPoint for VMs
Assaf – The main use case is data replication for disaster recovery and business continuity, whether internal within the customer’s on-premise environment, or in a hybrid cloud scenario. Another important use case is operational recovery, enabling customers to go back in time and recover data before a logical corruption occurred.
Is there a focus on simplifying IT or is RecoverPoint for VMs more about getting the job done.
Assaf – It’s all about simplifying IT and having everything software defined. Make it easier to use, better control from customer perspective, and all about No Limits.
Last question, do you anticipate doing any customer meetings or demos around RecoverPoint for VMs in US and Canada.
Assaf – We are meeting a lot of customers. Our customers are awaiting the beta eagerly. The product will be released soon so we will be having plenty of discussions. We will also discuss it in various forums, such as EMC Forums, user groups etc.
If an existing customer wants to use it – we want to clarify it’s a different product. We have a virtual appliance which runs in vSphere. The splitter runs at hypervisor level running on ESXi and the vCenter plugin lets you manage the whole solution without requiring a separate UI. RecoverPoint for VMs is licensed per VM. The deployment is simple and involves an OVF deployment with a wizard setup.
RP cluster can have 128 Consistency groups and can be deployed in vCenter. Need to deploy minimum 2 (for high availability) and maximum of 8 (for maximum performance) virtual appliances at each site for failover and availability. A single RecoverPoint for VMs cluster can handle multiple ESXi clusters, and is not required to be installed in each of them, nor on each ESX host..
It does not integrate with VMware SRM, since the SRM public API support only LUNs, and not VM granularity. We have our own site recovery orchestration solution that is included with the product, where you can configure recovery plans and failover. The concept of protecting data per LUN or datastore is no longer applicable and finer granularity is achieved. It also saves on disk space because previously you had to create multiple datastores in order to achieve storage efficiency.
Nevertheless, it is important to note however, that there are situation where our customers prefer to have replication at the array level, for different reasons – e.g. if they have non-VMware servers, have high replication density where they want to replicate most or all of their environment etc. It is best to consult the EMC specialist to fit the best solution to the business needs.
Many thanks to Assaf once again for talking to me and sharing these important details on RecoverPoint for VMs.