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Enterprise storage management and application availability for Azure VMware Solution

My colleague @Anthony_Sunny has recently completed testing Veritas InfoScale Enterprise with Microsoft’s Azure VMware Solution (AVS) and we created this blog to share the details.

Private cloud solutions such as AVS are becoming increasingly attractive options for running mission-critical applications.  AVS provides the usability, infrastructure, and resource flexibility these critical applications require, with the advanced functionality and usability of an enterprise cloud platform. Are you looking at AVS as a target environment for your mission-critical applications? If so, you need InfoScale! 

Veritas InfoScale is a software-defined optimization solution for mission-critical applications that abstracts applications from their underlying hardware and software resources. That abstraction enables enterprise-grade optimizations around business continuity, performance, and infrastructure agility across physical, virtual, and cloud environments.

While AVS offers excellent infrastructure SLA’s, it’s essential to understand that it’s not application-aware and does not eliminate the risk of application downtime or data loss. InfoScale helps minimize these risks and mitigates single points of failure in AVS environments to keep your applications up and running all the time.

InfoScale for AVS

InfoScale provides advanced storage management and high availability for applications running in AVS, with a user experience that is very similar to a standard VMware vSphere environment.  By using InfoScale in AVS environments, you get:

  • Application high availability – InfoScale protects against host failures, hardware failures, OS crashes, and application failures.  Veritas Cluster Server (VCS) offers several high availability topologies and can manage large clusters to ensure maximum application uptime.  VCS virtual-to-virtual or in-guest clustering provides high availability for applications running inside the vSphere guests.
  • Advanced storage management – InfoScale virtualizes any storage available to cluster nodes and allows for customizable resiliency using RAID and erasure coding.  InfoScale can replicate data to remote sites, create snapshots, manage dynamic multipathing to the storage layer, and has features that allow you to move and copy application data efficiently.  InfoScale’s advanced Cluster File System (CFS) with Flexible Storage Sharing (FSS) can eliminate the need for shared SAN storage and provide improved performance at a reduced cost compared to traditional SAN environments.

InfoScale is installed on each guest operating system running on virtual machines in AVS to provide both application-aware and infrastructure-level high availability and resiliency.

Using InfoScale in AVS Environments

InfoScale ensures that issues affecting application availability are identified instantly using InfoScale’s Intelligent Monitoring Framework, which provides kernel-level event-based notification of application and system faults. This requires almost no system overhead and significantly reduces application downtime and the risk of data corruption. 

As a software-defined solution, InfoScale provides excellent flexibility to support many different highly available application deployment architectures. There are several configuration options available with InfoScale in AVS environments.

The first option is where the application data itself resides on the Veritas File System (VxFS), which allows it to be available on one of the cluster nodes at any given time in an active-passive configuration.  This is shown in Figure 1. In the case of an InfoScale cluster node failure, the storage infrastructure uses VxFS to re-associate each application volume to a surviving node. The VMDK disks on which the volumes reside will also be detached and subsequently re-attached to the same targeted node. Upon completing this storage resource transition, any service or application impacted by the outage will be brought back online.

Figure 1. Using Veritas VMware Disk Agent for High Availability of VMware within AVSFigure 1. Using Veritas VMware Disk Agent for High Availability of VMware within AVS

With the second option, you can have the application data reside on an InfoScale CFS. This is shown in figure 2.  Using CFS, your data is available on all the cluster nodes concurrently, in an active-active configuration. If a node fails, only those applications monitored by a VCS agent will failover to an available node in the cluster.

Figure 2. Using Cluster File System for high availability within AVSFigure 2. Using Cluster File System for high availability within AVS

The third option is to configure the application in fast failover mode using InfoScale’s Flexible Storage Sharing solution.  This is shown in figure 3. FSS eliminates the need for traditional shared storage by allowing data in local system disks to be shared across the cluster network using InfoScale’s Low Latency Transport (LLT) protocol.  Cluster nodes with un-used local disks can share these resources across the cluster heartbeat network, thereby creating a shared namespace that can be leveraged by all nodes in the cluster.

Figure 3. Using Flexible Storage Sharing for high availability within AVSFigure 3. Using Flexible Storage Sharing for high availability within AVS

Since InfoScale is installed on the guest operating systems of the VMs running in AVS, no additional installation and configuration beyond what is indicated in the Veritas InfoScale 7.4.2 Installation Guide - Linux guide is required to deploy Veritas InfoScale on AVS.  For a detailed list of VMware versions that InfoScale supports, see the “Virtual Systems Compatibility” section of the InfoScale  Software Compatibility List (SCL) available here.

Summary

InfoScale is a proven solution for managing application availability and has evolved to become a premier software-defined platform for managing both storage and high availability in cloud environments. In AVS, InfoScale can provide several benefits not available natively that provide the functionality and confidence needed to use AVS as a target environment for applications with the most demanding performance and uptime requirements.

For more detailed information on the requirements and recommendations for the configuration of InfoScale in a VMware infrastructure, see the reference architecture paper by clicking here.

For more information on InfoScale, please check out the following whitepaper: Veritas InfoScale: Managing Mission-Critical Applications in a Software-defined Data Center.

You can also find additional InfoScale information and resources in the InfoScale technical library.