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Using VMs for physical server disaster recovery

One of the advantages of a virtual infrastructure is the ability to cost effectively replicate your production systems to a secondary disaster recovery environment. Not only can you do this with virtual machines, but there are now several options available to allow physical servers to be replicated to a stand-by VM. This post will briefly cover several products and solutions and provide multiple commercial options and a free alternative.

Platespin Forge

If you are looking for an entire VI DR environment in a box then Platespin Forge is your answer.

PlateSpin Forge is a purpose-built consolidated recovery hardware appliance that protects both physical and virtual server workloads using embedded virtualization technology. In the event of a production server outage or disaster, workloads can be rapidly powered on in the PlateSpin Forge recovery environment and continue to run as normal until the production environment is restored.

The PlateSpin Forge appliance ships with prepackaged storage, consolidated recovery software and virtualization technology that is ready to go out-of-the-box. The standard configuration protects 25 server workloads up to a total of 2.5 terabytes of data. For larger implementations, multiple appliances can be deployed.

By dramatically reducing the time and specialized technical resources required to plan, provision, deploy and test a recovery environment, PlateSpin Forge puts workload protection and recovery within reach for small and medium-sized businesses as well as departments or branch locations within larger enterprises. With PlateSpin Forge, organizations can begin reliably protecting their physical and virtual workloads in a matter of hours as opposed to months.

You can go to Platespin’s Forge web page where you can check out a webinar and find out more about the appliance. Interestingly, the products specifications page describes the appliance software as “embedded virtualization technology”.

Platespin PowerConvert

If you are like me, you probably first heard about Platespin’s PowerConvert as an alternative for doing p2v migrations. In reality, PowerConvert is can be more than just a one time conversion tool. Along with Platespin’s imageing capabilities, server recovery can be accomplished using PowerConvert to continuously replicate data to a virtual machine.

PowerConvert provides a range of workload protection alternatives in a single product for maximum flexibility. Data centers can choose between flexible image backup and hardware-independent restore or consolidated recovery using virtual infrastructure and whole server workload replication. By using virtual infrastructure as a recovery platform, organizations can better protect a larger percentage of data center workloads without having to invest in costly duplicate hardware or redundant operating system licenses. In addition to file-based replication, high-speed block-level transfer enables enterprise customers to protect transactional workloads, such as mail and database servers, where point-in-time transactional information, configuration settings and data must be maintained. Efficient incremental transfers ensure that only changes to source data files are replicated to the target environment, minimizing network usage.

Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery

Symantec has combined their former Livestate Recovery product with Backup Exec and added some new recovery options for recovery to a virtual environment.

Leverages the power of virtualization, enabling seamless physical to virtual (P2V) and virtual to physical (V2P) conversions for VMware ESX Server, VMware Server (formerly GSX Server), VMware Workstation, and Microsoft Virtual Server disk formats. Convert entire systems at once or selective volumes at a time.

  • Easy-to-use, intuitive virtual conversion wizard simplifies the conversion process
  • Now supports VMware ESX Server and Microsoft Virtual Server
  • Perform preflight testing of patches, installations, etc. in the virtual environment before applying changes to production systems

Vizioncore vRanger P2V-DR

I previously posted about vRanger’s new feature P2V-DR. Vizioncore’s new module captures the server image while the server is live, and those images are converted for restoring the image to a VM.


Frane Borozan over at sent me an email last week asking me to check out his site that explains a pretty slick implementation of physical server disaster recovery using the free versions of a few VMware tools. Using VMWare Server, VMWare Converter, and some scripting Fran outlines a detailed implementation of his p2vbackup solution. Be sure to check out his physical to virtual backup and restore site.


Of course there are many other possibilities and products not discussed in this post – For example clustering, or host based replication products like Double Take and Marathon, are some quick ideas that come to mind. The flexibility of disaster recovery to a virtual environment can be achieved relatively inexpensively compared to the cost of building a similar physical infrastructure.

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