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Oct
14
Storage replication: Can it work for SMB’s?
Posted by Third Tier on 14 October 2014 01:51 PM

What would a small business use Windows Server Storage Replication for?

What Microsoft says, “Storage Replica (SR) is a new feature that enables storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between clusters or servers for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster for high availability. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes ensuring zero data loss at the file system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss.”

The purpose is to replication storage volumes, not entire servers, to another server. Any volume with a page file will fail to replicate and the system volume will also fail. So when you think about Storage Replication believe what it says, storage only.

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What could we use this for in SMB then? Well let’s say we have a CAD server and it’s critical that the data that server contains remains accessible at all times. A CAD server is really generally just a file storage server. So for continuity purposes we could use Storage Replication to replicate the data volume over to another server in our network. In case the CAD server should fail we can could mount this replicated storage location into an existing virtual machine and map a drive to the new location for our users. This mapped drive could even be pre-staged for them in an existing group policy.

Prior to Storage Replication what would we do? Well we could backup and restore (cheap but slow) or we could use hyper-v replication and replicate the whole server to another hyper-v parent (fast but expensive). Now we have a third choice and this third choice sit right in the middle between better than backup but not quite as good as a full server replication as far as speed to recovery goes but I suspect that because of the cost savings we’ll see a lot of Storage Replication deployments.

If you haven’t looked at Storage Replication yet look at this article in TechNet: Technical Preview Step-by-Step Guide: Storage Replica It has a nice step-by-step lab. Also included in this paper is information on Stretch Cluster Storage Replication if you are into clustering your servers the technology is interesting but perhaps beyond the reach of the majority of small business customers.

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Jan
9
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Two Smaller Servers Over One Big One
Posted by Philip Elder on 09 January 2014 02:01 PM

Original Post Here: MPECS Inc. Blog: Windows Server 2012 R2 and Two Smaller Servers Over One Big One

Having some thoughts on designing client’s IT solutions to provide a relatively simple setup that allows for business to continue on in the event of a hardware failure.

Windows Server 2012 R2 gives us a few more options to facilitate business continuity.

Two smaller servers running their workloads allows for a number of different scenarios for recoverability:

  • Hyper-V Replica
    • For obvious reasons
  • DHCP Failover (built-in, run the wizard after installing the DHCP Role on two systems)
    • Very easy to do and gives clients full DHCP if one box goes down (no need to flip a switch somewhere else to enable DHCP)
    • Shares all Scope Options and Reservations between the two

Some of the benefits of this setup are:

  • AD is covered in the event of a full-stop
    • Hiccups can be taken care of by Burflags and/or AD Recycle Bin
    • AD continues despite one server going full-stop
  • File services and LoBs come back online when replica failover kicks in
  • A good backup regimen with restore tests allow flexibility (ShadowProtect)

Our preference has grown into having two key resources duplicated:
•    AD/DNS/DHCP across two separate VMs (2x servers)
•    Hyper-V Replica for VM hosting files and key LoBs

That folks is a poor man’s/woman’s “Cluster” setup.

Yes, there is a bit of extra cost involved for the licensing side of things. And, there may be a price difference on the hardware side of things.

But, when we look at the lifetime of the solution and take that extra cost we can then draw up a dollar amount per user per month using a 36 or 48 month amortization table (or even 60 month if five year warranty) and justify it as the cost of insurance relative to business stoppage costs. This works for us pretty much every time! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft Cluster MVP
MPECS Inc.
Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

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