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Windows Server 2012 Technology Primer : Improvements for Continuous Availability (part 2) - Hyper-V Replication

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Hyper-V Replication

Another new technology built-in to Windows Server 2012 is called Hyper-V Replication. Hyper-V Replication, shown in Figure 1, allows a cluster node to replicate Hyper-V guest sessions from one server to another server, typically across a WAN providing site redundancy. If a server in one site fails, the guest sessions in a site that has been replicated can be brought up in another site. This concept has been realized over the past couple years through the use of SAN snapshots, where data is replicated from one server to another using expensive storage hardware. However, with Hyper-V Replication, no SAN is required for data replication. In fact, all the technology needed to initiate Hyper-V Replication is a source Hyper-V host server and a destination Hyper-V host server. Just pointing the source to the destination server can begin the replication of Hyper-V guest sessions between hosts.

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Figure 1. Hyper-V Replication between host systems.

Because Hyper-V Replication does not require SAN snapshots or other fancy hardware, it makes the entry into site replication a low-cost and simple task. With Windows Server 2012, continuous availability now extends between sites; so, beyond local clustering and high availability, organizations can now do disaster recovery and business continuity with site-level guest session replication. 

Cluster-Aware Updating

With clustering as a major component of many of the continuous availability technologies, the ability to patch and update the cluster nodes without interruption to network services becomes important for continuous availability. New in Windows Server 2012 is Cluster-Aware Updating (CAU), which enables, as part of the patching and updating process, a method for cluster nodes to have network services failed over, get patched and updated, and failed back to an operational state. The CAU process simplifies updates and minimizes system operations downtime during critical patches and update cycles. 

Improved Support for SANs

Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 support for storage-area networks (SANs) by providing enhanced mechanisms for connecting to SANs and switching between SAN nodes. In the past, a connection to a SAN was a static connection, meaning that a server was connected to a SAN just as if the server were physically connected to a direct-attached storage system. However, the concept of a SAN is that if a SAN fails, the server should reconnect to a SAN device that is now online. This could not be easily done with Windows 2003 or earlier. SCSI bus resets were required to disconnect a server from one SAN device to another.

With Windows Server 2012, a server can be associated with a SAN with a persistent reservation to access a specific shared disk; however, if the SAN fails, the server session can be logically connected to another SAN target system without having to script device resets that have been complicated and disruptive in disaster recovery scenarios.

 
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