Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Replication Made Easy with Nimble Storage - Replication Made Easy with Nimble Storage

Hi Friends,

Today I'm going to show you how easy it is to replicate your volumes/data/virtual machines on ESXi, etc. with Nimble Storage, with the added bonus of compression and snapshots too!

1.  First we'll need to create a replication schedule and if you've been reading my blog you'll remember we did that in a previous article when I was showing you how to create a volume.  If you don't create a replication schedule right when you're creating your volume, never fear, you can always select your volume and click on Edit at any time.

2.  When your replication has run you'll see the replication status on the Volume information page will show you when the last replica was taken.

3.  If you want more information about the replication, click on the Replication tab at the top of the page.

4.  Let's jump over to the array that received the volume and take a look under volumes.  Here I've already clicked on the replicated volume.  Down in the lower left corner you can see here that the replication partner is the array I first showed you.  In the upper right hand corner notice that the status is Offline and a replica.

Okay, great so what now?  Well, you've now got replication from Point A to Point B that is on a schedule and will continue to update itself.  The nice thing is the compression you were getting at Point A is sent over to Point B just as it is, so no re-compression needed.  You can do a bunch of things now.  You can either claim this replica and bring it online, but if you do that, you'll break your replication.  What I prefer is to clone off the replica and work on that image.

6.  Click on the Snapshot tab in the upper right hand corner and then click Clone.

7.  Give the clone a name and you're done!

8.  Go back to your Volumes page and you should see the replica and your new volume.  Notice the new volume is not using any space!  Pretty cool huh?

From here what you do with this data is really going to depend on what application you're using.  Is this a database, application, virtual environment, etc. etc. etc.?  Disaster Recovery is a science all in it's own.  But since I've got an ESXi environment handy, how about I bring this clone into my vCenter environment?

9.  So first we need to bring the new volume online and edit it.

10.  We add an initiator group to this new volume and you can protect it too if you want.

11.  I've gone to my vCenter environment and scanned for new storage and then selected to add new storage.  Notice the name of IQN.

12.  This next step is a really nice feature in VMware.  One of the biggest problems with copying volumes is the identification remains the same.  It's like cloning a person, how do you tell who's who?  VMware has a nice feature that assigns a new signature so you can mount both volumes up at the same time.  This is only a problem for me because I'm using the same vCenter.  If you were replicating between vCenters, you wouldn't have this problem.

13.  Finish up adding your storage and then you should see a variation of your volume mounted up now.

14.  Now if I right click on the datastore, I can browse it and mount up any virtual machines that live in there.

15.  Here I'm adding my replica machine to the inventory and giving it a new name.

As I mentioned earlier, you really wouldn't do a replication and mount up the image in the same vCenter.  If you wanted to do that you can use one of the snapshots on the local array instead, but I wanted to show you how easy it is to replicate from one Nimble array to another since replication in the past was not an easy thing to do.

I hope you enjoyed this demonstration on Nimble replication.

Until Next Time!


  1. Is it possible to have multiple replication partners?

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the question! You can replicate multiple hosts to one host using volume collection, but you can't replicate one host to many.


  3. Hi Neil,

    Great blog, I am a Nimble Storage fans, just read nimble documentation about replication, but still do not know exactly how does Nimble`s replication work, what is replica, promote, demote, handover, claim. What`s the correlation between replication and volume collection. Is it possible to replicate a specific volume on upstream device manually.

    Really appreciated if you can help explain those things. Thanks in advance