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When does hypervisor-based replication make the most sense?

Brien Posey examines when hypervisor replication is a better choice than software- or array-based replication.

The first thing to understand about hypervisor replication is that every vendor does things a little bit differently....

Generally speaking, hypervisor-based replication works by replicating virtual machines (VMs) from one host server or host cluster to another. Some hypervisors also support three-way replication.

Hypervisor replication has two main advantages over storage replication:

  • It is specifically designed for VMs. This means a hypervisor replication feature makes it very easy to fail over to the replica if something happens to the primary copy of the virtual machine. Such a failover could be accomplished with storage replication, but it may not be quite as seamless.
  • It is hardware-agnostic. This is especially helpful for organizations that run VMs on low-end hardware because the hypervisor-based replication feature allows a VM to be replicated to a secondary server even if the organization does not have storage hardware that natively supports replication.
Generally speaking, hypervisor-based replication works by replicating virtual machines from one host server or host cluster to another.

But storage replication has its advantages. In some situations, for example, it may offer lower latency than hypervisor-based replication. Storage replication also occurs at the storage hardware level rather than the server level. This means host server resources such as memory and CPU are not consumed by the replication process.

Storage replication may also prove to be more efficient than hypervisor replication. Hypervisors such as Microsoft's Hyper-V can compress data prior to replication, but storage arrays may have deduplication engines or stronger compression algorithms designed to replicate more data in less time.

Next Steps

Compare replication options for your environment

Consider a multi-hypervisor platform

Review how hypervisor-based replication works in vSphere and Hyper-V

This was last published in April 2015

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