Hyper-V Replication Setup: Walkthrough

When trying to round out your disaster recovery plan, you will no doubt want to have a replicated copy of virtual machines located in a separate environment. Ideally, the environment would be geographically removed from the production site, ensuring its viability even if the latter is completely affected. With modern VM backup and replication solutions, replicating virtual machines to a different environment is easy to accomplish.

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Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor has gained a lot of traction among enterprise datacenters recently, having developed its technology significantly, especially with the release of Windows Server 2016. NAKIVO Backup & Replication shows itself to be a powerful solution capable of interacting with Hyper-V environments for both backing up AND replicating Hyper-V virtual machines, so you should consider using it in your data protection plan. The full-featured Free Trial of the product can be downloaded at this link. This article will walk through how Hyper-V replication is accomplished using NAKIVO Backup & Replication.

Hyper-V Replication with NAKIVO Backup & Replication

To perform Hyper-V replication, you first need to configure your Hyper-V hosts – both the production and DR environments. In the example below, we are replicating Hyper-V virtual machines from a production environment to a designated DR site. It is worth noting that, as shown below, you can manage multiple hypervisors from the Inventory tab of the web interface of NAKIVO Backup & Replication.

Two Hyper-V environments added to the NAKIVO inventory

Once you have the Hyper-V environments configured, you need to launch the Hyper-V replication wizard. Under the Create menu >> Replication, select Microsoft Hyper-V replication job.

Launching the New Replication Job Wizard for Microsoft Hyper-V

In Step 1 (VMs), you need to select the virtual machines you want to replicate to another environment. Note that in the example below, we selected an individual virtual machine within our production environment.

Selecting an individual Hyper-V virtual machine for replication

With the wizard, you can also choose to replicate virtual machines at the host level by ticking the checkbox next to the host/cluster. When you do so, you will see in the information pane that “New items created on or moved to the source host will be automatically added to this job”. This is a useful feature that allows you to automatically have Hyper-V replication set up for any new virtual machines you add to your source environment.

Replicating virtual machines at the host level

In Step 2 (Destination), you will need to identify the target Hyper-V environment, including the destination Path and Network. The Path selected in the example below is the one we set in our Hyper-V settings to store our virtual machine replicas and configuration files. Additionally, you will need to select the target network for the replicated virtual machine in the destination Hyper-V host/cluster.

Configuring the destination options for Hyper-V replication

In Step 3 (Schedule), you need to set up the schedule on which you want to perform replication of your Hyper-V virtual machine. Note the Add another schedule and Show calendar options.

Setting up a schedule for the Hyper-V replication job

A powerful feature of NAKIVO Backup & Replication is the ability to set up job chaining. Job chaining allows you to link one job with another one, as for Hyper-V replication, you may need to chain a replication job to a backup job. In the screenshot below, we have the Run after another job option selected and the corresponding backup job chosen. With these settings, after a successful backup job, the product will immediately kick off the replication job for your Hyper-V virtual machine.

Using job chaining to link a Hyper-V replication job to a backup job

If you click the Show calendar link, you can see the new Calendar interface of NAKIVO Backup & Replication, which is a great way to get a visual overview of all jobs scheduled. You can also create and edit jobs, including Hyper-V replication jobs, right from this interface.

Using the Calendar interface to view your job schedule

With this software, you can also set up multiple schedules for a Hyper-V replication job by clicking the Add another schedule link. This allows you to create different schedules for different days of the week, which is something that many businesses might appreciate if they experience variations in working hours and/or typical activity. In the example below, we have a different schedule set up for weekdays vs. the weekend.

Using multiple job schedules in NAKIVO Backup & Replication

In Step 4 (Retention) you can determine how many recovery points will be kept. These equate to checkpoints in Hyper-V on the replicated virtual machine.

Setting up the retention policy for Hyper-V replication

Below, we have an example of the checkpoint existing on the Hyper-V replica virtual machine once it is created. The chain of checkpoints will grow to the value of the “Keep <N> last recovery points”.

Recovery points exist as checkpoints on the Hyper-V replica virtual machine

Finally, in Step 5 (Options), you are given many interesting options showcasing the power and versatility of NAKIVO Backup & Replication. On the Options screen, you can configure the following settings for your Hyper-V replication job:

  • App-aware mode – This mode allows you to maintain transactional consistency on your Hyper-V replica. You might want to use this mode if you are replicating, for instance, a Microsoft SQL Server virtual machine.
  • Change trackingHyper-V RCT was introduced with Windows Server 2016 and allows you to perform efficient changed block tracking, i.e., recording only the changes that are made between each backup iteration, without using a filter driver.
  • Network acceleration – This option allows you to compress and reduce traffic between transporters and, thus, increase data transfer speeds by up to 2X.
  • Encryption – You can control whether you want the transferred data to be encrypted in flight.
  • Replica disks – You can replicate the source VM settings here, if you select “Respect original VM disk type”. You can also select to use “dynamic disks”, which is essentially thin provisioning the resulting Hyper-V replica virtual machine.

Aside from the above-mentioned options, you can control the naming of your replica virtual machines, opt to receive job completion reports via email, truncate SQL Server and Exchange transaction logs, and choose to execute local pre- and/or post-job scripts.

Configuring Options of the Hyper-V replication job

Click the Finish & Run button.

In your Hyper-V Manager, you can see a Temporary checkpoint of the source virtual machine being replicated.

Creation of Hyper-V temporary checkpoint of source virtual machine

In the NAKIVO Backup & Replication web console, you can see the Speed and Transferred Data bars showing the progress of taking snapshots and preparing for data transfer.

Speed and Transferred Data progress bars

During the Hyper-V replication job, you will see the resulting replica virtual machine created in the destination Hyper-V environment.

Hyper-V replica virtual machine created

Additionally, if you have SMTP configured and the “Send reports on each job completion” option selected in Step 5, once your Hyper-V replication job is complete, you will receive a notification email showing the job results.

NAKIVO Backup & Replication notification email with Hyper-V replication results

Concluding Thoughts

Hyper-V Replication is a crucial part of your data protection plan. It allows you to place a replica environment in a different geographical location to protect against data loss in the event of a site-wide failure or disaster. NAKIVO Backup & Replication provides you with a powerful and intuitive way to perform Hyper-V replication of your virtual machines from a production Hyper-V environment to a separate Hyper-V environment. Additionally, the product gives you many options to tailor Hyper-V replication jobs to your individual needs, including encryption, application-aware mode, and network acceleration. While Hyper-V has limited replication functionality working out of the box, NAKIVO Backup & Replication provides a better and easier way to replicate Hyper-V virtual machines with minimal configuration required.

Try it today: download the best free VM replication solution for Hyper-V or request a live demonstration of NAKIVO Backup & Replication.

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