Artisan Infrastructure improves VMware vCenter Server support in its IT Continuity Engine

VMware’s decision to stop OEMing the Artisan’s Neverfail technology for VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat has led Artisan to provide such capabilities in its core product, including application protection for vCloud Server Virtual Machines.

Michael Wrightson, Artisan

Michael Wrightston, Product Manager, IT Continuity Engine, Artisan Infrastructure

Artisan Infrastructure has announced enhancements to its IT Continuity Engine (ITCE) to improve its usability, including strengthening support for VMware vCenter Server. ITCE provides continuous availability of Windows systems.

The ITCE was acquired with Neverfail in a transaction which was announced last April. While Artisan indicated then that the primarily objective of the acquisition was to use the Neverfail Business Continuity-as-a-Service technology in Artisan’s Cloud Architect platform’s DR Cloud Solution Marketplace, they also indicated they would support Neverfail’s existing customer base. One of their key customers was VMware, which OEMed Neverfail technology in VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat – an agreement VMware has now ended. Artisan Infrastructure has now expanded the functionality of its own engine to provide that functionality to VMware customers, and protect applications running on virtual machines from downtime due to application, server, network, storage or site failures.

“Vcenter Heartbeat was Neverfail under the covers,” said Michael Wrightston, Product Manager, IT Continuity Engine at Artisan Infrastructure. “They OEMed it years ago, but decided that they wanted to get out of OEMing. It was a business decision they made, but their customers still want the protection, even though VMware will still support it until 2018. Customers come to us now and say that they need the gap filled.”

Wrightson said that the VMware OEM kit was always a little different from the regular product.

“We have integrated it into the engine and made enhancements to support all versions,” he said.

In VMware vCenter Server environments, the ITCE works to eliminate data loss, ensuring a near-zero recovery point objective by proactively detecting and remediating failure signatures in protected applications before they cause downtime. The ITCE also allows for the complete orchestration of site failovers for critical applications and business services in case of a site outage. It also provides for seamless switchback to the primary infrastructure once the original concern has been remediated.

“It is very fast, very efficient and automated to tackle a complex process,” Wrightson stated. “It also has a very deep integration with VMware.”

The OEM customers are one of three ways ITCE goes to market.

“We also sell direct to customers, and have many partners hosted on our infrastructure, who OEM it to provide a white-labelled service,” Wrightson noted. “It is designed so it’s easily white labelled. The primary target market is the midtier.”

This release continues recent efforts to make the technology as easy as possible to deploy and use.

“This release is all about usability, making it a lot easier to deploy,” Wrightson said. “Partners are demanding this usability, and a technology they can easily brand themselves. A year ago, we had a technology that you had to install on primary server, and clone it over, and install software on it. In the last year, we moved to a more centralized management infrastructure and automated deployment model, which is all web-based with point and click.”

In this release, the management is simplified further through an enhanced UI, in which wizards improving workflow speed setup and ensures proper installation. With native tertiary protection, ITCE now offers the option of a tertiary three node (trio) out of the box for third party sites. ITCE real-time application monitoring has been integrated with vSphere HA Clusters, so that virtual clusters become application-aware and can remediate applications with performance issues before they fail and cause downtime.

“We have also made backend improvements, including more robust networking options,” Wrightson said. “These include the ability to deploy on different types of networking, and enhanced packet filtering capabilities.”

Wrightson also noted that further big things are in the not too distant future.

“The acquisition of Neverfail brought new talented developers in house to build out a more comprehensive strategy for cloud services. We started to build out a cloud management platform, and that is in the process of being built as we speak. In the near future, we will also be offering DR-as-a-Service based on this engine. It will be here at some point next year.”