MV/S consistency groups and multiple secondary images

I recently completed a migration for a client from a CX3-20 to a CX4-240. I’d done similar work for them in the past, moving their primary site from a CX500 to a CX4-240. This time things were simpler, as the secondary site I was working on contained primarily replicas of LUNs from the primary site. For those LUNs that weren’t mirrors, I used either Incremental SAN Copy, or sVMotion to migrate the data. The cool thing about MirrorView/Synchronous on the CLARiiON is that you can send replicas from one source to multiple (2) targets. As my client was understandably nervous about the exposure of not having current replicas if there was a problem, we decided that adding a secondary image on the CX4 and waiting for it to synchronize before removing the CX3 image would be the safest. The minor issue was that most of these LUNs were in MirrorView Consistency groups. If you’ve played with VMware’s Site Recovery Manager, you’ll know what these are. But for those of you that don’t, let me drop a little knowledge.

Consistency Groups are in essence a group of secondary images on a CLARiiON that are treated as a single entity. As a result of this treatment, the remote images are consistent, but may contain information that is ever so slightly older than information on the primary images. The thinking behind this is fairly obvious – you don’t want your SQL database LUN to be out of sync with the SQL logs LUN, in the same way that you wouldn’t want the Exchange mailbox LUN to be out of sync with the transaction logs. That would be silly. And it would make recovery in the event of a site failure really difficult. And thus Consistency Groups were born. Hooray.

But there are a few rules that you need to follow with Consistency Groups:

  • Up to 16 groups per CLARiiON;
  • Up to 16 mirrors per group;
  • Primary image LUNs must all be on the same CLARiiON;
  • Secondary image LUNs must all be on the same CLARiiON;
  • Images must be of the same type (you can’t mix sync and async in the same group);
  • Operations happen on all mirrors at the same time.

As I mentioned previously, you can have 1:2 LUN:replica ratio when using MV/S. Unfortunately, when Consistency Groups are in use, the ratio goes back to 1:1. So our precautionary strategy for replica migration was already under pressure. As well as this, we couldn’t have multiple CLARiiONs providing replica images in the same consistency group. The only option that my tired brain could really think of was to remove the replicas from the Consistency Groups, re-sync the new replicas with the primary copies, and then add the new replicas into the Consistency Groups. By using this methodology, we risked having inconsistent volumes on a host, but we didn’t have the risk of not having replicas at all. If any one has a better approach, I’d love to hear about it.