I had this question from a reader asking whether is better to set up replication or backup. In fact, this question is pretty interesting when you think. If you have backup software installed in your environment and you do your daily backups, that's fine. But what would be different whether you'd have your backup software set only doing replication jobs? Are there any advantages or inconveniences? We'll try to answer this.
This is not a guide for anyone, just some thoughts on the data protection process that exists in many companies, small shops. However, don't take this as a best practice or something like that. This is rather a small rambling for SMB or tiny shops running small virtualization solutions. In fact, many admins do not use replication because it's a less known function that came later to many backup software products. It wasn't here since day one.
Nakivo is one of the backup vendors to be able to replicate VMs from your main datacenter/cluster to another location that can be either on the other side of the city or country. However, you can also have a replication set up for the same building where are you located, simply maintaining shadow copies of your VMs that are ready to be spun up in case one of your production VMs gets corrupted. Nakivo can back up and replicate VMs from VMware ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V (and you can also export disk files from one format to another).
To fully understand what's happening during replication it is fairly simple. Each replication interval that can be very low or not depending on your RTO requirements, a chunk of data is sent to the remote site (to the remote ESXi or Hyper-V host) where the changes on the virtual disks are merged so they match the original VM.
Imagine having a replication of VMs set to each hour. This would be 24 changes a day which has to be sent to the other location, and this means that you can lose at maximum 1h of your work in case there is a problem in the main datacenter. Ever. Pretty cool, isn't it?
One day you come to work and find out that all your production VMs are down, scrambled, hit by some ransomware. All you have to do is to connect to the remote ESXi host and start-up the VMs that sits there being just powered off. If your main data center was compromised, most likely the last recovery merge is just fine and you'll be up and running in seconds.
How do I actually recover?
The destination VMs (also called replicas) is in standby mode. They are simply VMs registered on ESXi or Hyper-V hosts, but they're powered off. By simply connecting to the remote host, you can start them up and have them up and running in seconds.
In order to have replication in place, you have to be running a secondary ESXi or Hyper-V host at the remote location, and this infrastructure usually does only that – hosting VMs that are in standby mode. You can say that this infrastructure is only wasting energy and place, but you can think of it as a backup solution actually….
Archiving – very important
Yes, you can. You can keep one recovery point per day for X days or keep one recovery point for x weeks/months/year. No difference with backups, actually…
There are many backup strategies that are used among data center admins. Many of those strategies always privileges bacups as you can restore from backups no matter what.
You're still not comfortable with replication?
You might still not be comfortable with replication as you “backup” strategy. I can understand that. You prefer still, to do backups, and IF you have any problems, then restore. No problem with that. I'll add that the restoration process can be very fast with modern backup products.
Restore options for Nakivo.
Yes, in this post we're focusing on Nakivo a little bit, as they're very fast within their development, they support many hypevisors and you can install their software pretty much everywhere, including directly onto a NAS device. Do you already have a Synology or Netgear? Check Nakivo whether you can install the software directly on the NAS and save money by not buying a backup server!
With Nakivo, you have several recovery options:
- Flash VM Boot – Power on and run VMs directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups. It means that you don't have to restore the backup first to your production storage first.
- Instant File Recovery – A normal file level restore. You accidentally delete file or folder. Simply browse, search, and recover files and folders directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups.
- Instant Object Recovery for Microsoft Exchange – You have MS Exchange Server? You can browse, search, and recover Microsoft Exchange objects (such as emails) directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups.
- Instant Object Recovery for Microsoft Active Directory – You certainly have Microsoft Active Directory (AD). You can browse, search, and recover Microsoft Active Directory objects (such as users) directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups
With Nakivo Backup and Replication you can protect Hyper-V 2008 R2-2019 in a safe and reliable manner.
One of the options for data centers is hybrid mode. You can run half of your production at the main datacenter, and the second half in a remote datacenter. The advantage is that you can set up replication from one site to the other and vice versa. This way you've protected both ways. In case the main data center goes down, you can start up the VMs that are in standby mode at the remote datacenter as half of your running VMs were not impacted by the failure.
Few questions that came to my mind in this blog post were, I hope, answered. I think that backups are still important and especially when backing up large environments. You can implement a different archiving strategy on backup jobs and another strategy on replication jobs too. If you have two datacenters, the replication is pretty cool to work with. For a single datacenter the backup is just fine. No need to replicate, just setup a cloud backup as a second target and you're fine. There is no backup is better than replication. It's usually backup and then if you have a remote location, replication = yes. Feel free to comment.
More posts about Nakivo on ESX Virtualization
- Nakivo 10.1 Released with Backup of OneDrive for Business and more
- Nakivo Backup to Wasabi Features And Details
- Nakivo Backup and Replication 10 Released adding compatibility to vSphere 7
- Physical Server Backup, Workstation or Laptop with Nakivo Backup and Replication (Windows and Linux)
- Nakivo Backup and Replication 9 Released (p2v from backup, Windows Server 2019 support)
More from ESX Virtualization
- vSphere 7.0 Download Now Available
- vSphere 7.0 Page [All details about vSphere and related products here]
- VMware vSphere 7.0 Announced – vCenter Server Details
- VMware vSphere 7.0 DRS Improvements – What's New
- Upgrade from ESXi 6.7 to 7.0 ESXi Free
- USB Network Native Driver for ESXi Released as Fling
- TOP differences between ESXi 6.7 and ESXi 7.0