Backup vs. Replication: Opposing or Complementary?

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What is Veeam Backup? What is Veeam Replication? Which solution is best for your business and why? Let’s find out!

Veeam Backup & Replication is the foundation of the Veeam Platform, providing backup, recovery and replication for your critical workloads including VMware, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Windows, Linux, enterprise apps and much more. 

But why do you even need backup and replication, you might ask. Here’s why… 

The Achilles heel of information technology has always been the non-physical nature of data records. Electrons can disappear in startlingly large quantities in less than the blink of an eye. This can happen with a simple user error, by clicking on the wrong menu item for instance, or through sophisticated attacks such as ransomware, which encrypts your data, effectively scrambling it beyond recognition or usability — unless you pay to have it de-encrypted. Then there are natural disasters, like fires, floods, tornadoes, etc. Although, these latter threats are arguably more dangerous to physical files than they are to electronic data given the relative ease with which electronic data can be protected. That is why even before the modern information age, keeping backups of critical data has always been essential. 

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What’s a Backup and how does it work?

A backup is a copy of a set of data or a full system that is made at a specific time and stored away, either on the business premises, at an offsite location or in the cloud — or some mix of the three. A backup is time bound. Even seconds after it is made, a backup will no longer represent the existing live data set, which is continuously changing. For many kinds of data, this isn’t a problem. Sometimes it is even an advantage. For instance, in the case of a ransomware attack where the entire data store has been compromised, having a clean backup of your data and systems taken from a point in time before the infection is the only way to recover from the attack.

A Veeam Backup makes a point in time archive of all the files, settings, snapshots, binaries, and configuration files that make up a virtual machine (VM) or system. This archive is stored in a single file (*.VBK) that is often compressed and deduplicated to save disk space. Completed backup files give the business a point in time from which to recover any and all files that are associated with a system or application. If backups are completed with regular frequency, they can be very effective at preventing data loss entirely and at recovering data in the event of accidental or purposeful deletion. Backup provides a very strong RPO (Recovery Point Objective) solution. Veeam also provides Veeam Cloud Connect , which enables the capability to make backup copies offsite to a Cloud Connect Service Provider to ensure offsite and ransomware protection for backups.

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What’s Replication and how does it work? 

Replication makes a copy of a running virtual machine and then synchronizes updates from that running VM at regular intervals so that the replica is ready to run with the most current information should the need arise for a failover. The content of a replica changes with each new synchronization. Failover can take place very rapidly and often results in little to no downtime for the business and a very low RTO (Recovery Time Objective). 

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In today’s virtual environments, where critical services such as e-commerce and supply chain are being provided to customers, or where automated manufacturing and smart processes generally rely on instantaneous access to changing data, the live nature of the data is critical. In case of a failure to a primary system, it is essential to have a failover to a redundant system that can immediately restore the service. In this case, more than the data is replicated. The virtual machines, as well as the underlying network have to be replicated so that services accessing a given IP address will continue seamlessly. Again, the replication may be on the enterprise premises, in a physically distant alternate location or in the cloud – or some mix of the three.

What are the differences? Backup vs. Replication  

Now that we have discussed the importance and the process of replicating and backing up your essential business systems and data, let’s talk about the differences between the two. When it comes to backup  and replication , the most frequently asked question is – do you need one of these solutions, or do you need both? 

The two terms, Backup and Replication, are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. Sometimes they are presented as alternative ways to protect your systems, as if you must choose one or the other. The thoroughness of the replication solution sometimes makes enterprises believe incorrectly that they can dispense with backups, since there is always one or more replications of the live data store at any time. However, this misses the point that data that is corrupted or lost is also replicated in the failover system. If an employee hits the wrong key or a ransomware attack encrypts data in the primary system, it will be replicated through the redundant systems based on the replication frequency. Because of the trend towards Continuous Data Protection (CDP) and low recovery point objectives (RPO) for frequently replicated systems, it is also essential to have historical backups with longer RPOs. 

So, for most businesses Backup and Replication are both essential and you should employ them together to ensure that you have a full data protection and disaster recovery plan. What mix of replication and backup your business needs will depend on the nature of your data and the role it plays in your business. The required availability of systems and the budget you have for disaster recovery will also play a role in these decisions.  More critical and frequently changing systems will be stronger candidates to add replication, but will also add cost to the solution.  Options for failover may also exist to balance costs including both “Warm” and “Hot” (high availability) Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS).  A good DRaaS provider will be able to provide a cost-effective solution to meet your managed disaster recovery requirements while ensuring that both replication and backup processes are provided to balance availability with data protection. 

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As businesses pursue digital transformation strategies that integrate data across their internal silos for end-to-end data-driven processes, they will have to consider replication for either partial or full failover scenarios, as well as complementary backup services . As your DRaaS partner, Storagepipe works with you to determine what mix of backup and replication makes the most sense for your business operations. We will help you to analyze the role that your data plays in your business and help assess the cost of data loss vs. the cost of the disaster recovery effort. And, if your business needs it, we will design an appropriately scaled DRaaS solution to ensure that your essential services are restored and up and running before your customers have even noticed.

About Storagepipe

Storagepipe is a trusted global provider of comprehensive cloud, data protection and security services.

Since 2001, Storagepipe has provided these robust and secure Managed Cloud and Disaster Recovery solutions from a scalable multi-tenant infrastructure, supported by our first-class in-house technical team. Storagepipe delivers highly flexible and responsive solutions with outstanding value and service, using state-of-the-art technology to offer ultimate protection and peace of mind.

We are driven to be your trusted partner and to ensure that we deliver a Storagepipe Experience that meets your business requirements with the reliability, scalability and support that your business demands.

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