Zerto is primarily a disaster recovery solution that relies on a relatively short-term journal that retains data for a maximum of 5 days (at great expense in disk storage). Many Zerto installations only have a 4-hour journal to minimize the storage needed for the journal. Zerto is a great disaster recovery solution, but not as great as a backup solution. Many customers will augment Zerto with a backup solution for long-term retention of past data.
Long-term retention is the ability to go back to previous versions of data, which is often needed for compliance reasons. Think about the ability to go back weeks, months, and even years to past versions of data. Even if not driven by compliance, the need to go back in time to view past versions of data is very useful in situations such as:
- Cryptolocker type ransom-ware corrupts your data and is replicated to the DR site
- Legal discovery – for example, reviewing email systems as they were months or even years ago.
- Inadvertent overwriting of critical data such as a report that is updated quarterly. Clicking “Save” instead as “Save As” is a good example of how this can happen.
- Unexpected deletion of data that takes time to recognize.
For reference and further clarification, check out the differences between disaster recovery, backup and business continuity.
Even though Zerto is primarily a disaster recovery product, it does have some backup functions.
Zerto backup functionality involves making an entire copy of all of the VM’s within a VPG. We sometimes break up VPG’s with the goal to facilitate efficient backups. One big VPG can result in making one big backup which can take many hours (or days) to complete. Since it’s an entire copy of the VPG it can take a significant amount of time and storage space to store the copy. Each backup is a full backup and currently, no incremental/differential backup capability exists within Zerto.
It is also advisable to write the backups to a location that support de-duplication, such as Windows 2012 Server. It still takes time to write the backup, but the de-duplication will dramatically lower the required storage footprint for backing up Zerto VPG’s. Without de-duplication on the backup storage, you will see a large amount of storage consumed by each full backup of the VPGs.
Zerto supports the typical grandfather-father-son backup with daily, weekly and monthly backups for 1 year. Zerto currently does not support backups past 1 year, so even with Zerto backups, the long-term retention of data is not as good as with other products designed to be backup products. However, Zerto really shines as a disaster recovery tool when you need quick access to the latest version of your servers. Its backup capabilities will get better with time.
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