The Value of NAS Integrated Backup in a Virtualized Environment

Network Attached Storage (NAS) servers are widely used for storing virtual machine backups. What’s been lacking is a method to integrate the two workload types that many consider mutually exclusive: backup software and backup storage.

The Advantage of On-Appliance Backup

If the data protection software is integrated onto the NAS device this opens up several possibilities. First is the NAS appliance now becomes a backup appliance with the ability to backup other systems in the environment. Most backup servers read data from the source datastore over the network and then send that data one more time across the network to a backup storage. Integrating the backup software on the appliance eliminates one of these network hops.

If the NAS is being used as storage for VMware or Hyper-V virtual machines then a NAS with integrated backup software can backup those virtual machines to a separate volume on the same NAS. Ideally the backup software will include compression and deduplication so that the backed up copies do not require as much storage capacity as the production environment.

It is important that the integration is intelligent enough to know that the virtual machine images and the backup images are on the same system. With this knowledge the combined solution can perform these transfers while bypassing network protocols, which will enhance overall performance.

3-2-1 Backup Still Required!

The age old philosophy still holds: three copies of your data, on two different types of media, with at least one copy off-site. While the NAS integrated backups are fast and efficient, they are somewhat vulnerable. But, let’s be fair, most NAS systems are very reliable and include redundant hardware, RAID protection, snapshots and now a backup copy to a second volume, also with its own protection. The only remaining step is to get the data secured to an off-site location.

Enter Cloud Enabled NAS

If the NAS system can replicate its data to either another NAS or to a public cloud provider then administrators resolve vulnerability concerns of NAS integrated backup. The public cloud, especially for small to medium sized data centers is particularity attractive because it not only provides a disaster recovery capability, some NAS systems can integrate with public cloud services to provide file sync and share. That solves yet another common IT problem.

Alternatively or in addition, the backup software could directly interface with a public cloud provider and replicate the backup data there. The challenge with some backup solution is supporting the cloud as a backup destination is mostly an afterthought and getting that integration working correctly can be challenging. More modern solutions integrate directly with cloud providers like Amazon, enabling a fast and simple use of the resource.

StorageSwiss Take

Most small to medium sized data centers will leverage a NAS as their primary storage system, including using it to host their Hyper-V or VMware environment. They may also use NAS as a backup storage target. It makes sense then to select a backup software solution that can integrate directly with the NAS so that backups of those environments can be fast and efficient.


NAKIVO develops a fast, reliable, and affordable data protection solution for VMware, Hyper-V, and AWS EC2 environments. NAKIVO Backup & Replication can be installed on Synology NAS as a native package and turn the NAS into a VM backup appliance that combines backup hardware, software, storage, and deduplication/compression in a single device. NAKIVO Backup & Replication has a simple and intuitive Web interface, supports live applications and databases, increases performance with LAN-free data transfer and network acceleration features, as well as provides instant recovery of VMs, files, and application objects directly from compressed and de-duplicated backups. Visit to learn more.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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One comment on “The Value of NAS Integrated Backup in a Virtualized Environment
  1. Sudhindra says:

    A Great article. Like to hear about recovery details, like speed of recovery, challenges, issues faced, consistency, RPO and RTO sample/live production / tested and proven..Thanks

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