It is Time to Get Serious About Your Cloud Strategy – Zerto Briefing Note

Most organizations, if they are using cloud resources at all, are only using the cloud for a single purpose. The two most common use cases are backup storage and archive storage. Most organizations also look at the cloud as a singular entity, almost ignoring the reality that there are multiple public cloud options and hundreds of regional managed service providers. The time has come to get serious about the organization’s cloud strategy and to make sure it realizes all of the cloud’s potential. The problem is it is hard to develop a cloud strategy if IT doesn’t know how well it will be able to leverage cloud resources.

While backup and archive are good initial steps for organizations embarking on a cloud strategy, the cloud offers much more potential. It can act as a disaster recovery site, and it can host applications. The primary component missing from most IT arsenals is a software application that can provide the glue to put all of these elements together.

Capability 1 – Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

Creating, maintaining, testing and executing a successful disaster recovery plan remains a major challenge for many organizations. Traditional backup and recovery software often can no longer meet the organization’s recovery point and recovery time expectations. Additionally, the cost to equip, staff and maintain secondary sites is incredibly high.

The cloud is an ideal alternative. It has plenty of storage and compute to run the organization’s applications in the event of a failure, and it is far enough away that a failure, which impacts the primary data center, will not impact assets in the cloud. The challenge is getting data to the cloud.

While there are plenty of backup solutions claiming to be able to copy backup jobs to the cloud and even have that data be recoverable in the cloud, for many organizations backup and recovery can’t meet their recovery point objectives (RPO). In other words, data is not protected frequently enough.

The alternative is replication, which happens more frequently, in some cases as data changes. Traditional replication solutions required a similar configuration in the disaster recovery site as the one they were protecting in the primary site. They also could not maintain history, requiring frequent backups.

Zerto Virtual Replication, Enabling Cloud Recovery

Modern replication solutions, like Zerto Virtual Replication, solve these challenges by enabling any-to-any replication, which includes using the cloud. It also has a journal that enables the point in time recovery of sites, applications, virtual machines, and files.

In version 6.0 of Virtual Replication, Zerto enhances both of these capabilities. “Any to any” can now be taken literally. Not only can replication be from on-premises to a major cloud provider like Amazon, Azure, or IBM Cloud, it can also be between providers, like from Amazon to Azure or even from the public cloud to the organization’s data center. The replication is native and transformative, so VMware or hyper-V data replicated to the Azure or Amazon clouds is ready for use when it lands.

One of the challenges with disaster recovery to services like Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure is how to failback. While most solutions provide automated failover to the cloud, they do not provide fail-back capabilities. The lack of failback means the organization has to bring the application back manually. That typically means completely removing the on-premises copy of the application and its data, and then reinstalling the application and manually recovering its data. The reason for the failback challenge is that each cloud provider leverages its own API making recovery from each cloud different and challenging.

In version 5.5, Zerto added the ability to failback from Azure. Now with 6.0, they add the ability to automatically and intelligently failback from Amazon.

Zerto’s Journal File Level Recovery (JFLR) provides users with the point-in-time history capabilities for which they would usually count on backup. While JFLR does not replace traditional backup, it changes its role. Applications protected by Zerto Virtual Replication don’t need to be backed up as frequently, so the role of backup becomes one of long-term retention rather than one of operational recovery.

In 6.0 JFLR is enhanced to include support for Linux based servers in addition to Windows. Zerto also eliminated the 2TB file size limitation, and improved mount and download performance.

Capability 2 – Cloud Migration

With an any-to-any replication software solution acting as the foundation, new possibilities open up beyond disaster recovery. Data can be replicated from on-premises to multiple clouds to handle peak loads, test and develop applications using cloud resources, or full migration of an application to the cloud. Any-to-any replication makes sure that data changing in the cloud is also protected by replicating it to another region within the provider’s infrastructure, another cloud provider or back to on-premises.

Cloud Strategy Needs More Than Data Movement

A successful cloud strategy needs to do more than just move data. It should also provide tools that enable IT to manage and monitor how data moves to the cloud. Zerto Virtual Replication 6.0 offers multi-site and multi-cloud visibility from a single interface. New in this release are network performance analysis and a 30-day network history, in addition to a real-time view of network utilization. Analytics can be accessed from a desktop, tablet or smartphone as well having reports emailed to IT management teams.

Capability 3 – Leveraging CSPs – A World Beyond Microsoft, IBM Cloud, and Amazon

The cloud world does not exclusively belong to Azure, IBM Cloud and AWS. There are hundreds of Cloud Service Providers that offer a compelling alternative to the larger public cloud behemoths. These companies can provide more of a white glove service and help the organization with networking and other configuration issues.

Zerto has a strong portfolio of these companies, and in 6.0, they added capabilities to enable them to provide even better services. It can now remotely upgrade customers to make sure all its customers are on the latest version and patch level of Zerto Virtual Replication. The new portal also provides better visibility into the CSP’s customer’s sites. Now with Zerto Virtual Replication, organizations are not limited to public providers and their own sites, the whole world of CSPs is also now at their fingertips.

StorageSwiss Take

Organizations need to move out of the cloud infancy stage and into fully embracing cloud capabilities. Before these organizations can map out a strategy, they need to know what is possible. As a result, understanding what software will be used to move data to the cloud and between clouds is a more critical first step than developing the strategy. Once the capabilities of data movement are understood, IT can design a strategy that meets the needs of the organization while knowing that what it commits to is possible.

Eleven 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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