Remote Office / Branch Office (ROBO) scenario is usually challenging due to some constraints (like limited budget, lack of local IT people, limited IT resources and stuff, …) and some possible risks (like the bandwidth or latency assumptions could be wrong and not enought).

But in most companies the solution must provide same enterprise level services, like a right level of high availability, data protection, scalability (maybe not locally, but having more offices with similar solutions, …).

In most cases a two nodes solutions with a virtualization level could be enough, but what about the data protection aspects? Which kind of solutions could be suitable for a ROBO?

Unless you don’t have really high bandwidth between the main office and the remote offices, you need a local solution that can store one level of backup in the same facility. A second copy of backup could be on a removable storage, or on a different site (another office using replication of maybe also a cloud based solution). And of course you need to manage all those system with a central console where you can define your jobs and monitor them.

There are several good backup solution that can work in this model, but mostly of them require a Windows Server to implement those services, at least one on each site: could be a physical server, but it means another servers for each office, or could be a virtual machine.

Using a VM has some impacts, like sharing the resources of other VMs, using an additional Windows license (datacenter editions may be not used for very few VMs), using another VM (VMware vSphere ROBO license costs per VM!). And does not solve where save the backup: at least you need an external repository, that could be a NAS.

NAKIVO Backup and Replication has a scalable architecture, that consists of the following components:

The director is the central management point for VM data protection, one instance of the Director can manage multiple geographically distributed vCenters, standalone ESX(i) hosts, backup repositories, and Transporters:

nakivo-installationMore interesting, NAKIVO (for the director or the transporter role) could be installed in several different way:

A virtual appliance or the Linux version could be a simple way to deploy in a VM without use a Windows license, but the most interesting options for ROBO are the NAS version.

Considering the you probably need a NAS for each office to store the backup why don’t installing NAKIVO Backup & Replication directly into it? With the appliance, all VM data protection components are unified in a single system that is fast to deploy and easy to manage, while also not consuming the valuable resources of your VMware virtualized environment. Moreover, you are getting an all-in-one backup hardware, backup software, backup storage, and data deduplication in a single box. This results in a zero VMware footprint, less power and cooling, less maintenance, time, money, and – most of all – higher VM backup performance!

Actually there are official integrations with Synology and WD NAS, but potentially, using the Linux installer, you can install the transport role also on other Linux x86 based NAS.

But the Synology NAS looks really great, directly integrated with other NAS applications:

Of course you need a minimum set of resource for a NAS installation, at least:

  • CPU: x86-64, 2 cores
  • RAM: 1 GB RAM
  • Free space: 1GB

But lot of (entry level) NAS can match those requirements.

Compared to using NAKIVO Backup & Replication as an external system (on a VM o a physical system), when is integrated with the NAS you can get up to 1.7X backup speed boost just because backup data is written directly to NAS disks, bypassing file protocols such as NFS and CIFS (same case as having a physical system with local disks for the repository).

Of course the performance depends also by the NAS resources, but in most cases you can back up your VMs at up to 1 gigabit per second (with data compression and deduplication turned on), fully utilizing the available NAS bandwidth!

And for the off-site copy of your backup? Actually (compared to other backup products) NAKIVO lack of a native tape integration, but you can still use a remote repository or you can also backup the virtual environment to Amazon Cloud:
Synology-based VM Backup Appliance Sends Backups to the Cloud

Have a second backup on a public cloud was already possible, but now the new NAKIVO Backup & Replication v6.2 provides also a simple, reliable, and affordable way to protect and recover AWS EC2 instances. Should be interesting see if, in the future, will be also possible have cross-platform (VMware and AWS EC2) replication capability, in this case, this solution could become also an interesting option to manage disaster recovery for the remote offices.

Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2434 Posts)

Virtualization & Cloud Architect. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). PernixPro 2014. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014. MVP 2014. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.