Category : AWS

Zerto 9.0 Introduces New Enhancements to LTR with Amazon S3, and Here’s What you Need to Know

Zerto 9.0 went GA on July 13, 2021, and the official launch webinar was today (July 29, 2021), but if you missed it, you can head to the following URL and register to watch it on-demand:

https://www.zerto.com/page/zerto-9-live-demo-instant-ransomware-recovery/

While there are many new enhancements that I’m not going to cover here, this blog is specifically related to the changes made to the product to bring even more value, cost savings, and security to Amazon S3 repositories used with Zerto’s Long-term Retention (Backup).

Along with these changes, you can sure expect an updated technical document that will cover all the steps and requirements (in detail) to take advantage of the new features. I will also update this post with a link to the updated document once it becomes available.

Update: The latest version of the published document I wrote to accommodate this blog post titled “Deploy & Configure Zerto Long-term Retention for Amazon S3” can be found here: https://bit.ly/ZLTRAWSS3

Auto-Tiering for Data Backed up to Amazon S3

The first enhancement I want to cover here is automatic tiering of retention sets after they’ve aged, meaning Zerto will automatically move backup data from Amazon S3 Standard to Amazon S3 Standard-Infrequent Access, and then again (if desired) to Amazon S3 Glacier.

Here is what it looks like when creating a repository in Zerto:

Now, when Zerto customers are backing up to Amazon S3, they can take advantage of better pricing as data ages, reducing cost and enabling more efficient use of storage. The new feature is enabled by default in a fresh install. If you are upgrading from a previous version, tiering will not be enabled by default, so you’ll need to enable it on an existing Amazon S3 repository, or create a new one. There are no additional configuration changes required to take advantage of this new feature.

Retention Set Immutability via Amazon S3 Object Lock

With Ransomware attacks continuing to rise (150% increase in 2020), the need to protect backup data via immutability becomes more important than ever. Customers can now specify whether or not they would like to enable immutability, which offers better protection from data either being deleted or otherwise compromised after it has been written.

While tiering doesn’t require any additional configuration, here are some things you’re going to need to know if you plan on using Zerto’s immutability feature with or without tiering:

  • You cannot enable S3 Object Lock on an existing S3 bucket. This is an AWS limitation. You will need to create a new S3 bucket to store immutable backups, and then create a new repository in Zerto.
  • You can have a repository that takes advantage of both of these new features, however, because of the object lock limitation on buckets (cannot be changed after the fact), you are still going to need a new repository (S3 bucket).
  • There are some additional permissions for the IAM policy (covered below) required in order to take advantage of immutability.
  • There are some additional features (covered below) you will need to enable on the S3 bucket to take advantage of immutability.
  • If you’ve enabled S3 bucket encryption per my previous blog post in an earlier version of Zerto, the good news is that you can still have encryption enabled along with these new features.

Updated IAM Policy Permissions Required for Amazon S3

Here is the updated list of S3 permissions required in your IAM policy to take advantage of these new features. If you have an existing policy in use today, I’ve highlighted the additional permissions required (in bold), so you can easily update that policy. If you’d like a JSON version of the permissions for use with Amazon IAM policy creation, you can get the file from Zerto’s GitHub repo:

https://github.com/ZertoPublic/Zerto9-LTR-AWS-IAM-JSON

  • S3:ListBucket
  • S3:ListBucketVersions
  • S3:GetBucketObjectLockConfiguration
  • S3:GetObject
  • S3:GetObjectAcl
  • S3:GetObjectVersion
  • S3:DeleteObject
  • S3:DeleteObjectVersion
  • S3:PutObject
  • S3:PutObjectRetention
  • S3:RestoreObject
  • S3:DeleteBucketPolicy
  • S3:PutObjectACL

Amazon S3 Bucket Configuration for Immutability

In order to enable Immutability for the Amazon S3 bucket, you’re going to have to create a new bucket. Enabling S3 Object Lock has to be done at time of creation, so as you’re creating your new S3 bucket, be sure to include the following options:

  • Enable S3 Bucket Versioning (This is required in order to enable Object Lock – See the screenshots below)
  • Under Advanced Settings for the bucket, enable Object Lock, and tick the box to acknowledge that enabling Object Lock will permanently allow objects in this bucket to be locked.

There you have it! I’ve done quite a bit of testing with the new feature and am excited that we’re able to provide these new capabilities to meet our customer requirements and better safeguard them! We’ve also got similar enhancements for Azure users (however no immutability – yet), and I am planning on creating a technical document for setting this up in Azure, so stay tuned for that as well 🙂

If you have found this to be useful, please comment, or share so others are also aware. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Reduce the Cost of Backup Storage with Zerto 8.5 and Amazon S3

When Zerto 7.0 was released with Long-Term Retention, it was only the beginning of the journey to provide what feels like traditional data protection to meet compliance/regulations for data retention in addition to the 30-day short term journal that Zerto uses for blazing fast recovery.

A few versions later, Zerto (8.5) has expanded that “local repository” to include “remote repositories” in the public cloud. Today it’s Azure blob (hot/cold), and AWS S3 (with support for Standard S3, Standard S3-IA, or Standard One Zone-IA).

And to demonstrate how to do it, I’ve created some content, which includes video and a document that walks you through the process. In the video, I even go as far as running a retention job (backup) to AWS S3, and restoring data from S3 to test the recovery experience.

The published whitepaper can be found here: https://www.zerto.com/page/deploy-configure-zerto-long-term-retention-amazon-s3/

Update: I have just completed testing with S3 Bucket Encryption using Amazon S3 key (SSE-E3), and the solution works without any changes to the IAM policy (https://github.com/gjvtorres/Zerto-LTR-IAM-Policy). There are two methods to encrypt the S3 bucket, with Amazon S3 key as the first option (recommended), and AWS Key Management Service key (SSE-KMS) as the other. I suggest taking a look at the following AWS document that provides pricing examples of both methods. According to what I’ve found, you can cut cost by up to 99% by using the Amazon S3 key. So go ahead, give it a read!

https://aws.amazon.com/kms/pricing/

Now for the fun stuff…

The first option I have is the YouTube video below (or you can watch on my YouTube channel) .

I’ve also started branching out to live streaming of some of the work I’m doing on my Twitch channel.

If you find the information useful, I’d really appreciate a follow on both platforms, and hey, enable the notifications so when I post new content or go live, you can get notified and participate. I’m always working on producing new content, and feedback is definitely helpful to make sure I’m doing something that is beneficial for the community.

So, take a look, and let me know what you think. Please share, because information’s only useful if those who are looking for it are made aware.

Cheers!

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Using the AWS Storage Gateway to Backup to S3 using Zerto

This one took a while to get out there, but alas, it has been published for public consumption.

With that, I’m happy to be able to share this new whitepaper with the community, as it was not only great to hear that Zerto supports it, but it was also a blast testing and documenting the solution!

As a part of the Zerto 8.0 launch earlier this year (March 22, 2020 to be exact), the AWS Storage Gateway was officially announced as being supported as a Zerto LTR (Long Term Retention/Backup) target, which effectively enables you to send your Zerto backups to Amazon S3.

Sure, as of Zerto 8.5, you can actually configure Azure Blob (Hot/Cold) Storage or Amazon S3 (with Infrequent Access Tier support) for Zerto backups, which will effectively enable you to send backups directly to the public clouds via HTTPs.

That said, where does the AWS Storage Gateway fit into the picture? When or why should I use it as opposed to sending my backups directly to the cloud?

In a nutshell, the difference between what Zerto does in 8.5, and what you get by using the AWS Storage Gateway is that with the storage gateway, you are getting a cached copy of your backup data on-premises, which resides outside of Zerto’s short term journal. Here’s how that topology looks:

Topology for the AWS Storage Gateway in a Zerto Environment

What we see here is that the Storage Gateway sits on-premises, and serves as a cache location for most frequently accessed data. You connect it to Zerto as an NFS or SMB repository (SMB must be used for indexing, btw) and configure your Virtual Protection Groups to send backups to this repository.

What you will get is a Zerto backup that will complete locally, and then the Storage Gateway asynchronously replicates that data out to an S3 bucket of your choosing. If you need to restore something from the backups (if your short term journal doesn’t contain what you need), you can quickly restore that data from the storage gateway without having to pull the data back down from S3.

Now that I’ve set the stage – without further ado (yeah I googled this to be sure I used the correct term), here’s the link to the whitepaper: https://bit.ly/2Krs14y

As an added bonus, if you are strapped for time and don’t want to read, I’ve also created a video that walks through the same steps to install and configure the AWS Storage Gateway for use with Zerto:

If you have found this useful, please be social and share! As usual, thanks for reading, and watching. Please leave any comments and questions below!

Cheers!

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Zerto: Can Failover Live Be Used for a Datacenter Migration, Consolidation, or HW Refresh?

The answer is yes, if you really wanted to… however, there’s another feature of Zerto that will allow you to perform a much “cleaner” migration of your VM(s) with a more planned approach.

This feature may not be easily located, as it’s found within the Actions menu in the Zerto UI, but it’s actually a very valuable one that basically allows you to migrate VMs from one location to another (cluster to cluster, vCenter to vCenter, vSphere <> Hyper-V, On-Prem to Public Cloud, Site to Site – even from one vendor’s hardware to another) with no data loss.  That’s right, an RPO of ZERO.

Failover Live (FOL)

First off, since the title of this blog post mentions “Failover Live”, or as we abbreviate it as FOL, lets talk about that method first.  What is the FOL process, and how does it work?

The FOL process is an operation that should be used following a disaster to recover your protected VMs in a recovery site, or in the event the protected site ZVM is not available.  The main thing to note here is that when you execute a FOL, Zerto will default to the latest checkpoint, or you can select a previous checkpoint in time to recover to (usually within seconds of each other).  Additionally, you have the option to either leave the VMs in the group running, power them off, or force a shutdown.

Essentially what this means is that when using FOL, Zerto is expecting that there’s been an unplanned environment disruption of some sort and  you need to resume production as quickly as possible in your recovery site.

Here’s the workflow for a failover operation.  You can download a PDF version of this diagram here.

Zerto Virtual Replication Failover Live Workflow Diagram

Please note, that the workflow objects in yellow include some decisions you will need to make based on your type of disruption as it relates to the power state of the VMs in your protected site (Shutdown (gracefully), Leave Powered On, or Force Shutdown).

Regarding my earlier comment about ZERO data loss, this method will only get you to the latest checkpoint when the outage was detected, or a previous checkpoint.  You can choose what point in time to recover to, which in either option, will be a crash-consistent state which may not be desired for something like a migration project.

For additional detail about the Failover Live (FOL) process and how it works, including considerations, see the Zerto Virtual Manager Administration Guide for vSphere.

Move VPG

As opposed to an unplanned disruption to your environment, the “Move VPG” operation in Zerto is recommended when you’re performing a planned migration whether it be your DR site, public cloud, new hardware, or other datacenter.  The difference here is that when you perform a planned migration of your virtual machine(s) to a recovery site, Zerto assumes that both sites are up and healthy and that you are performing a relocation of the virtual machine(s) in a controlled/orderly fashion – with the expectation of no data loss.

Here is the workflow for a Move VPG operation.  You can download a PDF version of this diagram here.

Zerto Virtual Replication Move VPG Workflow Diagram

So as you can see from the workflow above, the steps are a bit different than a failover live, as there are actually some steps taken in the protected site before VMs are brought up in the recovery site to ensure that what is booted is in the exact same state as the source copy.

For additional detail about the Move VPG process and how it works, see the Zerto Virtual Manager Administration Guide for vSphere.

Summary

While you can still use the FOL process to migrate VMs from one location to another, there is still going to be some level of data loss and a crash consistent boot.

To ensure you don’t lose any data (even data that may be in memory at the time you perform a FOL), the “Move VPG” operation will take care of automating the safe/graceful shutdown of a VM and replicate any remaining data before powering up in the recovery site.

When performing either operation, be sure to verify your commit policy as well, because you would want to make sure that the recovered/migrated VM is in a usable state before committing it to the recovery location because once you commit the change, you must wait for promotion and reverse protection (delta sync) to take place before you can perform a failback.  Both options will allow you the ability to rollback without commit, but behave differently in terms of the expected state of the protected site.

 

 

 

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Configuring AWS for Zerto Virtual Replication

By now, it’s no secret that the IT Resilience Platform that Zerto has come to be known as offers complete flexibility when it comes to multi-cloud agility.  This agility allows businesses to accelerate their digital transformation and truly take advantage of what the public cloud platform offers – ensuring even more freedom to choose your cloud and to be able to replicate workloads to, from, and even between public clouds.  As there have been great improvements in Zerto’s any-to-any story, one in particular I’d like to focus on in this article is AWS (Amazon Web Services).

Starting with Zerto Virtual Replication 6.0, customers now have:

  • Orchestration allowing not only targeting AWS for DR or for workload migration, but now the ability to come back out of AWS to on-premises datacenters, or even the ability to replicate between public cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Public Cloud) and Cloud Service Providers (CSPs).
  • Zerto Analytics visibility between all sites, including public cloud, now with network statistics and 30-day history.

Now, while these improvements are exciting and offer even more cloud agility to customers, one can’t help but realize that before you can actually start taking advantage of ZVR 6.0 to achieve a hybrid cloud architecture or DR in the cloud (specifically AWS), there are some pre-requisites to complete before doing so.  That said, meeting those requirements may not seem as intuitive as you’d hope at first glance.

While having a cloud use-case is usually the first step, and is determined by business requirements – the challenge lies within understanding what exactly needs to be configured in AWS for ZVR functionality, and how to accomplish it. If you take a look below, the workflow itself is a multi-step process that may not be very easy to perform, until now.

ZVR AWS Workflow
Figure 1: Configuring AWS for ZVR – Workflow

In my usual fashion of wanting to know exactly how things are done and then sharing it with everyone else, I’ve written a how-to document for configuring AWS for Zerto Virtual Replication, which I am happy to say has been turned into an official Zerto whitepaper and is now available for download!

>> Whitepaper – Configuring AWS for Zerto Virtual Replication <<

As usual, feedback, is welcomed with open arms. If you find this useful, please share and be social!

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