VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Advanced 5.5 features the ability to replicate backup data between VDP Advanced appliances. This is a very useful method for moving backup data offsite. Backup data replication is also easier, more efficient, more secure, and less expensive than using tape to move backup data offsite.
VDP Advanced supports various replication topologies: one-to-one, many-to-one, and one-to-many. The next question I often get is “Do I have to buy VDP Advanced licenses for the target appliance?”. The answer is, it depends…
If the VDP Advanced appliance being used as a target is also backing up VMs, then naturally it must be licensed. Keep in mind VDP Advanced licenses are actually applied at the host level. For example, if I have two VDP Advanced appliances in the same cluster and all of the hosts in the cluster are licensed for VDP Advanced, I can perform backups with both appliances and replicate backup data for a few of my most critical VMs between the appliances – just in case. 🙂
The more common scenario I am asked about is a VDP Advanced target appliance in a different cluster – either within the same site or a separate site. If I am using the VDP Advanced appliance at the target location as a replication target only, I do not need to purchase additional licensing for that target appliance. VMware provides a “VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced 5.5 for Replication” license key at no additional charge.
This license key basically enables all of the functionality of VDP Advanced except for backup. In other words, when I use this license for the VDP Advanced target appliance, it can receive replicated data and perform restores, but the target appliance cannot back up VMs. It is possible to deploy multiple target appliances, as needed, if you are replicating larger amounts of backup data.
Hopefully, this clears up any questions you had around licensing a VDP Advanced appliance as a replication target (only). One last item I will mention is this does not cover the “standard” edition of VDP that is included with vSphere Essentials Plus and higher editions. VDP (not Advanced) can replicate only to EMC Avamar. VDP Advanced can replicate to both EMC Avamar and other VDP Advanced appliances.
VDP 5.8 now has a new option available during deployment: VDP Replication Target, as shown in the screen shot below. There is no longer a need to download and install the “replication target only” license as required with VDP 5.5. A fully licensed VDP Advanced virtual appliance can replicate backup data to a VDP Replication Target virtual appliance.
Please see this blog article for more details: http://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2014/11/vdp-rt-whitepaper.html