This is the third installment of a series by Systems Team Lead Matt Peabody to begin to answer a question he hears all the time: “Why vendor X?”
We are going to make a change from the originally planned “Why VMware?” and talk about a newer partner with whom we are working. Zerto is a Disaster Recovery product built for virtualization. We had quite a few customers asking us how they could close the gap for their data loss in the event of a total failure. Many of them were relying on offsite backups and realized the time to restore all of their data would be a large loss of productivity. We had looked at Continuous Data Protection backup products before and were largely unimpressed with the complexity, and we didn’t like the performance hits the VMs took when they were being protected. We found Zerto after talking with a few of our customers who had just deployed it to protect their virtual infrastructures.
We did our normal testing of the product and found there were a few things that stood out for Zerto as a leader in Business Continuity.
During our initial conversations with customers and throughout our testing, we found the deployment to be one of the simplest installs. We rant through the install on a Windows VM, deployed the replication appliances with a few clicks and had a replication infrastructure ready to go in about 30 minutes. We then created a few protection groups and watched our VMs replicating in real time to our DR site. This was all done without any reboots to hosts and no downtime to install guest agents in our VMs.
Zerto can protect VMs in Virtual Protection Groups (VPG). These groups are similar to VMware’s VApp entities. The VMs in a VPG are all kept in sync and make up a business application. This allows for single click testing and automated recovery when needed for DR purposes. Since Zerto can keep all the VMs in sync across hosts and is WAN friendly, the business critical apps can be recovered extremely quickly and to points in time down to the second. Testing of the groups is a few clicks away and will keep the production workload from going down. VMs can have IPs changed in software so layer 2 networks don’t have to be stretched across WAN links.
3. Fault Tolerance
Many of the complaints we found with CDP products focused on what happened when the network or backup repository was offline. With in-guest agents, many of them built up queues of data, filling up disk space, slowing down performance and bottlenecking memory. With Zerto, they handle all of these gracefully. Each hosts has its own small replication proxy, which listens to the SCSI stream from the VMs it is protecting. If the WAN connectivity is failing, those VMs build up a queue on their disks, not affecting the production application VMs’ performance. They can also recover from long outages with ease by reprotecting a VM and only sending over changes from the last protected point in time. Since the management architecture is distributed across datacenters, failure of one side does not impact the protection or recovery of the protected VMs.
4. Hardware Agnostic
With array-based replication, a customer needs nearly identical hardware in production and DR. This cost was not an option for many customers that had a single datacenter and a smaller remote DR site. With Zerto, the replication can happen from an array based production cluster to different disparate hosts with local storage, different arrays or to the cloud. Since the replication happens above the array in the hypervisor, DR becomes easier and older hardware can be reused, rather than thrown out. With all the options for targets, DR becomes a commodity rather than an expensive, unused datacenter.
We have been very happy with the results Zerto has shown in the Business Continuity space. They help our customers close the gap for their DR from days down to minutes. Next will definitely be “Why VMware?”