Evaluator Group analysts recently attended ZertoCON 2018, which was held May 21-23 in Boston Massachusetts. With approximately 750 attendees, the theme for this year’s event was “Resilient and Ready”. ZertoCON 2018 was the third annual conference for the company, all have been in Boston, one of the dual headquarters of Zerto along with Herzelia, Israel.
Zerto has been active in the Disaster Recovery (DR) market since being founded in 2010 and currently have more than 6,000 customers and 350+ Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), supported by almost 1,000 employees worldwide. Zerto Virtual Replication is the flagship DR product offering and Version 6.0, which was launched in February 2018, is the latest release. Version 6.0 added extended cloud features and support to improve workload mobility across multiple clouds.
Since last year’s conference, the company has continued to grow and evolve. They have 60% more end users than last year, and the company’s revenue growth is at 50% CAGR (revenue is not reported as a private company). Zerto expanded their executive ranks by adding a Chief Revenue Officer, Ed Carter and a CIO, Avi Raichel during the year. They have grown their ecosystem of partners from both technology and business perspectives. They have co-sale relationships with several large vendors (including IBM, Microsoft and HPE), work closely with some large DR services organizations (including IBM Resiliency Services and Sunguard Availability Services) and have continued to grow their business with their CSPs.
The highlight message of ZertoCON 2018 was the announcement of Zerto’s IT Resilience Platform, combining disaster recovery, data protection and cloud mobility into a single converged platform for today’s hybrid, multi-cloud environments. Zerto has been building the foundation of this platform since 2011 with their Continuous Data Protection engine and Journal-based recovery. On top of this foundation, the IT Resilience Platform adds Orchestration and Automation for non-disruptive workload mobility across multi-clouds plus SaaS-based Analytics and Control to provide visibility and access to hybrid environments. Zerto will be developing towards this vision for several years.
During his keynote presentation CEO and co-founder Ziv Kedem discussed several of the trends that are driving the evolution of the IT Resilience Platform. First, a number of their customers are moving to the cloud using Zerto, which has provided them a front row seat to the cloud. Second, the customers of IT organizations are defining more their applications as critical, which has those IT organizations increasing their Zerto deployments and providing DR more broadly. Finally, they see the number of mergers and acquisitions increasing, with more organizations using Zerto to migrate workloads from either or both sides of the M&A ledger.
Zerto believes most everyone is going through a digital transformation which they view as a good type of disruption for most organizations. Zerto highlighted a number of use-cases that benefit from the core tenants of their IT Resilience Platform. These tenants and associated use-cases include:
Zerto provided insights into coming product releases that further enhance the IT Resilience Platform. The next release is Version 6.5 which is targeted for August of this year and further supports the cloud focus of Version 6.0 by adding capabilities that help customers use Zerto in the cloud and enhance their CSPs’ cloud offerings. Zerto stated that they are just getting started with the cloud. Some of the highlighted enhancements include:
Until recently, Zerto was focused on disaster recovery and decidedly not backup. However, they have seen many customers using the granular recovery capabilities of Zerto essentially as backup and they have come to believe that many IT organizations are looking for combined backup and disaster recovery solutions, especially in the mid-market where the politics of backup versus DR are not as established in enterprises.
Zerto mentioned that they are not planning to build a traditional backup application – no agents, no periodic backups, no legacy environments. The company believes the era of agent-based, periodic backups is past and what companies need now is continuous, journal-based backups that provide granular recovery within seconds of data that can go back seconds or multiple years as needed. This will deliver short-term resiliency and long-term retention in a single solution.
Version 7.0 is the next major release and will deliver integrated backup for the IT Resilience Platform. It is targeted for a Q1 2019 launch and has several important enhancements to provide integrated backup including:
A few roadmap details to note. The new Elastic Journal must be rolled out before the long-term retention capabilities will be useful, so it may take several years for the full benefits to be experienced by customers. Version 7.0 does not include native deduplication which is available through partner solutions as they are today. Native deduplication in on the roadmap for other purposes. Through the REST API, additional technologies can be plugged into the Zerto solution for specific functions like discovery and legal holds.
Zerto is a company that we find IT organizations either know very well (and typically use) or they don’t know much about (yet). Various customer presentations during ZertoCON 2018 mentioned something very similar – they were not aware of Zerto until recommended by a partner or discovered when trying to solve a specific issue. This is likely to change as Zerto continues to grow and broadens beyond disaster recovery alone with the additional capabilities of backup and migration in the IT Resilience Platform.
With its IT Resilience Platform, Zerto looks to leverage its virtualization and journaling technology to expand beyond their traditional disaster recovery and data migration activities. The IT Resilience Platform provides structure to what Zerto is already delivering and helps organize how customers should think about the company. This is similar to a trend we have be seeing this year with other vendors defining a broader platform strategy with their traditional technologies at the core (for example, data protection vendors building enterprise data management platforms).
Zerto’s approach with journal-based protection and recovery provides a more differentiated path to a combined platform. By doing disaster recovery at the application level, their solution is not dependent on any hardware-based capabilities and is more flexible and portable to hybrid cloud environments. The result is focused on IT resiliency rather than enterprise data management but offers customers the opportunity to do more with an IT solution they already trust.
With backup, Zerto is not building a traditional backup product but looking to handle the use cases of backup in a new (and they think better) way. They are not going to meet all enterprise backup requirements with this approach, something management clearly understands. They believe it’s an evolving backup market and that they won’t really change the market shares of existing vendors. A customer panel had a balance of opinions with some customers ready and waiting for Zerto backup while others are mandated to keep backup separate or have requirements only available in traditional backup applications.
Cyber security and ransomware recovery were covered extensively as the top topic when it came to replication and recovery, which shows their importance today’s environments and the attention that DR is getting at the CxO level in many corporations. Echoing a familiar refrain, Ziv Kedem, CEO mentioned in his keynote, “It’s not if you will be attacked, it’s when you will be attacked.” In general, customers seemed satisfied with Zerto’s capabilities in this area.
Another important discovery from ZertoCON is the number of customers who deployed Zerto initially for data mobility rather than DR purposes. Some examples included moving data from an older storage system to a new one, moving data from on-premise and into the cloud, and consolidating data from acquired companies. Once deployed, all of these companies are now using Zerto for DR as well.
Zerto mentioned they are working on future enhancements after Version 7.0 that include support for physical applications, containers, and cloud-born applications. No timeline was provided for these future capabilities, but they further develop the capabilities of the IT Resilience Platform. From the customer perspective, encryption of data in flight and at rest was the top development ask from a customer panel at the event.
Overall, Zerto’s Continuous Data Protection and journal-based recovery provide a unique and differentiated approach to disaster recovery for today’s evolving IT environments. These engines will provide a differentiated foundation for expanding into solving many modern backup challenges as well. Combined with data and application mobility capabilities for hybrid and multiple clouds, the creation of the IT Resilience Platform provides a strong strategy and direction for the company.