During the week of May 20th, Zerto held its annual user conference ZertoCON 2019, this year in Nashville. The estimated 750 attendees included Evaluator Group who was there to attend keynotes and other sessions as well as meet with key Zerto employees and customers. The enthusiasm of the customer attendees as well as the Zerto employees made this an informative and entertaining event.
The main theme repeated in the keynote presentations was IT Resilience. This message was related to the ability of Zerto to combine data protection and data recovery in a single solution for virtual machine environments.
The CEO and co-founder, Ziv Kedem gave an update on the company:
He focused on the theme that resilience is the key to success for customers and detailed the challenges faced:
He stated that a single tool for disaster recovery and backup was needed and Zerto filled that need and that the future was not with continued use of traditional backup. A number of customer examples including United Airlines were given to show how they had successfully used Zerto for data protection in their virtualized environments.
Ziv also discussed customers moving to public clouds, at least in part, and the need for the same capabilities as on-premises. He highlighted how Zerto operates both in on-premises and in public cloud environments and that Zerto was working with Cloud Service Providers to be their data protection offering.
Zerto characterizes their product as Continuous Data Protection with journal-based recovery using agentless I/O captures from the hypervisor in a virtual machine environment or through public cloud I/O capture facilities when deployed on a public cloud (AWS or Azure currently). It is used by customers for backup, disaster recovery, data migration, and long-term retention. The conference came on the heels of the 7.0 release which featured the major functionality delivery of Long-Term Retention (LTR), which allows journals to be archived to object storage (on-premises or in public clouds) for recovery of data. Previously, journals were retained with a 30-day window. With version 7.0, years-worth of journals may be used to recover information in the form of files for virtual machines. Zerto currently works in VMware and Hyper-V environments.
Rob Strechay, SVP of Product at Zerto discussed the future possibilities for Zerto. Before going into the potentials, Rob reviewed the key characteristics of the product being native to virtual machine environments, agentless, continuous data protection, and journal-based recoveries. He also reviewed the Version 7 features – deeper integration into Azure, long-term retention, AWS encryption, Identity Access Management, and the beginning of the VAIO technical partnership. Also released with Version 7 was a redesign of the dashboard with drill-down analytics. The analytics provide sitewide storage reporting across all datastores, planning for on-premises, Azure, and AWS, and troubleshooting information.
Ongoing developments in progress that Rob mentioned were HPE StoreOnce integration using Catalyst, Azure Databox support, a gateway to tape, and direct object and cloud native storage support. No specific dates for these developments were mentioned.
Rob noted that Version 7.5 would expand on the VAIO program for VMware secure boot and VMware storage policy-based management. In the 2020 timeframe, Rob said there would be a Next Generation Platform but the full extent of what would be included had not been decided yet and would be driven by customer requirements. He mentioned support for Acropolis, containers, additional public clouds and an encryption feature.
Changing the model for data protection away from an application that pulls data from storage devices and writes to another storage device and changing disaster recovery from restores of backups or having replica copies made by storage system to storage system functions is a major revision of operations. The ZertoCON event really was a celebration of how well they have done so far and demonstrating new functionality that has come with Version 7. The enthusiasm from customers was impressive and those we spoke with were very happy and saw a great future for Zerto. We see that movement away from traditional backup to be very interesting and have great value for those customers who are mostly virtualized. There is a very positive future for Zerto and the next big thing should be support for containers. Customers will still have need for some physical server protection so there will continue to be other backup software in use. But, the protection and recovery become much simpler with the Zerto solution.