Random Short Take #21

Here’s a semi-regular listicle of random news items that might be of some interest.

  • This is a great article covering QoS enhancements in Purity 5.3. Speaking of Pure Storage I’m looking forward to attending Pure//Accelerate in Austin in the next few weeks. I’ll be participating in a Storage Field Day Exclusive event as well – you can find more details on that here.
  • My friends at Scale Computing have entered into an OEM agreement with Acronis to add more data protection and DR capabilities to the HC3 platform. You can read more about that here.
  • Commvault just acquired Hedvig for a pretty penny. It will be interesting to see how they bring them into the fold. This article from Max made for interesting reading.
  • DH2i are presenting a webinar on September 10th at 11am Pacific, “On the Road Again – How to Secure Your Network for Remote User Access”. I’ve spoken to the people at DH2i in the past and they’re doing some really interesting stuff. If your timezone lines up with this, check it out.
  • This was some typically insightful coverage of VMworld US from Justin Warren over at Forbes.
  • I caught up with Zerto while I was at VMworld US last week, and they talked to me about their VAIO announcement. Justin Paul did a good job of summarising it here.
  • Speaking of VMworld, William has posted links to the session videos – check it out here.
  • Project Pacific was big news at VMworld, and I really enjoyed this article from Joep.

Zerto – News From ZertoCON 2019

Zerto recently held their annual user conference (ZertoCON) in Nashville, TN. I had the opportunity to talk to Rob Strechay about some of the key announcements coming out of the event and thought I’d cover them here.

 

Key Announcements

Licensing

You can now acquire Zerto either as a perpetual license or via a subscription. There’s previously been some concept of subscription pricing with Zerto, with customers having rented via managed service providers, but this is the first time it’s being offered directly to customers. Strechay noted that Zerto is “[n]ot trying to move to a subscription-only model”, but they are keen to give customers further flexibility in how they consume the product. Note that the subscription pricing also includes maintenance and support.

7.5 Is Just Around The Corner

If it feels like 7.0 was only just delivered, that’s because it was (in April). But 7.5 is already just around the corner. They’re looking to add a bunch of features, including:

  • Deeper integration with StoreOnce from HPE using Catalyst-based API, leveraging source-side deduplication
  • Qualification of Azure’s Data Box
  • Cloud mobility – in 7.0 they started down the path with Azure. Zerto Cloud Appliances now autoscale within Azure.

Azure Integration

There’s a lot more focus on Azure in 7.5, and Zerto are working on

  • Managed failback / managed disks in Azure
  • Integration with Azure Active Directory
  • Adding encryption at rest in AWS, and doing some IAM integration
  • Automated driver injection on the fly as you recover into AWS (with Red Hat)

Resource Planner

Building on their previous analytics work, you’ll also be able to (shortly) download Zerto Virtual Manager. This talks to vCenter and can gather data and help customers plan their VMware to VMware (or to Azure / AWS) migrations.

VAIO

Zerto has now completed the initial certification to use VMware’s vSphere APIs for I/O Filtering (VAIO) and they’ll be leveraging these in 7.5. Strechay said they’ll probably have both versions in the product for a little while.

 

Thoughts And Further Reading

I’d spoken with Strechay previously about Zerto’s plans to compete against the “traditional” data protection vendors, and asked him what the customer response has been to Zerto’s ambitions (and execution). He said that, as they’re already off-siting data (as part of the 3-2-1 data protection philosophy), how hard is it to take it to the next level? He said a number of customers were very motivated to use long term retention, and wanted to move on from their existing backup vendors. I’ve waxed lyrical in the past about what I thought some of the key differences were between periodic data protection, disaster recovery, and disaster avoidance were. That doesn’t mean that companies like Zerto aren’t doing a pretty decent job of blurring the lines between the types of solution they offer, particularly with the data mobility capabilities built in to their offerings. I think there’s a lot of scope with Zerto to move into spaces that they’ve previously only been peripherally involved in. It makes sense that they’d focus on data mobility and off-site data protection capabilities. There’s a good story developing with their cloud integration, and it seems like they’ll just continue to add features and capabilities to the product. I really like that they’re not afraid to make promises on upcoming releases and have (thus far) been able to deliver on them.

The news about VAIO certification is pretty big, and it might remove some of the pressure that potential customers have faced previously about adopting protection solutions that weren’t entirely blessed by VMware.

I’m looking forward to see what Zerto ends up delivering with 7.5, and I’m really enjoying the progress they’re making with both their on-premises and public cloud focused solutions. You can read Zerto’s press release here, and Andrea Mauro published a comprehensive overview here.

Random Short Take #15

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 15 – it could become a regular thing. Maybe every other week? Fortnightly even.

Random Short Take #12

Here are a few links to some random news items and other content that I found interesting. You might find it interesting too. Maybe.

  • I’ve been a fan of Backblaze for some time now, and I find their blog posts useful. This one, entitled “A Workflow Playbook for Migrating Your Media Assets to a MAM“, was of particular interest to me.
  • Speaking of Backblaze, this article on SSDs and reliability should prove useful, particularly if you’re new to the technology. And the salty comments from various readers are great too.
  • Zerto just announced the myZerto Labs Program as a way for “IT professionals to test, understand and experiment with the IT Resilience Platform using virtual infrastructure”. You can sign up here.
  • If you’re in the area, I’m speaking at the Sydney VMUG UserCon on Tuesday 19th March. I’ll be covering how to “Build Your Personal Brand by Starting and Maintaining a Blog”. It’s more about blogging than branding, but I’m hoping there’s enough to keep the punters engaged. Details here. If you can’t get along to the event, I’ll likely publish the deck on this site in the near future.
  • The nice people at Axellio had some success at the US Air Force Pitch Day recently. You can read more about that here.
  • UltraViolet is going away. This kind of thing is disheartening (and a big reason why I persist in buying physical copies of things still).
  • I’m heading to Dell Technologies World this year. Michael was on the TV recently, talking about the journey and looking ahead. You can see more here.

Zerto Announces ZVR 6.5

Zerto recently announced version 6.5 of their Zero Virtual Replication (ZVR) product and I had the opportunity to speak with Steve Blow and Caroline Seymour about the announcement.

 

Announcement

More Multi-cloud

Zerto 6.5 includes features that will accelerate this adoption, specifically:

Backup Capabilities

Zerto’s Long Term Retention feature has also been enhanced. You now have the ability to do incremental backups – effectively deliver forever incremental capability – with synthetic fulls as required. There’s also:

  • Support for Microsoft Data Box Edge using standard storage protocols; and
  • The ability to recover individual VMs out of Virtual Protection Groups.

Analytics

Zerto have worked hard to improve their analytics capabilities, providing:

  • Data for quarterly reports, including SLA compliance;
  • Troubleshooting of monthly data anomalies;
  • Enhanced data about VMs including journal size, throughput, IOPS and WAN; and
  • Cloud Service Provider Client Organisational Filter with enhanced visibility to create customer reports and automatically deliver real-time analysis to clients.

 

Events

Zerto have been busy at Microsoft’s Ignite event recently, and are also holding “IT Resilience Roadshow” events in the U.S. and Europe in the next few months in collaboration with Microsoft. There’s a Zerto+Azure workshop being held at each event, as well as the ability to sit for “Zerto+Azure Specialist” Certification. The workshop will give you the opportunity to use Zerto+Azure to:

  • Create a Disaster Recovery environment in Azure;
  • Migrate End of Life Windows Server 2008/SQL Server 2008 to Azure;
  • Migrate your on-premises data centre to Azure; and
  • Move or protect Linux and other workloads to Azure.

 

Thoughts

I’ve been a fan of Zerto for some time. They’ve historically done a lot with DR solutions and are now moving nicely beyond just DR into “IT Resilience”, with a solution that aims to incorporate a range of features. Zerto have also been pretty transparent with the market in terms of their vision for version 7. There’s an on-demand webinar you can register for that will provide some further insights into what that will bring. I’m a fan of their multi-cloud strategy, and I’m looking forward to seeing that continue to evolve.

I like it when companies aren’t afraid to show their hand a little. Too often companies focus on keeping these announcements a big secret until some special event or arbitrary date in a marketing team’s calendar. I know that Zerto haven’t quite finished version 7 yet, but they have been pretty upfront about the direction they’re trying to head in and some of the ways they’re intending to get there. In my opinion this is a good thing, as it gives their customer base time to prepare, and an idea of what capabilities they’ll be able to leverage in the future. Ultimately, Zerto are providing a solution that is geared up to help protect critical infrastructure assets and move data around to where you need it to be (whether it is planned or not). Zerto seem to understand that the element of surprise isn’t really what their customers are in to when looking at these types of solutions. It isn’t always about being the first company to offer this or that capability. Instead, it should be about offering capabilities that actually work reliably.

What’s New With Zerto?

Zerto recently held their annual conference (ZertoCON) last week in Boston. I didn’t attend, but I did have time to catch up with Rob Strechay prior to Zerto making some announcements around the company and future direction. I thought I’d cover those here.

 

IT Resilience Platform

The first announcement revolved around the “IT Resilience Platform“. The idea behind the strategy is that backup, disaster recovery and cloud mobility solutions into a single, simple, scalable platform. Strechay says that “this strategy combines continuous availability, workload mobility, and multi-cloud agility to ensure you can withstand any disruption, leverage new technology seamlessly, and move forward with confidence”. They’ve found that Zerto is being used both for unplanned and planned disruptions, and they’ve also been seeing a lot more activity resolving ransomware and security incidents. From a planned outage perspective, DC consolidation has been a big part of the planned disruption activity as well.

What’s driving this direction? According to Strechay, companies are looking for fewer point solutions. They’re also seeing backup and DR activities converging. Cloud is driving this technology convergence and is changing the way data protection is being delivered.

  • Cloud for backup
  • Cloud for DR
  • Application mobility

“It’s good if it’s done properly”. Zerto tell me they haven’t rushed into this and are not taking the approach lightly. They see IT Resilience as a combination of  Backup, DR Replication, and Hybrid Cloud. Strechay told me that Zerto are going to stay software only and will partner on the hardware side where required. So what does it look like conceptually?

[image courtesy of Zerto]

Think of this as a mode of transport. The analytics and control is like the navigation system, the orchestration and automation layer are the steering wheel, and continuous data protection is the car.

 

Vision for the Future of Backup

Strechay also shared with me Zerto’s vision for the future of backup. In short, “it needs to change”. They really want to move away from the concept of periodic protection to continuous, journal-based protection delivering seconds of RPO at scale to meet customer expectations. How are they going to do this? The key differentiation will be CDP combined with best of breed replication.

 

Zerto 7 Preview

Strechay also shared some high level details of Zerto 7, with key features including:

  • Intelligent index and search
  • Elastic journal
  • Data protection workflows
  • Architecture enhanced
  • LTR targets

There’ll be a new and enhanced user experience – they’re busy revisiting workflows and enhancing a number of them (e.g. reducing clicks, enhanced APIs, etc). They’ll also be looking at features such as prescriptive analytics (what if I added more VMs to this journal?). They’re aiming for a release in Q1 2019.

 

Thoughts

The way we protect data is changing. Companies like Zerto, Rubrik and Cohesity are bringing a new way of thinking to an age old problem. They’re coming at it from slightly different angles as well. This can only be a good thing for the industry. A lot of the technical limitations that we faced previously have been removed in terms of bandwidth and processing power. This provides the opportunity to approach the problem from the business perspective. Rather than saying “we can’t do that”, we have the opportunity to say “we can do that”. That doesn’t mean that scale is a simple thing to manage, but it seems like there are more ways to solve this problem than there have been previously.

I’ve been a fan of Zerto’s approach for some time. I like the idea that a company has shared their new vision for data protection some months out from actually delivering the product. It makes a nice change from companies merely regurgitating highlights from their product release notes (not that that isn’t useful at times). Zerto have a rich history of delivering CDP solutions for virtualised environments, and they’ve made some great inroads with cloud workload protection as well. The idea of moving away from periodic data protection to something continuous is certainly interesting, and obviously fits in well with Zerto’s strengths. It’s possibly not a strategy that will work well in every situation, particularly with smaller environments. But if you’re leveraging replication technologies already, it’s worth looking at how Zerto might be able to deliver a more complete solution for your data protection requirements.

Zerto Announces ZVR 6.0

Zerto recently announced version 6.0 of their Zero Virtual Replication (ZVR) product and I had the opportunity to speak with Rob Strechay (Senior VP, Product) about the announcement.

 

Announcement

Multi-cloud Mobility

Multi-cloud workload mobility is probably the biggest bit of news from the 6.0 release. It provides “inter-cloud and intra-cloud workload mobility and protection between Azure, IBM Cloud, AWS and more than 350 cloud service providers (CSPs)”. This is the culmination of a lot of work by Zerto over the past few years, with support for AWS delivered in 2014, Azure in 2016, and now you have the ability to move workloads between clouds as well. The cool thing about this is that you can do some interesting stuff with workload migration, moving to and from Azure, and also in-between Azure (i.e. region to region).

GCP is on their roadmap, however demand for that functionality has not been as great according to Strechay.

 

Enhanced Analytics Visibility

Zerto’s analytics capability (first announced in ZVR 5.5) has been enhanced as well. Customers now have access to expanded dashboards with:

  • Live network analysis reports for troubleshooting and optimisation;
  • Insights into network throughput and performance;
  • The ability to monitor site-to-site and outbound traffic; and
  • 30 days of network history metrics for any site.

 

Cloud Portal for CSPs

CSPs are still a huge piece of what makes Zerto successful. The new CSP Management Portal will give CSPs the ability to “remotely upgrade customer sites to provide them with continuous availability and latest software releases”. This is a SaaS-delivered service, and will eventually be supported for Enterprise customers as well.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

If you’ve ever been to VMworld (or similar events), you’ll see that Zerto make a big effort to get in front of current (and potential) customers and spread the good word about disaster recovery and disaster avoidance. Not only do they make pretty good t-shirts, they also have a nifty product (and excellent CSP ecosystem) that keeps improving as the years go by. They now support over 6000 customers in over 70 countries and have done quite a bit of work to make disaster recovery for virtual environments a relatively simple undertaking. This simplicity, coupled with some great improvements in cloud workload mobility make it worth a second look.

Disaster recovery (and disaster avoidance), like most data protection activities, isn’t sexy. It’s boring. And you hope you’ll never have to use it. But if you’ve ever had to, you’ll know how kludgy some solutions can be. Zerto has worked hard to not be one of those solutions, instead offering a simple mechanism for workload protection and mobility. If you’re into that kind of thing (and you probably should be), they’re worth checking out.

Zerto Analytics – Seeing Is Understanding

I attended VMworld US in August and had hoped to catch up with Zerto regarding their latest product update (the snappily titled Zerto Virtual Replication 5.5). Unfortunately there were some scheduling issues and we were unable to meet up. I was, however, briefed by them a few weeks later on some of the new features, particularly around the Zerto Analytics capability. This is a short post that focuses primarily on that part of the announcement.

 

Incremental But Important Announcement

If you’re unfamiliar with Zerto, they provide cloud and hypervisor-based workload replication for disaster recovery. They’ve been around since 2010, and the product certainly has its share of fans. The idea behind Zerto Analytics, according to Zerto, is that it “provides real-time and historical analytics on the status and health of multi-site, multi-cloud environments”.

It is deployed on Zerto’s new SaaS platform, is accessible to all Zerto VR customers, and, according to Zerto, “you will be able to quickly visualize your entire infrastructure from a single pane of glass”.

 

The Value

DR is a vital function that a whole bunch of companies don’t understand terribly well. Zerto provide a reasonably comprehensive solution for companies looking to protect their hypervisor-based workloads in multiple locations while leveraging a simple to use interface for recovery. because when it all goes wrong you want it to be easy to come back. The cool thing about Zerto Analytics is that it gives you more than the standard issue status reporting you’ve previously enjoyed. Instead, you can go through historical data to get a better understanding of the replication requirements of your workloads, and the hot and cold times for workloads. I think this is super useful when it comes to (potentially) understanding when planned maintenance needs to occur, and when a good time is to schedule in your test recoveries or data migration activities.

There’s never a good time for a disaster. That’s why they call them disasters. But the more information you have available at the time of a disaster, the better the chances are of you coming out the other end in good shape. The motto at my daughters’ school is “Scientia est Potestas”. This doesn’t actually mean “Science is Potatoes” but is Latin for “Knowledge is Power”. As with most things in IT (and life), a little bit of extra knowledge (in the form of insight and data) can go a long way. Zerto are keen, with this release, to improve the amount of visibility you have into your environment from a DR perspective. This can only be a good thing, particularly when you can consume it across a decent range of platforms.

DR isn’t just about the technology by any stretch. You need an extensive understanding of what’s happening in your environment, and you need to understand what happens to people when things go bang. But one of the building blocks for success, in my opinion, is providing a solid platform for recovery in the event that something goes pear-shaped. Zerto isn’t for everyone, but I get the impression anecdotally that they’re doing some pretty good stuff around making what can be a bad thing into a more positive experience.

 

Read More

Technical documentation on Zerto Virtual Replication 5.5 can be found here. There’s also a great demo on YouTube that you can see here.

Get Along To The Australian VMUG UserCons in 2017

The Sydney and Melbourne VMUG UserCons are now less than a month away. If you’re in the area (or like to travel), I suggest you sign up. You can register for the Melbourne event here and the Sydney one here.

Both events will feature Duncan Epping and Amy Lewis as speakers, with a host of other VMware and community speakers providing insights and information on a range of topics. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn something new, have a bite to eat and network with a bunch of people who are into the same thing as you are. The Sydney event will be held on March 21st at the Westin and the Melbourne event is being held on the 23rd at the Crowne. Thanks to the program sponsors VMware, and platinum sponsors Veeam (for Sydney and Melbourne) and Zerto (for Melbourne).