Interesting new solution - Appliance-based VM replication to DR

Date June 23, 2011

Sorry for the alphabet soup in the title, but I tried to keep it short.

I'm involved in Tech Field Day from time to time, and I follow the #techfieldday hash tag on twitter. Today, they tweeted about a new company, and I followed the link, and I found out that they're doing something pretty cool with VMware-based environments...

The company is Zerto, and they deal with Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR), which is vitally important and one of my favorite topics, to boot!

While they have offerings for cloud providers and for enterprises, it seems from the descriptions that the same services are taking place. So here's how that seems to work, from their descriptions...

There is a Zerto virtual appliance that runs in the vSphere environment. It is in communication with the vCenter servers, and you are provided an additional tab in your vSphere administrative interface that allows you to enable Zerto's replication for the selected VM.

What happens on the back end is probably best described by the diagram they've got on their site:

Basically, they use their virtual appliance to replicate virtual machines and data stores to a DR site, using all kinds of features to improve the process along the way.

The cool part of this is that since it's tied in to vCenter, it addresses the actual vmdk virtual machine files, as opposed to filesystem or LUN-level backups. It can also replicate raw device mappings (RDMs) for when your VM needs LUN-level access.

If you check out the feature list, you'll see what I mean about it having a lot of cool abilities. And if you think that's cool, check the list of stuff on the cloud-provider overview: full API, WAN optimization, and a lot of other stuff.

I don't know whether there's full cross-over of features between cloud-provider and enterprise (but it would be GREAT for enterprises to have access to the API). Hopefully someone will ask that question the next time they show up at Tech Field Day.

Also, since some people have asked, when I talk about Tech Field Day sponsors like this, I don't get paid. When I do get to go to a Tech Field Day, they pay for my flight, room, and board, but that's it. Some sponsors will give stuff to delegates, but when that happens, I'll let you know. I haven't met or talked to anyone from Zerto (and no one asked me to write this), I just thought it sounded like cool technology some of you might find interesting. They are, by their own admission, not for the Small / Medium Business environment, but they still have an interesting solution.

If you've got the time, I highly-recommend watching their Tech Field Day introduction, which allows them to nicely spell out their reasoning behind moving replication out of the storage layer.

Also, Gabe covered this with a really in-depth look at Gabe's Virtual World.