Zerto beefs up Virtual Replication suite with off-site backup

Zerto off-site backup is a key new feature to its Virtual Replication suite, but the vendor emphasizes its backup built specifically for the DR process.

Zerto this week boosted the functionality of its Virtual Replication suite for disaster recovery of VMware systems, adding off-site backup of metadata for rebuilding virtual machines.

Zerto sells hypervisor-based replication that works with VMWare's vSphere and is used for disaster recovery. Version 3.5 adds a Zerto Backup Appliance to the product suite and expands the features in Zerto Virtual Manager and Virtual Replication Appliance.

The enhancements in Zerto Virtual Replication 3.5 are designed to reduce recovery times and recovery point objectives by backing up multiple virtual machines (VMs) as a single package of data stored in a cloud. Zerto's upgrade also includes direct support for VMware's Virtual SAN (VSAN).

The Zerto Backup Appliance is a service installed on the target site Zerto Virtual Manager and enables off-site backup. The Zerto Backup Appliance works in vCenter and vCloud and can back up to any SMB share. As its capabilities are expanded, the Backup Appliance service eventually will run as a standalone virtual appliance, said Shannon Snowden, Zerto's senior technical marketing architect.

The off-site backup feature is geared to enterprises that replicate data across "virtual protection groups" that typically encompass dozens of VMs or more.

Enterprises will be able to shift VM backup from production environments to replication target sites, said Jennifer Gill, Zerto's director of global product marketing.

Zerto uses journaling for continuous data backup. By default, the Virtual Replication suite lets users back up VM metadata for up to one year (up from five days in previous Zerto versions). By adding the appliance to VMware's hypervisor technology, users will be able to extend recovery times based on predetermined milestones. A restore is done just like a disaster recovery (DR) failover operation.

"We're keeping it very simple. No grandfather, no father, no child -- none of that. We're not trying to be a backup product -- we're trying to augment what we do. We offer a different way to protect data," Snowden said.

Zerto's off-site backup lacks traditional backup features such as deduplication, snapshots and the ability to restore single files. It is intended to be used as an adjunct to third-party cloud storage for restoring virtual machines. It backs up a package of VM metadata -- essentially a large .zip file that enables VMs to be reconstituted -- to an off-site cloud. Enterprises that need to reconstitute VMs move the file back to their VMware infrastructure for restoration.

VMware VSAN support should appeal to service providers who want to virtualize storage. VSAN, introduced by VMware in March, integrates with vSphere hypervisor to present spinning media and solid-state drives as a virtual pool of storage.

Zerto's enterprise license permits up to 15 virtual machines and sells for roughly $14,000, Gill said.

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