Continuous data protection vendor Zerto defines themselves as a provider of IT resilience rather than backup. However, their Zerto 7 release, which will not be available until next winter, but which was previewed last week at the ZertoCON event in Boston, will blur those lines. Zerto 7 is designed to add traditional backup capabilities around long-term retention into their solution, and thus make a separate backup product redundant in some enterprise use cases. The preannouncement of Zerto 7 was one of three major announcements made at ZertoCON – all of which are closely related. Zerto also announced that their Zerto IT Resilience Platform will now converge backup, disaster recovery and cloud mobility solutions. And they announced their vision of the future of backup, which is around the continuous journal-based protection of Zerto 7.
“We made three key announcements at the event,” said Wright Hall, west area sales leader at Zerto. “First, we are announcing that Zerto is now delivering a converged IT resilience platform that has the ability to deliver a brand regardless of disruption, both planned and unplanned. We have been talking about this for a year plus now, but now we have converged three components of data protection – disaster recovery and replication, a multi-cloud hybrid strategy, and backup into a single platform.” That will remove the need for separate backup, replication, orchestration and migration tools, and allow Zerto 7 to replace multiple solutions in the enterprise.
The second announcement is Zerto’s vision of the future of backup, which is based on Zerto’s new Resilience Platform. It features continuous journal-based protection with a new Elastic Journal that delivers recovery point objectives [RPOs] of seconds at scale — for both short AND long-term data retention. The long-term retention is new, and is designed to displace legacy periodic-based backups.
“We are not becoming a backup provider,” Hall stressed. “We deliver it in a different way than traditional backup. Our primary differentiator is continuous journal-based data protection with best-of-breed replication where we can deliver Point of Time recovery that is very granular.”
“We have been providing continuous data protection for 30 days,” said Chris Tsilipounidakis, Senior Sales Engineer at Zerto. “What if we could do it from 7 seconds to 7 years – and change the target of where those long-term data repositories go.”
The third Zerto announcement is the preannouncement of their Zerto 7 offering – which will feature that continuous journal-based data protection when it becomes available.
“The primary driver with Zerto 7 is the notion of an Elastic Journal, which is a new concept,” Hall said. “You can point to the secondary target of your choice and have the ability to have the same granularity for long term retention that you have always had with Zerto’s journal technology. Everyone now wants a platform approach, but with our heritage in journal-based replication we have the ability to deliver in a way that others can’t.”
Other enhancements in Zerto 7 include the introduction of incremental, synthetic and full copies to increase efficiency and reduce storage needs, enhancements to Zerto’s scale-out architecture, and new on-premise and cloud repository targets.
Zerto 7 will also enhance the platform’s analytics capabilities significantly.
“The analytics is a key for us,” Tsilipounidakis said. “Today the analytics are historical trending. But Zerto 7 will introduce prescriptive analytic capabilities which will let the customer analyze the historical performance to determine optimized business outcomes, and help them answer the ‘what if’ questions.”
While Zerto is emphasizing that they are not intending to become a backup vendor by expanding their long-term retention capabilities, that expansion of capabilities with Zerto 7 will have the affect of displacing legacy backup vendors in some use cases.
“Customers have repeatedly told us that they love Zerto, and that if we could address the three or four things that they hire backup vendor X for, they would love to collapse that into their solution,” Tsilipounidakis said. “So with Zerto 7, we are extending our journal and capabilities and incorporating the most popular features that customers keep their traditional legacy backup for. The way we will do that is by extending the journal capabilities to apply to more long-term retention use cases. We are also evolving our product by extending functionality, including orchestration and automation, into the single platform.”
“You can’t get to no disruption with 15 minute backups,” Hall said. “What we will deliver next winter with Zerto 7 is 7 seconds of RPO, persistent over time, and provide that same level of granularity for up to 7-8 years. This will disrupt the backup business, and give customers a choice that they did not previously have.”
While Zerto says that their preference is to work with backup vendors, they also say that the extension of backup capabilities in Zerto 7 responds to customer demand, as well as to broader changes in the market which is seeing some backup providers extend their own capabilities into Zerto’s space.
“We did a lot of internal R&D among customers to determine what they wanted to be part of Zerto 7,” Tsilipounidakis said. “We think that our years of working with continuous data protection IP gives us an advantage over backup vendors moving into this space. Backup architecture is written fundamentally differently from continuous data protection. Some backup vendors have announced CDP, but we haven’t seen product yet. It’s a lot harder to swim upstream to where we are. It’s easier for us to broaden our reach to move down into that space.”
“A smart Veeam or Commvault seller will recognize that we are better together, rather than try to jury-rig the whole solution themselves,” Hall stated. “However, we are changing the way that we do things because of the voice of the customer.”
Hall acknowledged that Zerto’s partners – who are their entire route to market – have entrenched relationships with preferred backup providers. He indicated Zerto doesn’t see that as an issue, however, because the channel’s customers will also drive the channel’s behavior.
“The voice of the customer will drive that conversation as well,” he said. “Successful solution providers do what their customers want. That will solve that riddle.”