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vRanger Alternatives and Competitors

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Brad Wallick
Vice President of Information Technology at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 10
A really good and easy-to-use product for creating a DR site that you can basically fire up in an instant

Pros and Cons

  • "The file restoration is very helpful. They've improved it over the years to make it a lot more user-friendly and easy to do, which I appreciate. So, we use that quite a bit. The failover process is quite simple and intuitive. Even the configuration and setup are pretty easy to do. It is pretty easy to use. I've done the restoration of servers several times, not as a disaster. When an upgrade on a server goes wrong and it messes things up, I can just fail back to a previous version and try it again. So, that has been really helpful."
  • "We did look at the long-term retention backup feature of Zerto a few years ago, and at that time, it was limited. I can't say what it is right now, but at the time, its functionality was limited in terms of basically where we could save it and how we could save it. Offsite air gapping our backups is important to us to help protect against ransomware, and at the time, it couldn't do that. That would be one area that would be important before we consider using the long-term retention again. I haven't looked at it recently, and they may have addressed this in the meantime, but if not, this would be an area of improvement."

What is our primary use case?

We use Zerto to enable our hot site configuration. We have two data centers. One of them is in one of our corporate buildings, which is our primary, and then we have a co-location center rack that we rent for our hot site backup or app. We use Zerto to replicate our servers and our VMs between those two sites. So, primarily, it is there in case of a disaster or malware attack, etc.

We also use it to restore files on the fly for users if they accidentally delete the wrong file or something like that. From a restoration standpoint, it is closer to the frontline of our security posture. We would first look to restore items. For removing the threat and everything like that, it obviously wouldn't be involved, but from a restoration standpoint, it would be frontline.

We have not yet used the cloud with Zerto. We just use on-prem physical servers. 

How has it helped my organization?

The primary focus of Zerto was to give us the ability to fail over in the event of a disaster. We've gotten pretty close to using it a couple of times, but fortunately, the disaster didn't quite hit us. So, there is the peace of mind to know that we can fail over at any time and keep our operations. We're spread out over a good chunk of the state of Nebraska, and if there is a disaster in one part of the state, our other branches will still be operating in the event of that disaster. So, our primary focus was just to get something that can keep our other branches running in case a disaster happens to a different branch or one of our data centers. So, that peace of mind is what we wanted out of it, IT-wise and management-wise.

It has improved our ability to restore files rather quickly. Previously, we had to use hard backups that we had to pull from nightly backup jobs, which used to take an hour or two, whereas now, we can restore them in minutes and get people working again. So, that's one clear metric that we've done in terms of improvement from the file restoration standpoint, but its primary focus is just a disaster recovery capability.

It provides continuous data protection very well. I have no complaints. It replicates, and we can easily maintain 10 to 15 seconds failover time and replication times. So, we can fail back rather quickly, and when we've done it, it works flawlessly.

When we need to fail back or move workloads, Zerto decreases the time it takes. In the times that I've restored back servers to previous points in time, usually, I'm doing upgrades on those servers in the evening or the middle of the night when nobody is using them. I basically restore those servers back myself. I get the replication process started again and the reverse protection done on my own without any help. I can fail it over and fail it back before the next business day. It is a very easy and one person's job.

It has helped in reducing downtime in those instances where server upgrades go wrong and we can just fail back the server to a previous state before we did the upgrade. It would save probably a good day's worth of downtime on that particular software. We have a server that runs all of our loan processing software. If the upgrade that went wrong broke that software, fixing it would have taken at least a day. So, by being able to restore back to a previous version, we saved the downtime that probably would have costed us thousands of dollars. There would also have been a lot of unhappy customers who couldn't get their loans. It would also have led to bad public relations and things like that.

What is most valuable?

The file restoration is very helpful. They've improved it over the years to make it a lot more user-friendly and easy to do, which I appreciate. So, we use that quite a bit. The failover process is quite simple and intuitive. Even the configuration and setup are pretty easy to do. It is pretty easy to use. I've done the restoration of servers several times, not as a disaster. When an upgrade on a server goes wrong and it messes things up, I can just fail back to a previous version and try it again. So, that has been really helpful.

It is very easy to use. By using their training materials and their site, it doesn't take long to get up to speed as to how the software works and how to configure it. Once you get into the process, it probably takes just four or five hours to get your sites up on-prem, at least for more simple configurations, and get the data replicating between different VPGs. So, it is very easy, all things considered.

What needs improvement?

We did look at the long-term retention backup feature of Zerto a few years ago, and at that time, it was limited. I can't say what it is right now, but at the time, its functionality was limited in terms of basically where we could save it and how we could save it. Offsite air gapping our backups is important to us to help protect against ransomware, and at the time, it couldn't do that. That would be one area that would be important before we consider using the long-term retention again. I haven't looked at it recently, and they may have addressed this in the meantime, but if not, this would be an area of improvement.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Zerto for about six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It seems pretty stable. We really haven't encountered any serious bugs or issues. It is doing its main job of replicating our servers. We can pretty much count on it to be there ready and waiting if something should happen. So, it has been pretty good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We just use the on-prem version. So, as long as we have the capacity to keep up with it, I feel comfortable scaling it up. We don't have a lot of VMs. We probably have about 20 to 30 VMs. We don't push it too hard, but I feel pretty comfortable in growing our infrastructure. It will be able to grow with us.

We just use it on the 30 servers we have. We actually maintain IT infrastructure for two banks, and we have it at both banks in the same configuration with two individual VMware hosts that we replicated in between. We just do it on-prem at the moment. We probably will maintain that structure for the foreseeable future for the next couple of years. We may look into the cloud features a little later on to see what those can offer us. We will then also see moving our infrastructure into the cloud and seeing what we can do with that. 

In terms of users, we have an IT staff of seven. Probably four to five of them use Zerto in some fashion. Two to three of us maintain it and set it up and configure it. Others use it to restore files for users on help desk functions. So, at least 75% of our staff uses it on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure all of our staff have touched it at some point to pull reports, help users, fail servers over, or do things like that. 

How are customer service and technical support?

I probably had to use their tech support three or four times over the past six years, and usually, they're pretty good after we supply them with the logs and the stuff that they need to get to the root cause of the issue and then getting it fixed. They're good. I would rate them a nine out of 10.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used traditional backup with a software called vRanger back in the day before we got Zerto. I don't know if that software exists anymore. We basically use Zerto to do replication between sites. It is for quick and instant disaster recovery, but we still do the physical backups with Veeam. So, it has basically augmented our restoration capabilities rather than truly replacing our backup solution. It hasn't saved us any costs in managing our legacy solutions. Adding Veeam and Zerto together, I know we're paying more than what we paid before we added them or before we had either of them. The additional features are what we really wanted out of it, so the extra cost is worth it.

So, we use Zerto to give us a quick replication and file restoration ability, but we also use Veeam to do traditional physical backups that we can store offsite. If something happens to a server, we can quickly fall back on the replicated snapshot and restore the server quickly. We use the physical offsite backups with Veeam to store those on portable hard drives that we store in the vaults. So, there are air gaps so that ransomware can't get to them.

Zerto provides both backup and DR in one platform, but because we don't use Zerto's backup features, this feature is not super important for us at this time. We may look at that again to see how they've evolved that product over the past few years to see if it is more valuable to us, but as of now, it is not critical because we don't use it. In our eyes, Veeam and Zerto do two different things. So, we use both products to accomplish separate goals.

Zerto is easier to configure and set up than Veeam. Veeam can be a little tricky to make sure you have all the settings correct. From a restoration standpoint, they're probably both on par with each other. It is pretty easy to restore things in Veeam. It is just the initial configuration of getting everything lined up that is a little tougher.

How was the initial setup?

It has been pretty straightforward. Initially, when we first got out of the gate with Zerto, we did have a third party to help us set it up, but we rebuilt it about a year later. We did that on our own, and it was surprisingly easy. It pretty much took a quick and free training course on their site. After that, I was up to enough speed to get it set up for us. It took four or five hours of training, and it was very easy. It took a day when I implemented it.

In terms of the implementation strategy, basically, we just wanted to get two sites set up, one on each data center. So, we set up two sites there with the appliances, and then we set up an individual VPG for each VM server. After that, we got them replicating. We set up our retention time and all that, and we were done.

For its deployment, there are two people at most. Usually, there is one. Zerto is easy enough to use, and one person can usually do whatever task is necessary to do in Zerto, whether it is setting up configuration or servers or restoring files. Usually, it is only a one-person job. If it is a more in-depth configuration, then you might need one more person for another pair of eyes to make sure everything looks right.

What about the implementation team?

We initially had a third party to help us set it up, but now, we do it on our own. They are probably called The Integrators now. Our experience with them was not too bad. Once I learned how to set it up and how much work was involved and stuff like that, we probably overpaid for what it was at the time, but we weren't 100% familiar or comfortable with it at the time. So, it was a good experience. Obviously, they knew what they were doing, and they got it set up correctly. There was nothing wrong from a technical standpoint. Only the pricing standpoint was probably a little off but not too bad.

What was our ROI?

We have not done a return on investment. We aren't planning on doing one at this point. We know what we've got out of it, but we have not done a formal ROI.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Its licensing is yearly. You can do multi-year contracts, which is what we did. You pay per VM, and you replicate a license per VM. So, we bought about 20 licenses. We paid somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000.

There is an initial upfront cost. Basically, you buy the license, and then you have a maintenance cost on top of that. So, the upfront cost is somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000. The maintenance is $5,000 to $10,000 over a three-year period.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did look at other options. VMware has a replication software capability as well. We did take a look at that. Zerto was an easier and cheaper solution to accomplish what we were looking for, and it has been pretty good.

What other advice do I have?

It is a really good product for creating yourself a DR site that you can basically fire up in an instant. If you're looking for getting a hot site for your company and you are looking for something that in the event of a disaster or ransomware can quickly restore files for you, Zerto is a good product for that. I don't think it is terribly expensive for what it does, and it is really easy to use. I would definitely recommend Zerto if you're looking for a hot site setup.

We have not had to use it for ransomware yet. We've been fortunate. That was actually one of the reasons we did get it back in 2015. At the time, we were getting hit by ransomware.  We've invested heavily into security measures since then and haven't gotten hit with ransomware. So, we haven't had to use it for data recovery in situations due to ransomware, but it is a part of the incident response plan in case we do have to use it that way.

We do not use Zerto for long-term retention. We will probably evaluate the idea, but right now, we're pretty happy with the long-term retention product that we use. At this time, there is no firm commitment to switch over.

Zerto has not particularly reduced the number of staff involved in a data recovery situation. It has probably reduced the manhours required to maintain, but we're a Jack of all trades staff, so everybody has their hands in everything. So, it really hasn't reduced the number of staff, but it has reduced the overall hours of maintenance a little bit. It has also not reduced the number of staff involved in overall backup in DR management. There is still a decent amount of staff involved in the overall process, but the overall hours for maintenance have been reduced.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from using Zerto is that having a good DR configuration setup doesn't have to be a painful process. Zerto is a good software for just giving you that capability without you having to have a deep background and a lot of complicated software. The ability to restore and the ability to have a DR site on the fly is really valuable to our company. So, that's what we've been doing.

I would rate Zerto a nine out of 10.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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