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Zerto OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Zerto is #2 ranked solution in best Backup and Recovery Software, top Cloud Backup tools, and top Disaster Recovery Software. IT Central Station users give Zerto an average rating of 10 out of 10. Zerto is most commonly compared to Veeam Backup & Replication:Zerto vs Veeam Backup & Replication. Zerto is popular among the midsize enterprise segment, accounting for 51% of users researching this solution on IT Central Station. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a computer software company, accounting for 31% of all views.
What is Zerto?

Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, empowers customers to run an always-on business by simplifying the protection, recovery, and mobility of on-premises and cloud applications. Zerto’s cloud data management and protection platform eliminates the risks and complexity of modernization and cloud adoption across private, public, and hybrid deployments. The simple, software-only platform uses continuous data protection at scale to converge disaster recovery, backup, and data mobility. Zerto is trusted by over 9,500 customers globally and is powering offerings for Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, AWS, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and more than 350 managed service providers.

Zerto was previously known as Zerto Virtual Replication.

Zerto Buyer's Guide

Download the Zerto Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: November 2021

Zerto Customers

United Airlines, HCA, XPO Logistics, TaxSlayer, McKesson, Insight Global, Spirit Airlines, Tencate, Aaron’s, Grey’s County, Epiq. JLL, KIND Snacks, Kingston Technologies

Zerto Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Zerto pricing:
  • "It's very reasonably priced. It's a little more than $3,000 annually. That works out to about $20 per server per month."
  • "If you are an IT person and you think that DR is too expensive then the cloud option from Zerto is good because anyone can afford to use it, as far as getting one or two of their criticals protected."
  • "It's very equitable, otherwise you wouldn't do it. It's something that we utilize for the licenses per core as far as what we're backing up. Therefore, it's very cost-efficient as far as the licensing goes. For the amount of stuff that we're backing up and what we're utilizing it for, the licensing is not very expensive at all."
  • "There is a one-time cost for maintenance and support. We have a three-year contract that we will have to renew when those three years come up. There is also licensing on top of that for whatever product you are using it for."
  • "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."
  • "I'd like to see better tiering for Zerto's pricing. We do multi-tier VMs. I don't think I should be paying a penalty and price for a tier-three VM where I don't need a really tight SLA like I do for a tier-one."

Zerto Reviews

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JustinCarroll
Director of IT at Arnott Inc
Real User
Gives us business continuity capabilities during hurricane season and in case of ransomware

Pros and Cons

  • "If we had to deal with a ransomware event, Zerto would be one of the first things I would use, because it is going to be the fastest to restore data to a certain point. If there were a fire in our building, Zerto would be a big thing too, because we would shut down everything that's in our building. In most cases, Zerto is definitely one of the front lines. It's definitely going to be one of our prevalent DRBC layers of protection."
  • "If I were to nitpick, I would say that I wish I had a better account manager. Our sales guy has changed a couple of times. I would like a little more responsiveness from our account manager. I've had a couple of issues where getting in touch with him has been a little difficult, and I end up just going around him and dealing with support and support has handled it right away."

What is our primary use case?

We have two primary use cases. One would be to use it in reaction to a cyber-terror event, particularly ransomware, because Zerto has point-in-time backup. If we find an area that needs to be restored, as long as we figure it out within 24 hours, which is approximately the amount of time we have replicated, we can go back to a point in time. Let's say the files got encrypted at 9:30 AM. We can say restore our 9:29 AM copy of what the data looked like at that point. We have not needed to use that, thankfully, because we've been educating our users very well.

The other case that we would use it for is because we're in a hurricane area. Our particular office is actually in an evacuation area, typically, meaning that we're close enough to the coast that should a hurricane event come through, they generally force us out of the area. What we would do if we needed it, and thankfully we haven't yet, would be to shut down our primary on-prem services to make them a little bit more resistant to water damage. Obviously, if they're not running, they're a little bit less likely to get zapped if there is some water damage. Then we can bring up the copies that we have at our data center and run remotely from that if. It doesn't have a full copy of our entire environment, but it does have a copy of our ERP system, as far as sales are concerned. We wouldn't be able to ship anything, but we could look at orders and help our customers. We could even take orders if we needed to, although we wouldn't be able to process them.

Zerto is a replication solution. It copies our setup which is on-prem to our data center, which is also somewhat local, about 15 miles away. It doesn't really do anything in the cloud other than move data across it. We're not replicating to any cloud-based services like Amazon or Azure. Essentially, we're using it at two on-premises locations: Our primary location, which is what is being replicated, and the replicated copy is being stored at another on-premises location, nearby.

How has it helped my organization?

Zerto is purely a business continuity and disaster recovery tool. We don't want to have either one of our primary use case events happen, but if they should happen, it gives us an extra layer of protection. I've got Amazon backups with stuff in completely different regions, but Zerto is more for those two specific scenarios I mentioned. In addition, if somebody deletes a file and it's really important that they have the latest copy of it, Zerto gives us that option. But it really comes down to the ransomware reactions and the hurricane support, because hurricanes are fairly common in this area. The last hurricane event here was before I had Zerto and we had to shut everything down. We really couldn't do much while the hurricane came through. The business wanted something that would give us some protection in that scenario. That's the business continuity aspect. At least we can provide some business capabilities this way. With Zerto, they'll also be able to access a limited functionality version of our system. It definitely provides upper management with a little bit of comfort that we won't be completely down in either a ransomware or a hurricane event.

We're a smaller company. We're owned by a portfolio company, and they're the ones who made a lot of these extra layers of protection happen. Zerto provides me with the comfort of one of those layers. It enables me to make a strong case to my board of directors that, "Yeah, we're good." There's a guy in our board of directors who's something of a tech guy. I can look him in the eye and say, "Hey, we're not bulletproof. We can never be bulletproof, but we're about as close to bulletproof as we can be, especially for a company our size." That's important to the board because they have other companies that aren't as well-protected as we are. I've had conversations with a couple of the guys at those other companies, because they're interested in looking at something like Zerto, and I have been highly recommending it to them. It's a reasonable cost, it provides several layers of protection from ransomware, and if necessary, against natural disasters. I'm very happy to say that Zerto is one of those layers and provides us with very good protection for what it specifically does.

We had two ransomware events prior to being owned by the company that owns us now. Both were events where somebody clicked on a link that they shouldn't have and something ran and encrypted some of our stuff. Now we're much more solidly protected from that, and Zerto is definitely one of the big things protecting us.

If we had to deal with a ransomware event, Zerto would be one of the first things I would use, because it is going to be the fastest to restore data to a certain point. If there were a fire in our building, Zerto would be a big thing too, because we would shut down everything that's in our building. In most cases, Zerto is definitely one of the front lines. It's definitely going to be one of our prevalent DRBC layers of protection.

When you need to fail back or move workloads, Zerto significantly decreases the time it takes. As long as it's one of those scenarios in which we foresee using it, it's great. When we did our two failover tests, it was easy to failover to the other location where we have the replicated copies. The last time we had an actual ransomware event, which was before we had Zerto, it took me 30 hours to restore all the data that I needed to restore. I would imagine Zerto would take 10 to 20 percent of that time.

In terms of saving staff time, I only have three people on my staff, so I'm not going to save human resources by using Zerto. That being said, what it does save me is the trouble of having to use another solution that would take a lot of time. I only engage my guys who work on Zerto for six to 10 hours a year, versus having somebody on staff. That's a significant savings for us, because we don't need somebody on staff who knows how to do things with it. It is pretty easy to use for somebody who's familiar with it and uses it on a regular basis. For example, when I do the upgrade, I'll pay guys to do it because that's what they do.

We have secondary, older equipment where our Zerto backup copy resides. We moved that old hardware to our secondary location and got new stuff in our primary location. Our primary location now copies, via Zerto, to the other location that has our old equipment. It's not quite cloud, but it is in a different location. And it's definitely saving us money in the long-term by not having to pay for cloud storage because we have put it on our older stuff, and it works fine for that scenario.

We did a test turning it back on and rethinking it, and that took a reasonable amount of time. A lot of that is not actually limited by Zerto. It's more limited by your pipeline between your backup location and your primary location. Zerto was very helpful, and it's very easy to use from that standpoint. Once you reconnect the two sites, it does a snapshot check of where it left off and then it copies back over the changes that happened while it was running on your secondary site. That's not automatic. You have to touch it. But it's certainly not super-technical.

What is most valuable?

Our two primary use cases are Zerto's biggest features for us. That's what we use it for. There may be other situations where it can come in handy, but those are our two primary scenarios.

In terms of providing continuous data protection, Zerto has been great so far. Thankfully, we haven't had an event where we have really needed to rely on it, but we have done a couple of tests prior to hurricane season where we disconnect our primary facility. We then go over to our secondary facility where the replicated data is and we bring everything up and then we do remote access to that location to make sure that it's all working properly. It's very capable. I've also done a couple of test scenarios on ransomware reaction where I'll go in and restore a folder, after hours when nobody is in the system, to emulate a situation where we might need to go back and restore kit encrypted files. So far, it's been great.

Regarding the ease of use, there's a web portal that I use to verify that everything is working well. It has a lot of notifications and it emails me if there's anything going on that's out of the ordinary. For example, if the connection to one of my other sites goes down, it will let me know that it's not able to reach that site. I'm very happy with the way the interface works for my needs, and my tech has been pretty happy with it. Our installation is rather small. We only have 14 servers on it. I'm sure there are other companies that have hundreds, but I imagine that they would see the same capabilities. The web portal is pretty well organized and easy to navigate.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Zerto for just about three years. We just re-upped the maintenance on it and, until that point, we had a three-year plan for it.

We're on version 7.5, but I've had some discussions with my partner where we have the replication stored. We're doing an upgrade, but we ran out of time before hurricane season so we decided to hold off until after that. We're going to move up to 8.5 as soon as hurricane season is over, but I didn't want to risk getting into a situation where we didn't have Zerto working at all. And version 7.5 has been working fine. There was no real need to do the upgrade, other than to stay current.

We're about a version behind. I generally stay at least a half-a-version behind to let everybody else do all the sorting out of anything that they might find with the new versions, and then I jump on the second-oldest version, once that's a little more mature.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of Zerto itself has been fine. We have some network instability that affects it, but I see the alerts come through and it's not Zerto that is having trouble. Zerto itself is very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is not really applicable to our situation, but I would imagine that it would be easy to scale if needed. We would just buy additional licenses and strategize a little bit about how we were going to add them.

We only have 15 server licenses, but I expect we'll have some growth as we have a couple of projects upcoming. We're probably going to need another server, so even though we're retiring a few servers, I'll leave the licenses. I won't probably be in any position to make it bigger any time soon, but you never know. Our company always has its eye out for acquisitions. Last year we picked up two companies, although they didn't really result in any major increase in our infrastructure. Maybe we'll pick up somebody similar in size to us and all of a sudden we'll need to protect 10 more servers. I don't have any plans for downsizing Zerto.

How are customer service and technical support?

If I were to nitpick, I would say that I wish I had a better account manager. Our sales guy has changed a couple of times. I would like a little more responsiveness from our account manager. I've had a couple of issues where getting in touch with him has been a little difficult, and I end up just going around him and dealing with support and support has handled it right away.

I've only had to deal with their tech support a few times, and I would give them a nine out of 10. They've been pretty responsive. They've answered my questions. They've gotten things taken care of.

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

Before Zerto, I just restored backups. We have Veeam as our primary backup system. Veeam is a traditional backup system. In those ransomware events I mentioned, I literally had to go through and restore a bunch of stuff from different servers from our backup repository, which is onsite. I had to go back and restore this folder and that folder and this folder and that folder. I would sort of have to do that with Zerto, but it would be a lot easier. I could just pick the folder and pick the time, and say, "Go." With Veeam it was definitely a much more complicated process.

We didn't "switch" to Zerto, we added it. We still have our other solution. While there is disaster recovery where you're recovering from a disaster, business continuity is how fast you recover from disaster; how quickly you get the business going again. Zerto reduces our RPOs. It was more a case of added protection and it reduces our recovery times—even though thankfully we've never had to use it—compared to the last time we had to recover.

Zerto came highly recommended from our primary VAR, which is Presidio, the place we bought it from. They said it would do exactly what we needed it to do, and the price was reasonable. I took the recommendation, did some research on them. It's possible I looked at reviews on IT Central Station and someone there said, "Oh yeah, Zerto is great." That's good enough for me. I didn't need to spend a ton of time on it. As long as they've got good reviews from multiple sources, which I did find when I researched Zerto, and it came highly recommended from our VAR, those were two pros and I didn't need to go looking for a con.

What about the implementation team?

I didn't actually set up the software. I had to pay somebody else to do that because it was a little beyond my team's capabilities. Our deployment took about six hours from start to finish. The guy that I worked with said that he was pretty happy with it. He had to send in a couple of help tickets, and they were very responsive and were able to help him get through the issues that he had.

He's from an IT support firm called Creative Network Innovations, and they also have an onsite data center, so they offer data center support services in addition to regular IT support services. In this case, Zerto is data-center related. We use Creative Network Innovations because it's related to what they do for us, and they have people on staff who are comfortable working with it. Even though they don't necessarily do Zerto all the time, they were able to step in, take a look at it, and sort it out for us, so that was good.

I wouldn't necessarily say that they're experts in the software, because they learned it for us. They're not typical Zerto implementers, but that speaks to how easy Zerto is to use. They had never really used it, but they were able to pick it up, plug it in, and get it working for us.

In terms of deployment time, the Zerto piece didn't take long. It was about six hours. What we had to do in terms of setting up networking, that was a little different. The whole project, including Zerto, took about 12 to 16 hours. And when we did our first failover test, that probably took another six hours, because we had to figure out all the nuances of how to make it handle the various servers that we have.

It depends on the size of your installation. Because we're fairly small, it didn't require a lot of involvement. Most of it is Windows-based, so it's not that hard to install and set up. Things like getting access through the VPN, which weren't necessarily Zerto-specific, are what took a little time, but the Zerto piece was pretty fast.

It's a backup piece for us. We didn't really get that fancy. We basically identified the servers we needed to replicate offsite. Then we installed Zerto on our primary location and we installed Zerto on our secondary location. And we created the communication.

In terms of users, I'm the only one in our organization who monitors Zerto, and I do very little of that.

What was our ROI?

I would estimate that if I had to recover from a scenario like the last one that affected us, it would take me 10 to 20 percent of the time it took me at that time. That reduces the amount of time that our system is down and, therefore, the amount of money we're losing because our system is down. It does provide some cost-benefit, but it's hard to quantify, because nobody has said, "In our company, we lose $X an hour when we're down." But when things are down, people are not happy. If nothing else, it means I hear less griping, and that makes me happier.

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

They have an enterprise-type of licensing scenario, which we didn't qualify for because we don't have enough. Ours is pretty straightforward. It is site-based, but the payment concepts are based on the number of servers. In our case, we have a quantity of 15. When we bought it, there was an initial purchase amount plus maintenance. When it came up for renewal, we did three more years, and it was under $10,000 for my 15 servers.

It's very reasonably priced. It's a little more than $3,000 annually. That works out to about $20 per server per month.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our backup recovery software, Veeam, is working on a product that will compete with Zerto. But it's still very new. It has not been out for very long, so I don't anticipate us going away from Zerto any time soon. That being said, when our renewal comes up with Zerto, I might reevaluate and look at Veeam and see if their solution is going to cover what Zerto does, because then I have one vendor to deal with, not that I dislike dealing with Zerto. It's just sometimes it's nicer to put all of your stuff into one package because the interfaces are uniform.

At this point in time, Zerto is safe with us. We've got them for three more years, and it does exactly what we need it to. Is it going to be our daily backup and our long-term retention? At this point in time, no. I'm pretty happy with what Veeam does and how it integrates with VMware, not that Zerto does a poor job. Zerto covers a different area.

It's kind of like if you were wearing armor, as a knight of old, but you were missing a piece on your back. If somebody stabbed you in the back, if you had armor there, you wouldn't worry about it. Zerto covers our "back." It covers stuff that Veeam doesn't. It handles point-in-time backups and it gives us a faster recovery in certain scenarios. It's not going to necessarily protect us from a full on-premises failure, because I don't have it doing that. I bought it specifically to defend us from certain types of attacks. We have Zerto handling 14 servers but we have a total of 20 servers. It's not backing up the other six, Veeam is, but that's because I don't need those to be protected from ransomware. I need them to be protected from system failure or catastrophic disaster where our primary location is under 20 feet of water from a hurricane, or the whole thing burns down. Zerto is not going to protect us from that, although it possibly could. We just don't use it for that.

It provides us some niche protection and we're happy with the niche that it protects.

What other advice do I have?

Because we're a smaller company, I would never need a full-time person to do disaster recovery, whereas a company with several thousand employees and multiple billions of dollars of revenue would probably have a team for that. I would imagine those guys would save people if they had Zerto, but that's just me imagining that, rather than it being fact.

If I had 1,000 servers, it might require more of my time, but we have 14. We have a board of directors that wants things to be bulletproof, and they're willing to pay for it. Do we need Zerto? Probably not. Is it nice to have? For sure. But we certainly don't use it in the typical use environment, which I'm sure is a lot more servers than we have. That being said, we still use it, and I highly recommend it, even for companies of our size, although it's probably not the sweet spot for a lot of companies like ours. It's kind of pricey for smaller companies, but for what it does, I think the value is exceptional.

For companies of our size, if you don't have somebody on staff who can use Zerto, you want to find the right help. Your VMware person should be able to help you with it. Make sure that you're comfortable with what you're trying to accomplish. I thought it was a pretty smooth implementation, as you can tell from the time that it took. That might be in part due to the people we enlisted to help us. I can't say that everybody's installation will go that smoothly, but I would imagine that if you have a pretty solid VMware-type person, you should be pretty good with the Zerto piece. It's really a matter of working on the VMware side of it. There is also a little bit of networking, depending on where you're backing up to.

If you're backing up to the cloud, you obviously need somebody who is cloud-savvy who can get the proper connections to your AWS and secure them.

Overall, make sure you have somebody who is VMware-savvy. You don't necessarily need somebody who is specifically Zerto-savvy. The guys that I worked with said that it was pretty easy to work with, even though they hadn't worked with it before. But again, ours was a smaller installation. A Fortune 500 company is going to need a little bit more capability. They're going to want to look for a Zerto-certified implementer, which I presume there are. We didn't bother with that because we're smaller and we didn't really have anything particularly difficult in our implementation.

In terms of preventing downtime, in our situation Zerto hasn't helped reduce that, but it's not because Zerto is not capable of doing so. It's just that we haven't had a situation like that in which it has needed to be used. We haven't had any incidents that required the use of the Zerto fallback.

The biggest lesson I've learned from using Zerto is that I wish I had known about it six years ago. I wish that I had known about its capabilities. Given that it's on version 8.5, it's been around for a while. I really wish we would have had it when we actually had a need for it.

If we ever need it, we're confident in it, given the test scenarios we've gone through where it's been great. It's a nice "warm blanket," and it's good to "cuddle" underneath it, because I don't have to worry about it. If I have an event, I'm pretty confident that I can get us back up and running quickly. Is it going to be instantaneous? Of course not. But it's going to take significantly less time than it would take if I had to react via a manual backup.

Zerto is "the bomb." I'm definitely happy we got it. Overall, it's reasonably priced. It's one of the less expensive business continuity and disaster recovery layers that we have. That being said, it doesn't do everything. We're a smaller shop. There are only three people on my IT team, including me. It's definitely been a very helpful tool and comforting to know that we have it in place. It makes it easier to sleep at night. For what we need it for, it does everything we need.

Zerto is a nine out of 10 and maybe even close to a 10. It's solid. It's a good product. It does what we need it to do. Since we haven't actually had a live event, I can't say that it's perfect, but in the tests we have run it through it has been great. The only blemish has been dealing with the account manager, which could be situational. I've only had to deal with him a few times. The last time he didn't even respond to me. That being said, it's been three years, and maybe he's moved on and nobody is monitoring his email box. And when I reached out to support, they took care of me right away. So the account management is a minor blemish. Everything else, as far as the product and support go, has been fantabulous.

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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John Leitgeb
IT Director at Kingston Technology
Real User
Top 20
Easy-to-use interface, good telemetry data, and the support is good

Pros and Cons

  • "If we lost our data center and had to recover it, Zerto would save us a great deal of time. In our testing, we have found that recovering the entire data center would be completed within a day."
  • "The onset of configuring an environment in the cloud is difficult and could be easier to do."

What is our primary use case?

Originally, I was looking for a solution that allowed us to replicate our critical workloads to a cloud target and then pay a monthly fee to have it stored there. Then, if some kind of disaster happened, we would have the ability to instantiate or spin up those workloads in a cloud environment and provide access to our applications. That was the ask of the platform.

We are a manufacturing company, so our environment wouldn't be drastically affected by a webpage outage. However, depending on the applications that are affected, being a $15 billion dollar company, there could be a significant impact.

How has it helped my organization?

Zerto is very good in terms of providing continuous data protection. Now bear in mind the ability to do this in the cloud is newer to them than what they've always done traditionally on-premises. Along the way, there are some challenges when working with a cloud provider and having the connectivity methodology to replicate the VMs from on-premises to Azure, through the Zerto interface, and make sure that there's a healthy copy of Zerto in the cloud. For that mechanism, we spent several months working with Zerto, getting it dialed in to support what we needed to do. Otherwise, all of the other stuff that they've been known to do has worked flawlessly.

The interface is easy to use, although configuring the environment, and the infrastructure around it, wasn't so clear. The interface and its dashboard are very good and very nice to use. The interface is very telling in that it provides a lot of the telemetry that you need to validate that your backup is healthy, that it's current, and that it's recoverable.

A good example of how Zerto has improved the way our organization functions is that it has allowed us to decommission repurposed hardware that we were using to do the same type of DR activity. In the past, we would take old hardware and repurpose it as DR hardware, but along with that you have to have the administration expertise, and you have to worry about third-party support on that old hardware. It inevitably ends up breaking down or having problems, and by taking that out of the equation, with all of the DR going to the cloud, all that responsibility is now that of the cloud provider. It frees up our staff who had to babysit the old hardware. I think that, in and of itself, is enough reason to use Zerto.

We've determined that the ability to spin up workloads in Azure is the fastest that we've ever seen because it sits as a pre-converted VM. The speed to convert it and the speed to bring it back on-premises is compelling. It's faster than the other ways that we've tried or used in the past. On top of that, they employ their own compression and deduplication in terms of replicating to a target. As such, the whole capability is much more efficient than doing it the way we were doing it with Rubrik.

If we lost our data center and had to recover it, Zerto would save us a great deal of time. In our testing, we have found that recovering the entire data center would be completed within a day. In the past, it was going to take us close to a month. 

Using Zerto does not mean that we can reduce the number of people involved in a failover.  You still need to have expertise with VMware, Zerto, and Azure. It may not need to be as in-depth, and it's not as complicated as some other platforms might be. The person may not have to be such an expert because the platform is intuitive enough that somebody of that level can administer it. Ultimately, you still need a human body to do it.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the speed at which it can instantiate VMs. When I was doing the same thing with Rubrik, if I had 30 VMs on Azure and I wanted to bring them up live, it would take perhaps 24 hours. Having 1,000 VMs to do, it would be very time-consuming. With Zerto, I can bring up almost 1,000 VMs in an hour. This is what I really liked about Zerto, although it can do a lot of other things, as well.

The deduplication capabilities are good.

What needs improvement?

The onset of configuring an environment in the cloud is difficult and could be easier to do. When it's on-premises, it's a little bit easier because it's more of a controlled environment. It's a Windows operating system on a server and no matter what server you have, it's the same.

However, when you are putting it on AWS, that's a different procedure than installing it on Azure, which is a different procedure than installing it on GCP, if they even support it. I'm not sure that they do. In any event, they could do a better job in how to build that out, in terms of getting the product configured in a cloud environment.

There are some other things they can employ, in terms of the setup of the environment, that would make things a little less challenging. For example, you may need to have an Azure expert on the phone because you require some middleware expertise. This is something that Zerto knew about but maybe could have done a better job of implementing it in their product.

Their long-term retention product has room for improvement, although that is something that they are currently working on.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been with Zerto for approximately 10 years. We were probably one of the first adopters on the platform.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

With respect to stability, on-premises, it's been so many years of having it there that it's baked in. It is stable, for sure. The cloud-based deployment is getting there. It's strong enough in terms of the uptime or resilience that we feel confident about getting behind a solution like this.

It is important to consider that any issues with instability could be related to other dependencies, like Azure or network connectivity or our on-premises environment. When you have a hybrid environment between on-premises and the cloud, it's never going to be as stable as a purely on-premises or purely cloud-based deployment. There are always going to be complications.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a scalable product. We tested scalability starting with 10 VMs and went right up to 100, and there was no difference. We are an SMB, on the larger side, so I wouldn't know what would happen if you tried to run it with 50,000 VMs. However, in an SMB-sized environment, it can definitely handle or scale to what we do, without any problems.

This is a global solution for us and there's a potential that usage will increase. Right now, it is protecting all of our criticals but not everything. What I mean is that some VMs in a DR scenario would not need to be spun up right away. Some could be done a month later and those particular ones would just fall into our normal recovery process from our backup. 

The backup side is what we're waiting on, or relying on, in terms of the next ask from Zerto. Barring that, we could literally use any other backup solution along with Zerto. I'm perfectly fine doing that but I think it would be nice to use Zerto's backup solution in conjunction with their DR, just because of the integration between the two.  

How are customer service and technical support?

In general, the support is pretty good. They were just acquired by HP, and I'm not sure if that's going to make things better or worse. I've had experiences on both sides, but I think overall their support's been very good.

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

Zerto has not yet replaced any of our legacy backup products but it has replaced our DR solution. Prior to Zerto, we were using Rubrik as our DR solution. We switched to Zerto and it was a much better solution to accommodate what we wanted to do. The reason we switched had to do with support for VMware.

When we were using Rubrik, one of the problems we had was that if I instantiated the VM on Azure, it's running as an Azure VM, not as a VMware VM. This meant that if I needed to bring it back on-premises from Azure, I needed to convert it back to a VMware VM. It was running as a Hyper-V VM in Azure, but I needed an ESX version or a VMware version. At the time, Rubrik did not have a method to convert it back, so this left us stuck.

There are not a lot of other DR solutions like this on the market. There is Site Recovery Manager from VMware, and there is Zerto. After so many years of using it, I find that it is a very mature platform and I consider it easy to use. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is complex. It may be partly due to our understanding of Azure, which I would not put at an expert level. I would rate our skill at Azure between a neophyte and the mid-range in terms of understanding the connectivity points with it. In addition to that, we had to deal with a cloud service provider.

Essentially, we had to change things around, and I would not say that it was easy. It was difficult and definitely needed a third party to help get the product stood up.

Our deployment was completed within a couple of months of ending the PoC. Our PoC lasted between 30 and 60 days, over which time we were able to validate it. It took another 60 days to get it up and running after we got the green light to purchase it.

We're a multisite location, so the implementation strategy started with getting it baked at our corporate location and validating it. Then, build out an Azure footprint globally and then extend the product into those environments. 

What about the implementation team?

We used a company called Insight to assist us with implementation. We had a previous history with one of their engineers, from previous work that we had done. We felt that he would be a good person to walk us through the implementation of Zerto. That, coupled with the fact that Zerto engineers were working with us as well. We had a mix of people supporting the project.

We have an infrastructure architect who's heading the project. He validates the environment, builds it out with the business partners and the vendor, helps figure out how it should be operationalized, configure it, and then it gets passed to our data protection group who has admins that will basically administrate the platform and it maintains itself.

Once the deployment is complete, maintaining the solution is a half-person effort. There are admins who have a background in data protection, backup products, as well as virtualization and understanding of VMware. A typical infrastructure administrator is capable of administering the platform.

What was our ROI?

Zerto has very much saved us money by enabling us to do DR in the cloud, rather than in our physical data center. To do what we want to do and have that same type of hardware, to be able to stand up on it and have that hardware at the ready with support and maintenance, would be huge compared to what I'm doing.

By the way, we are doing what is considered a poor man's DR. I'm not saying that I'm poor, but that's the term I place on it because most people have a replica of their hardware in another environment. One needs to pay for those hardware costs, even though it's not doing anything other than sitting there, just in case. Using Zerto, I don't have to pay for that hardware in the cloud.

All I pay for is storage, and that's much less than what the hardware cost would be. To run that environment with everything on there, just sitting, would cost a factor of ten to one.

I would use this ratio with that because the storage that it replicates to is not the fastest. There's no VMs, there's no compute or memory associated with replicating this, so all I'm paying for is the storage.

So in one case, I'm paying only for storage, and in the other case, I have to pay for storage and for hardware, compute, and connectivity. If you add all that up into what storage would be, I think it would be that storage is inexpensive, but compute added up with maintenance and everything, and networking connectivity between there and the soft costs and man-hours to support that environment, just to have it ready, I would say ten to one is probably a fair assessment.

When it comes to DR, there is no real return on investment. The return comes in the form of risk mitigation. If the question is whether I think that I spent the least amount of money to provide a resilient environment then I would answer yes. Without question.

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

If you are an IT person and you think that DR is too expensive then the cloud option from Zerto is good because anyone can afford to use it, as far as getting one or two of their criticals protected. The real value of the product is that if you didn't have any DR strategy, because you thought you couldn't afford it, you can at least have some form of DR, including your most critical apps up and running to support the business.

A lot of IT people roll the dice and they take chances that that day will never come. This way, they can save money. My advice is to look at the competition out there, such as VMware Site Recovery, and like anything else, try to leverage the best price you can.

There are no costs in addition to the standard licensing fees for the product itself. However, for the environment that it resides in, there certainly are. With Azure, for example, there are several additional costs including connectivity, storage, and the VPN. These ancillary costs are not trivial and you definitely have to spend some time understanding what they are and try to control them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I looked at several solutions during the evaluation period. When Zerto came to the table, it was very good at doing backup. The other products could arguably instantiate and do the DR but they couldn't do everything that Zerto has been doing. Specifically, Zerto was handling that bubbling of the environment to be able to test it and ensure that there is no cross-contamination. That added feature, on top of the fact that it can do it so much faster than what Rubrik could, was the compelling reason why we looked there.

Along the way, I looked at Cohesity and Veeam and a few other vendors, but they didn't have an elegant solution or an elegant way of doing what I wanted to do, which is sending copies to an expensive cloud storage target, and then having the mechanism to instantiate them. The mechanism wasn't as elegant with some of those vendors.

What other advice do I have?

We initially started with the on-premises version, where we replicated our global DR from the US to Taiwan. Zerto recently came out with a cloud-based, enterprise variant that gives you the ability to use it on-premises or in the cloud. With this, we've migrated our licenses to a cloud-based strategy for disaster recovery.

We are in the middle of evaluating their long-term retention, or long-term backup solution. It's very new to us. In the same way that Veeam, and Rubrik, and others were trying to get into Zerto's business, Zerto's now trying to get into their business as far as the backup solution.

I think it's much easier to do backup than what Zerto does for DR, so I don't think it will be very difficult for them to do table stakes back up, which is file retention for multiple targets, and that kind of thing.

Right now, I would say they're probably at the 70% mark as far as what I consider to be a success, but each version they release gets closer and closer to being a certifiable, good backup solution.

We have not had to recover our data after a ransomware attack but if our whole environment was encrypted, we have several ways to recover it. Zerto is the last resort for us but if we ever have to do that, I know that we can recover our environment in hours instead of days.

If that day ever occurs, which would be a very bad day if we had to recover at that level, then Zerto will be very helpful. We've done recoveries in the past where the on-premises restore was not healthy, and we've been able to recover them very fast. It isn't the onesie twosies that are compelling in terms of recovery because most vendors can provide that. It's the sheer volume of being able to restore so many at once that's the compelling factor for Zerto.

My advice for anybody who is implementing Zerto is to get a good cloud architect. Spend the time to build out your design, including your IP scheme, to support the feature sets and capabilities of the product. That is where the work needs to be done, more so than the Zerto products themselves. Zerto is pretty simple to get up and running but it's all the work ahead in the deployment or delivery that needs to be done. A good architect or cloud person will help with this.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from using Zerto is that it requires good planning but at the end of it, you'll have a reasonable disaster recovery solution. If you don't currently have one then this is certainly something that you should consider.

I would rate Zerto a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
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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Learn what your peers think about Zerto. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
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David Riberdy
Enterprise Data Management Supervisor at Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Real User
Top 20
Instead of one mass disaster recovery exercise, we're easily able to perform up to 12 in the year

Pros and Cons

  • "In situations of failback or moving workloads, it saves us hours. If I were to have to move a four or five terabyte machine using something like VMware's virtual copy it has to install on the machine and copy the data over. Then it has to shut the machine down and do a final copy, which means there's a lot of downtime while it's doing the final copy."
  • "The interface is the only thing that we've ever really had an issue with. It's gone through some revisions. The UI, it's not clunky, but it's not as streamlined as it could be. Some of the workflow things are not as nice as they could be."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for disaster recovery and to migrate machines from one location to another.

How has it helped my organization?

The big thing for us was our disaster recovery. At that point, we were only able to do a disaster recovery test once a year. Now, we officially do a disaster recovery test once a quarter and we do a subsequent test once a month to verify that it's doing what it's doing and the IP address is changed. Instead of one mass disaster recovery exercise, we're easily able to perform up to 12 in the year.

It allows us to verify in a much more granular aspect whether our data is being migrated or not. Once a year, if we find some issues, we're at least 11, 12 months behind at that point. Every 30 days, if we do a test and we find an issue, we're able to correct that. The time between tests is shorter, which means that if there is a problem we're able to resolve it in a much shorter amount of time versus an entire year, and then waiting another year to see if everything is working again.

When we need to failback or move workloads Zerto decreases the time it takes and the number of people involved. We are able to put a machine into Zerto, let it do its magic in migrating the data from one side to the other. We've had instances where we've got machines that are four or five terabytes that we can move from one side to another after it's done synchronizing in 15 minutes or less. Sometimes it takes DNS longer to update than it does for us to move the machine.

Instead of me having a server person, a network person, and a storage person, I can put it into Zerto, let Zerto do its job, fail it over, and then just have the application owner verify that the server is up and running, and away we go. So on a weekend, I don't have to engage a team of people, it can just be myself and one other person to verify that the machine is up and running. It really cuts down on overhead for personnel.

In situations of failback or moving workloads, it saves us hours. If I were to have to move a four or five terabyte machine using something like VMware's virtual copy it has to install on the machine and copy the data over. Then it has to shut the machine down and do a final copy, which means there's a lot of downtime while it's doing the final copy. As far as downtime from an application standpoint, with Zerto, we're from hours down to minutes, which is great when you have applications that are supposed to be the five nines of a time kind of thing.

We have not had any ransomware issues. But we have had an instance where somebody installed something that messed something up. It was a new version of Java and we were able to roll back. Thankfully they realized it fairly quickly because we only keep a 12-hour window. We were able to roll back to almost a per minute instance prior to that installation and recover the server in minutes. Our backup was as of midnight, but they did it at 8:00 in the morning. So we didn't lose eight hours' worth of processing.

If we were going to use our backup solution, it would have taken minutes to restore the actual server, but then from an SQL perspective, we would have had to roll the transaction logs from backups. I couldn't even tell how long that would have taken because we had to do all of the transaction logs, which are taken every five minutes from midnight, all the way to 8:00 AM in five-minute increments. It would have taken considerably longer using traditional methods versus Zerto.

Although it hasn't reduced the number of staff involved in overall backup and disaster recovery, what it has allowed us to do is actually focus on other things. Since Zerto is doing what it's doing, we're able to not have to stare at it all day every day and make sure that it's working. We have the screen up to make sure there are no errors, but we're able to focus on learning how the APIs work, working on the other products that we own for backup and storage. That's mainly what my group does, we do disaster recovery and storage backups. We have six pieces of our enterprise and before it was just the main piece that we were working on. Now, we're able to actually work with the other five or six entities and start doing their backups and disaster recovery because we have a lot more time.

What is most valuable?

The failover capabilities are definitely the high spot for us. Previously, when we did disaster recovery it would take us easily a day or two to restore all of our servers. We can do the same thing with Zerto in about an hour and a half.

We're about six or seven seconds behind our production site and it does a really good job of keeping up, making sure that we're up to date. That's one of the other things that we think is just phenomenal about the product, we're able to get in there and put a server in and within usually a few minutes we're protected. Six or seven seconds behind is a pretty good RPO.

Currently, we are using another product for longterm retention, so I don't think we really have any plans on switching over at this point.

Zerto is very easy to use. We did a proof of concept and it took longer to build the Windows servers that had to be installed than it did to actually install it and roll off the product. Our proof of concept became production in minutes.

What needs improvement?

The interface is the only thing that we've ever really had an issue with. It's gone through some revisions. The UI, it's not clunky, but it's not as streamlined as it could be. Some of the workflow things are not as nice as they could be.

I like the fact that Zerto does what it does and it does it very well. I have had Zerto since version four, so the longterm retention and things like that were never a part of it at that point. I just like the fact that I can install it, I can protect my virtual machines, and I'm comfortable and confident that it's doing things correctly because of the amount of testing that we've done with it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Zerto for a little over three years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It's very stable. Once a month we verify that the internal mechanisms of Zerto are working. When I do a test failover we check if VMware tools come up, if the IP addresses change, and the things that Zerto is configured to do automatically. Usually, if there's an issue, it's either I did something wrong when I configured it, or I put in the wrong IP address or the VM itself has an issue, the tools aren't loading correctly or at all, or it was trying to do an upgrade and failed. We've actually been able to identify other issues inside the environment that we would not have realized were an issue by doing these tests.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Our next step is not so much increasing the capacity but protecting things to the cloud. We'd like to be able to take those same 350 machines or so do we have, and definitely, if not the important 50 that we have, but all of them, have them not only go to our disaster recovery site but also split to AWS. It's where we have both of the sites, one in one location and one in a vastly different location and if for some reason, one were to go offline, we would have those objects in AWS to be able to spin up and do what we need to do.

We ramped up from that 50 to 350 within a year and Zerto just took it and kept on running. We are still about the same RPO as we were before, we're protecting 60 plus terabytes of data at this point with those 350. It did what it had to do to create new virtual machines, depending on how many disks there are. I think that I was able to scale with our needs really easily. 73 terabytes are what we're protecting right now across 357 VMs, and we have a seven-second RPO. It went from a small number to a very large number. The issues that we've had around Zerto protection has either been that networking wasn't sufficient, or the storage itself had to be increased.

There are three of us who work with Zerto, that's it. We do contact other teams, often our networking team to get an IP address for something. But when it comes to doing the testing, when it comes to doing the implementation, and when it comes to doing verification processes, it's all my team of three people.

I am the data management supervisor and then I have a lead storage administrator and a senior storage administrator.

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

Prior to Zerto becoming our disaster recovery product, we were using Dell EMC's Avamar for backup recovery and for disaster recovery, which we quickly realized was not going to work out very well. We used it for about four or five years. When your disaster recovery test is five days and you take one and a half to two days to do restores only, that doesn't leave a lot of time for testing. Now, we're able to do the restore in an hour and a half. Then we actually can start testing the exact same day that we did the restores. In most instances, we're able to actually finish everything within 24 hours.

When we first purchased it, the backup portion did not exist. So having backup and DR in one platform really wasn't that important to us. We use Rubrik for backups and longterm retention at this point. We really don't have any intent on using Zerto for longterm retention, as we're extremely happy with Rubrik. But time will tell if we decide to switch over to the LTR portion of the product.

Compared to Avamar, Zerto is extremely easy to use. I can bring Zerto up and start recovering, failing over, or testing machines before I can even log into Avamar. Avamar was very clunky from its interface. It's very easy for Zerto to go in and recover a machine to a certain point in time. Where moving around in Avamar, since it was Java based, would take quite a long time to get from screen to screen. And the workflow was not user friendly at all.

We have different use cases for Zerto and Rubrik but I think that the interface and functionality, as far as what I get out of that particular product, what its purpose is, they're both about on par. Honestly, we've told both companies before, we would love for one to buy the other so that we can get the best of the disaster recovery with Zerto and the best of backup and recovery, longterm retention type things with Rubrik. Because they definitely are probably the two best products for their market segment.

Replacing Avamar has saved us on the cost needed to manage them. As far as management goes, we still use the same three people. But as far as renewal maintenance costs, definitely. Dell EMC is very proud of their products and their renewal maintenance costs were rather large compared to what we do with Zerto.

Initially, we saved about $1,000,000 three years ago by switching to Zerto. Zerto and Rubrik replaced Avamar. But buying both products together, versus what the renewal/upgrade costs would have cost us for Avamar, with all the hardware, was a savings of $1,000,000.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is very straightforward. I built a couple of virtual machines to run the manager on, deployed some VRAs, and then attached it to VMware and checked what I wanted to protect. We probably had it up and running in about an hour total. Then we tested protecting some machines, and we had some test boxes that we tested back and forth. It was a very easy setup. People are definitely sold about how easy it is to install and configure.

Initially, our deployment strategy was to protect a small subset of very important machines for an enterprise. And then once we saw how easy it was to implement, how easy it was to put things in there, and how easy it was to protect them, it went from a handful of machines to 350 or so. The initial intent was to protect a very small number. That went from that to a very large number very quickly. Zerto was able to handle it no problem. We actually had to end up buying more storage on the target side because we had not planned on doing that many machines from the initial implementation.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with our account team. We were able to get the proof of concept software, a link to download it. They gave us a key, they gave us a little Excel sheet stating how many machines and IP addresses we needed. Then they basically sat on the phone with us for the hour with WebEx. And we set it up just that moment. That's really the only implementation help that we've ever gotten from them. Everything else has just been pretty much us on our own.

Their support has been very, very good. We've had some technical issues that we've been able to work through with them. Nothing major, but if I have a question or if we run into an issue, we're able to either open up a support ticket and they respond fairly quickly, or we are able to do some searching in their knowledge base. We've had an instance where we did the upgrade to a new version and it caused some problems. But within, I'd say a few hours, we were able to correct it because they had already experienced that. And they had that logged in their internal database of issues. So, they were able to log in, and give us the fix that we needed and get us back on track.

What was our ROI?

It definitely is a very robust product. The feature set from 4.0, 4.5 to now has increased greatly. We do like the fact, even though we're not using it, that as long as I pay my maintenance when the new features come out like longterm retention, analytics, the monitoring, the reporting, the things that were not there when we first purchased it that are there now, is all part of maintenance. It's not a bolt-on price. They don't charge extra. It was one of the things with Dell EMC that was always a pain was. They had additional costs. With Zerto it's like, "You paid your maintenance, here's a new feature, enjoy!"

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

They have licensing breaks as far as 50 users, or 50 VMs, 100 VMs, 250 VMs. We ended up with a bunch of 50 at first, and all of our maintenance renewal dates were all different. It ended up costing us more because we didn't just make the investment up front to say that we wanted 250. We had to end up going back and resetting all of our maintenance dates to the same date. It was just a nightmare for our maintenance renewal person. If you did a proof of concept and you like it, definitely make the license investment upfront. That way, you're not trying to piecemeal it afterwards.

Licensing is all-inclusive, there are no hidden fees.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at RecoverPoint for VMs. A long time ago, one of the companies inside this enterprise had used RecoverPoint and it worked really well when it was the physical RecoverPoint. But as things became more virtual, it no longer was as good as it had been, so they had discontinued it. RecoverPoint for VMs was definitely not as easy to set up. It was not as easy to use. It took a lot more resources. This is three-year-old information, but I feel like we would have had to have had more people on our team than we do now with just the three of us. We didn't feel like it was as stable. It certainly wasn't as easy to use, test, or get to work as Zerto was.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to do the proof of concept. They're very willing to help you with the installation. Do a proof of concept. If you're not amazed by it, I would be surprised. Everybody that we've ever talked to about this and have done a test of it says, "I can't believe it's just that easy."

I would rate Zerto a ten out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Don Cargill
Senior Server Storage Engineer at MAPFRE Insurance
Real User
Top 20
Reduced the number of people onsite during a disaster recovery drill

Pros and Cons

  • "Most of the time, this is at least a two person job. We used to have three people doing it. Previously, when we had a disaster recovery drill, the way it worked was 12 of us would show up in the office on a Friday night and work overnight from 12:00 AM on Friday night to 8:00 AM in the morning on Saturday. Then, three of us would be working for four hours out of those eight or nine hours just getting applications up and running in Arizona. Now, for the disaster recovery drill, I just stay onsite to help and assist anybody else as they need during that time frame and my work is done in about a 30-minute time frame. This is compared to the four or five hours it used to take for the three of us to do it."
  • "The alerting doesn't quite give you the information about what exactly is going on when an issue comes up. We do get alerts inside of our vCenter, but it doesn't quite give you accurate information inside the plugin to be able to tell us what's going on without having to go into the actual Zerto application and figuring out what's causing the issue."

What is our primary use case?

We do a semiannual disaster recovery test, usually one in January and another in September, where we fail our entire company over to our Arizona DR facility. We run the business out of the Arizona location for the day. In order to be able to do that, the Zerto application allows us to migrate 58 machines over to that location and allows us to run our business from that location for the course of the day.

How has it helped my organization?

We are able to have a successful disaster recovery solution through using Zerto for our Disaster Recovery drills. We are able to fail over anytime, day or night, to run our applications out of our Arizona facility. Within a 15 or 20 minute time frame, we can have those application servers up and running in Arizona. It is just a huge help to have a successful, reliable disaster recovery solution that we know at any point in time, within 15 or 20 minutes, can be running out of a different location.

Most of the time, this is at least a two person job. Previously, when we had a disaster recovery drill it would take two of us working for three or four hours just getting applications up and running in Arizona. Now, for the disaster recovery drill, I'm able to finish my work in about 30 mins and be available onsite to help and assist anybody else as needed during the disaster recovery drill. Its ease of use and the ability to have a reliable solution for disaster recovery has become invaluable to us.

What is most valuable?

There is built-in active logging if needed for a longer retention period. If we fail a machine over and are just doing tests for it, we can fail it right back at the end of the failover without much issue. We couldn't do that with SRM. The ability to keep track within the activity log of what is going on with the VM, then fail it back prior to the one-hour time frame that we have set up without having to worry about it losing data during our tests or production failover drills.

The product is very easy to use. On a scale of one to 10, I'd say it's a nine as far as ease of use goes. In order to do an update in our old product (SRM), we basically had to take down almost our entire vCenter to be able to do the updates. Whereas, I can do updates to our Zerto product within 30 minutes to both our ZVMs in Massachusetts and Arizona. We haven't had problems troubleshooting after doing upgrades. Within five minutes, we can configure a whole new cluster solution and work on getting it synced out to Arizona.

It transfers up-to-the-minute files. Therefore, if something was to happen and the business was to go down Massachusetts due to a server failure, we could simply fire up those VMs in Arizona within approximately five minutes. The data protection level is top-notch. We haven't lost any machines, data, or VMs during the course of utilizing this product.

What needs improvement?

The alerting doesn't quite give you the information about what exactly is going on when an issue comes up. We do get alerts inside of our vCenter, but it doesn't give you accurate information on the error message to be able to tell us what's going on without having to go actually login into Zerto to determine what's causing the issue.

Another issue with the alerting is that it will pause a job. E.g., if we have something running from Massachusetts to Arizona, but a VM has been removed, updated or moved to a new location in vCenter. It literally pauses the VPG the VM resides in but will never give us a notification that it's been paused. Therefore, if we had an issue during the course of the day such as a power event and we needed to gain access to those VMs in some sort of catastrophe, we wouldn't be able to get access to them because that job was paused and were never notified about it being paused for whatever reason. It would therefore be a big problem if the VM was needed to be recovered and we didn't have those resources available.

It would be great to get more precise alerting to be able to allow us to troubleshoot a bit better. Or have the application at least give us a heads up, "A VPG job has been paused." Right now, it's sort of a manual process that we have to monitor ourselves, which is not a great way to do things if you have a superior disaster recovery solution.

For how long have I used the solution?

Almost two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is rock-solid. Nothing has gone down since we installed it; there has been no downtime.

Typically, once a quarter, we have an update. Last year we were at version 7.5, then we recently went updates to 8.0. On top of that, they release security patches and other things to improve bugs they find in the program. Right now, there is a U4 version that's out, which we will be updating to this quarter.

In the U4 version, there are security enhancements because a lot of zero-day issues that are being found in a lot of the applications. Zerto is making more security modifications and enhancements to the encryption between one location and another, so somebody can't hack your data and access it while it's in transition.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very easy. We are going through a POC right now because we want to branch out to the cloud. Just getting that set up and going through the process was about 60 minutes.

It's very scalable and extendable. We can do one to many solutions, as far as where our disaster recovery is going. This is what we wanted. We would never have been able to do that with our SRM product.

There are two engineers trained to use the product. I'm the primary contact for the application and do most of the work on the product. One of the storage guys handles a lot of the storage set up on the back-end with me. We have at least two people trained on each application that we have in-house. Both of us are in charge of making sure the application is up-to-date and doing what it's supposed to be doing. 

How are customer service and technical support?

Zerto's technical support is very good. They are very reliable and always very pleasant to deal with. We've never an issue working with them. They usually come back with the precise solution to whatever we are troubleshooting.

Our issues are usually user self-inflicted. E.g., we remove a host out of the cluster to upgrade it or do something else with it and don't follow the correct procedure that's needed in order to be able to shut down the Zerto appliance correctly. If somebody doesn't follow that procedure, because they either don't know how, weren't aware of it, or just skip that step, then it causes problems inside of Zerto. This will pause jobs and the VPG will no longer be accessible on that host. Sometimes it's easy to get it back up and running again. Usually, when you put a new piece of hardware in the cluster that has a different set of parameters with its hardware, then the appliance will be missing because it was taken out with the old hardware. Usually, you need to get their technical support involved in order to be able to troubleshoot the issue with them to be able to get the VPG back online again on the new hardware. As I said its self-inflicted most of the time because steps are missed with our processes.

The documentation that we got from them was in depth and work well when needed, if you follow them correctly you will have success. If you don't follow the steps, that's when problems develop. Therefore, it's not a fault in their documentation, it's a fault of the user who's not following the proper steps for success. It doesn't happen often but I think we have contacted technical support only three times in the two years that we've had the product.

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

For eight years prior to using Zerto we used to use a product called SRM, which is part of VMware. We finally switched over to Zerto after having them come in and do a presentation for us. This was after trying for about a year to do that and convince our vice president to allow us to migrate over to a different platform.

The reason why we used SRM was because SRM was built into our VMware vCenter licensing. We never had a successful DR test during the previous couple of years with SRM. By switching over to the Zerto product a year and a half ago, we were able to run a successful disaster recovery test within three months of switching over. We had our first successful disaster recovery tests in two and a half years because Zerto made our life so much easier and helped getting servers over to a new location almost seamlessly. 

In order to be able to have a successful disaster recovery, we need to be able to successfully migrate 58 servers from our Massachusetts location to Arizona. On previous attempts, we got about half the stuff over there, then we'd fail. In other scenarios we would get everything over there but some of the machines wouldn't come up because of the way they were configured. One time, the business was down for about half the morning because it took us that long to get the stuff back up and running using SRM. This was a real pain point for us, getting this product in place and working successfully. It took Zerto to be able to finally get us to do that. It's been a lifesaver. All we had with SRM was nothing but headaches.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. We had everything running in half an hour. It got deployed with two virtual machines (ZVMs): One got deployed in Massachusetts and another in our Arizona location. From there, we deploy appliances to each one of the hosts that's inside of the clusters that we are managing for our disaster recovery solution.

Within 30 minutes, we had it deployed to our entire production cluster and the hosts in here. After that, we just started creating jobs, which took quite awhile to do because we have a lot of large servers. However, that's not the worry of the Zerto application, but the size of the VMs we have in production. 

For our implementation strategy, we just mimicked what we had in place for our SRM environment. Our 58 machines are spread across different clusters: some in our DMZ, some in our prod and some in our WebSphere clusters. After that, we ran two tests to ensure that we were able to fail over to our Arizona location then fail back without any changes or modifications to the VMs. Once we did that, we started rolling out to each of the clusters, one Virtual Protection Group (VPG) at a time. I think we now have 23 VPGs total.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with an outside vendor (Daymark) who does a lot of our work through outside vendors. They work with Zerto directly. When we set it up originally, we had a Zerto technician on the call as well as a Daymark technician on-site working with us.

Our experience with Daymark has been very good. We love working with them and try to use them for our integration and infrastructure work. They are a very good company that are easy to deal with. We try to use them as much as we can. Thanks to Rick and Matt for a great working relationship.

What was our ROI?

We have seen huge ROI.

It used to be a three-person job, and now it only takes one person to manage and run the process. The fall back is the same thing. We've never had any issues with stuff coming back out of Arizona to our Massachusetts location. Within 15 to 20 minutes, we can have our servers successfully migrated back, then up and running just as they were originally without having too many conflicts or configuration issues. 

The solution has helped us reduce downtime in any situation that we have come across, thus far, for disaster recovery at a 4:1 ratio.

We are an insurance company therefore, if we're down for an hour, it's thousands of dollars being lost. E.g., people can't pay their insurance bills, open new policies or get the support they need for an accident.

These things have been invaluable to us:

  • Not having to have so many bodies onsite during a disaster recovery drill.
  • Not having to worry about multiple people dealing with the application.
  • The product's reliability of always being up and running and not having any issues with it.

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

It's very equitable, otherwise we wouldn't do it. It's something that we utilize for the licenses per host used. Therefore, it's very cost-efficient as far as the licensing goes. For the amount of stuff that we have configured and what we're utilizing it for, the licensing is not very expensive at all.

There is a one-time cost for maintenance and support. We have a three-year contract that we will have to renew when those three years come up. There is also licensing on top of that for whatever product you are using it depending on the host configurations.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Right now, we use Veritas. We will be evaluating Veeam and Rubrik as a new solution for our backups in the next quarter or so, on top of the fact that we may decide to use Zerto. The three of them are in the mix right now for when we decide to switch over vendors for a better backup solution. 

Zerto gives you the ability to utilize it as a backup solution, but it's not a true backup solution because it can't do file level backups. If you want a particular file off of a server, it can't do that for you. What it can do is give you the whole server, then you need to go back and pull that file off it. Mainly for that reason, we haven't chosen to use Zerto and may never use Zerto as our backup solution. The other solutions allow us to get a file level backup.

What other advice do I have?

Don't hesitate. Go out and do it now. Don't wait two years like we did. Push harder in order to be able to get the solution in place, especially since we know it will work better for you. Don't just take, "No," for an answer from senior management.

The application is phenomenal. They continually add new things, more plugins, and modifications to the way things work. It just gets better as they go.

We don't plan to use the solution for long-term retention at this time, but we are looking at going into a hybrid cloud solution in the near future which we may be using long-term retention for to make a duplicate copy of everything we have in our Massachusetts data center into a cloud solution. Whether it be an Azure or Amazon location on the cloud.

While I can't really speak to whether it would allow us to do it, the application is set up to create a duplicate of the actual servers in Arizona. That's how it works so quickly. If we ever had a problem, I could always revert back from the duplicates that we have out in Arizona using the application, if necessary. Luckily, we haven't had a need for that, and hopefully never do.

I would rate this solution as a nine (out of 10).

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
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.
Chris Slaby
Network Administrator at a educational organization with 201-500 employees
Real User
Top 20
Restores files much quicker and offers continuous data protection

Pros and Cons

  • "In terms of the most valuable features, having the failover tests where you can see where your actual RTO and RPO would be is really nice, especially for the management level. I really liked the ease of when I need to do a file or folder restore off the cuff. Usually, it takes me less than five minutes to do it, including the mounting of the actual image. That was one thing with Unitrends, it was a similar process but if that backup had aged off of the system, then you had to go to the archive and you find the right disks, load them in, and then actually mount the image."
  • "In terms of improvement, it would be helpful if the implementation team had a better best practices guide and made sure things like the journaling are very clearly understood."

What is our primary use case?

Right now, everything is on-prem including LTR. We are looking at adding the Azure features but we're not quite there yet.

We purchased Zerto to replace our Legacy backup system that still had disks, Archiver Appliance, and everything like that. We had wanted to do something that was diskless but still gave us multiple copies. So we were utilizing both the instantaneous backup and recovery, as well as the LTR, Long Term Retention, function. We do our short-term backup with normal journaling and then our longer-term retention with the LTR appliance, which is going to dedicated hardware in one of our data centers.

We use Zerto for both backup and disaster recovery. It was fairly important that Zerto offers both of these features because Unitrends did provide the traditional backup piece. They also had another product called ReliableDR, which they later rolled into a different product. Unitrends actually bought the company. That piece provided the same functionality as what Zerto is doing now, but with Unitrends that was separate licensing and a different management interface. It wasn't nice to have to bounce between the two systems. The ability to do it all from a single pane of glass that is web-based is nice.

It's definitely not going to save us money. It'll be a peace of mind thing, that we have another copy of our data somewhere. Our DR site is approximately 22 miles away. The likelihood of a tornado or something devastating two communities where our facilities are based is pretty slim. It's peace of mind and it does not require additional storage space on-prem. We know that the charges for data at rest are not free in Azure. We get good pricing discounts being in education but it definitely won't save money.

How has it helped my organization?

Zerto was fairly comparable to what Unitrends was offering with multiple products. We didn't gain a ton of extra features. If anything, in the very near future, it will give us the ability for Cloud backup and retention to have some of that sitting out in the Cloud as an offsite backup. We have a primary site, a backup site, and a recovery site. We have multiple copies already, but we want to have one that's not on any of our physical facilities so we will be setting that up shortly. We just need to get our subscriptions and everything coordinated and up to par. That would be the main improvement that it's going to provide us. But we're not quite there yet.

Zerto has reduced downtime. Speaking specifically to the file restores, it's definitely restored things much quicker. Instead of waiting for half-hour to get a file restore done, it's a matter of five minutes or less to do it where they can keep rolling much quicker versus with Unitrends. Other than that, I can't say there are any huge differences.

The difference in downtime would cost my organization very little. We're a small technical college, so we're not loopy on making or losing thousands or millions of dollars if something takes five minutes versus an hour and a half. Higher ed is a different breed of its own. 

What is most valuable?

In terms of the most valuable features, having the failover tests where you can see where your actual RTO and RPO would be is really nice, especially for the management level. I really liked the ease of when I need to do a file or folder restore off the cuff. Usually, it takes me less than five minutes to do it, including the mounting of the actual image. That was one thing with Unitrends, it was a similar process but if that backup had aged off of the system, then you had to go to the archive and you find the right disks, load them in, and then actually mount the image. Our main data stores are close to two terabytes. It would take 15 to 20 minutes just to mount the image. Whereas with Zerto, I don't think it's taken longer than a minute or a minute and a half to mount any image that we've needed to go back to a restore point on.

With Unitrends, some could have taken a half-hour. I'm the only network administrator here, so it usually was a multitasking event where we would wait for it to load. I would take care of a few other things and then come back to it.

Switching to Zerto decreased the time it took but did not decrease the number of people involved. It still requires myself and our network engineer to do any failover, back and forth, because of our networking configuration and everything. I know that Zerto allows us to RE-IP machines as we failover. However, because of the way our public DNS works and some of our firewall rules, we have purposely chosen not to do that in an automated fashion. That would still be a manual operation. It would still involve a couple of people from IT.

Zerto does a pretty decent job at providing continuous data protection. The most important thing that I didn't clearly understand upfront, was the concept of journaling and how that differs from traditional backup. For example, if you set journal retention for seven days or whatever, in your traditional backup, it kept that for seven days, regardless of what was happening. You had it versus the journaling, where coupled with some of the size limits and stuff of the journal size, if you don't configure it correctly, you could actually have less data backed up than what you think you do. I also found out that if you have an event such as ransomware, that all of a sudden throws a lot of IOPS at it, and a lot of change rate, that can age out a journal very quickly and then leave you with the inability to restore if that's not set up properly.

We have requirements to keep student data and information for seven years. We need long-term retention for those purposes. We don't typically need to go back further than 30 days for file restores and everything. There has been the occasion where six months later, we need to restore a file because we had somebody leaving the organization or something like that and that folder or whatever wasn't copied over at the time they left.

Zerto has not saved us time in a data recovery situation due to ransomware because we did not have it correctly configured. When we had an event like that, we weren't able to successfully restore from a backup. That has been corrected now. Now that it is configured correctly, I anticipate that it will save us weeks of time. It took almost two weeks to get to a somewhat normal state after our event. We're still recovering somewhat from rebuilding some servers and stuff like that. To get our primary data and programs back up and running to a mostly normal function, took around two weeks.

We also expect that it will reduce the number of staff involved in that type of data recovery situation. We ended up having to hire one of our trusted partners to come in and help us rebuild and remediate. There was at least a dozen staff including our own IT staff, which was another 10 people on top of that. Provided that we do now have this set correctly, it would really drop it down to maybe two or three people.

What needs improvement?

In terms of improvement, it would be helpful if the implementation team had a better best practices guide and made sure things like the journaling are very clearly understood. 

Speaking directly to our incident, we did have professional services guide us with the installation, setup, and configuration. At that time, there was no suggestion to have these appliances not joined to the domain or in a separate VLAN from our normal servers and everything. They are in a completely isolated network. The big thing was being domain-joined. They didn't necessarily give that guidance. In our particular situation, with our incident, had those not been domain-joined, we would have been in a much better place than what we ended up being.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Zerto for about two years

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is quite stable. I haven't had system issues with it. The VRAs run, they do their thing. The VPGs run, so as long as we're not experiencing network interruptions between our two campuses, the tasks run as they should. In the event we do have an interruption, they seem to recover fairly quickly catching up on the journaling and stuff like that. It's fairly stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is pretty good. We have 50 seats, so we will just be starting to bump up against that very shortly. My impression is that all we need to do is purchase more licenses as needed, and we're good to expand as long as our infrastructure internal can absorb it.

I just recently learned from Zerto Con that they are coming out or have just come out with a Zerto for SaaS applications, which gives the ability to back up Office 365 tenants or Salesforce tenants. I am very interested in learning about that. We have been researching and budgeting for standalone products for Office 365 and Salesforce backups. From my understanding, those products would be backed up from the cloud to the cloud so that it wouldn't have impacts on our internal, long-term appliance, or any of our storage internal infrastructure. That's very appealing. 

It will depend on costs. If it's something that I can't absorb with the funding I have already secured for Office 365, then it would have to be added to our next year's budget because we run from July 1st to June 30th. Our capital timeline budgeting has surpassed us already.

How are customer service and technical support?

For the most part, the technical support is pretty decent. I've only had to open one or two tickets and the response time has been pretty good. Our questions were answered.

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

We previously used Unitrends. We switched solutions because we were at the end of our lifecycle with the appliances we had. At that time, Unitrends was not quite as mature with the diskless and cloud-type technologies as Zerto was. We were pursuing diskless where we had to rotate out hard drives for archiving. We wanted to get rid of that. That brought us to Zerto and it was recommended by one of our vendors to take a look at it.

Unitrends had replaced Commvault. 

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was fairly straightforward, deploying the VRAs to the VMware infrastructure and stuff like that was point, click, and let it run it. It was fairly quick. The VRAs took a couple of minutes each, so that wasn't bad at all. Setting up the VPGs is quite simple. There is a little bit of confusion where you can set your default for the journaling and stuff like that and then modify individual VMs after the fact. If you want different journal sizes for different VMs in the same VPG, there are a couple of different spots you can tweak. The setup and requirements of the LTR were a little bit confusing.

We purchased six or eight hours of implementation time but that was over multiple calls. We stood up some of the infrastructures, got some VPGs together, and then they left it to me to set up some other VPGs. Then we did a touch base to see what questions I had and things like that. We had six or eight hours purchased but it was spread over multiple engagements.

For the most part, only I worked on the deployment. Our network engineer was involved briefly just to verify connectivity via the VLANs and firewalls. Once we had established a connection, he was pretty much out of it.

I'm the only one who uses it strictly for our district backups. We're a small college. Our IT programs, HR, or business services, don't have their own separate entities. It's all covered under the primary IT department.

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

I don't know that we've saved a ton by replacing our legacy solution with Zerto. I think there's a little less overhead with it. Setting up the VPGs, the protection groups, and everything is a little bit easier and the file restores go much quicker. Fortunately, we haven't had to perform full system restores, but I did not need to do that with Unitrends either. It's usually a folder or a file here and there. We're not really intense on restoring. It has saved a little on management, but not a ton. 

Pricing wasn't horrible. I can't say that it was super competitive. We definitely could have gone with a cheaper price solution but the ease of use and management was really what won me over. Being the only network administrator, I don't have a ton of time to read through 500-page user manuals to get these things set up on a daily basis. I needed something that was very easy to implement and use on a daily basis. In the event I'm out of the office, it would be nice to have simple documentation so that if somebody needs a file restore while I'm gone, it can be handed off to somebody who is not a network admin as their primary job.

I have not run into any additional costs. Obviously, if you're going to utilize Azure for long-term retention it is an additional cost, but that's coming from Microsoft, not Zerto. To my knowledge, there is no additional licensing needed for that, that's all included in the product.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Commvault was another solution we looked at even though it was against my better judgment. We looked at Veeam and Rubrik as well.

In terms of ease of use, Veeam was pretty similar but at the time we still had some physical servers that we no longer have now. We are all virtual now. Veeam couldn't accommodate that, as I understood. I liked the features of Zerto and the ability to get the RTO and RPO reports and see where we're at. The ease of file restores was really nice.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be to make sure that you clearly understand what you require. You must have retention and recoverability. Make sure that your journal configurations correspond to accommodate that in an event like ransomware or something like that, that a high change rate can happen. Also, utilize long-term retention for instances like that. 

I appreciate the continuing education that they provide. There is Zerto Con and they have different customer support webinars. They do the new product release webinars and stuff like that, where they're very open on what features they're adding, what they've released, and what improvements they're doing. Whereas it seems like most companies, say, "Okay, we have an update available. Here are the release notes." And, it's up to you to go through that.

I like that Zerto takes the time to sometimes do live demos. We're migrating from 8.0 to 8.5. We're going to do it in a live environment and show approximately how long it takes and all the steps to go through it. Make sure you check this box if you're upgrading from this. I find that very helpful. I'm a visual learner, versus learning from reading. Seeing some of those step-by-step upgrades, releases, and feature demonstrations is very helpful.

I would rate Zerto an eight out of ten. 

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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Brad Wallick
Vice President of Information Technology at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
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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TF
Software Engineering Specialist at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 20
Decreases the time it takes and the number of people involved to fail back or move workloads

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable features of this solution is the ease of use. In the event of a disaster, you don't need a technical person to actually run the software. You can bring anybody in, with the right instructions and credentials, and they can run the solution."
  • "The solution's continuous protection is the best on the market. The ability to do the split-write, without any interruption to the production server, and the ability to roll back to any point in time you desire, are two really key features."
  • "Another area for improvement I'd like to see is the tuning of the VRAs built into the GUI. It's a little cryptic. You really have to be a very technical engineer to get that deep into it. I'd like to see a little better interface that allows you to do that tuning yourself, rather than trying to get their engineer and your engineer together to do it."

What is our primary use case?

We use it for disaster recovery. We use it for some testing. And we use it for hot backups on databases.

How has it helped my organization?

This past summer we had multiple hurricanes down south. We host for our clients, and what we did was proactively move them from their location down south up to our Boise data center in Idaho. We were able to do that with Zerto.

When you need to fail back or move workloads, Zerto decreases both the time it takes and the number of people involved. I was actually part of a project to move a data center, and we used Zerto to move it. We moved 20,000 virtual machines and the downtime was just a reboot of each machine. Before, it probably would have taken at least six people in multiple teams to do it, whereas in this move it was just two engineers from the same team who did it.

In addition, we recently had a corrupt database that we recovered using Zerto. If we didn't have Zerto, we would have had to do a restore and we would have had a loss of data of up to 24 hours, because the backups were done every 24 hours. In this case, we were able to roll the database back to a point in time that the DBAs deemed had good data. There was very little data loss as a result. Using Zerto in that situation saved us at least eight hours and from having to use multiple teams.

In that situation, for the recovery we would have done a restore from backup. The problem is we would have had X amount of hours of data loss. I don't know how long it would have taken the DBAs or our developers or app owners to reproduce the information that would have been lost. That could have ended up taking days. I've seen it take days in the past to recreate data that was lost as part of the recovery process.

Another point is that the solution has reduced the staff involved in overall backup and DR management. The big thing is that it reduces the teams involved. So rather than having the SAN team involved, the backup team involved, and the virtualization engineers, it ends up being just the virtualization engineers who do all the work. It has reduced the number of people involved from six to eight people down to a single engineer.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features of this solution is the ease of use. In the event of a disaster, you don't need a technical person to actually run the software. You can bring anybody in, with the right instructions and credentials, and they can run the solution.

Having been in disaster situations myself, one of the things that a lot of companies miss is the fact that, during a test, it's all hands on deck, but during a disaster not all those hands are there. I don't know what the statistics are, but it's quite infrequent that you have the ability to get the technical people necessary to do technical stuff. I was also part of the post-9/11 disaster recovery review, and one of the key conversations was about situations where an organization had the solution in place but they didn't have the people. Their solutions were quite complex, whereas with Zerto you can do it with a mouse. You can do it with non-technical staff, as long as you have your documentation in proper order.

I've been doing disaster recovery for 20 years and, in my opinion, the solution's continuous protection is the best on the market. The ability to do the split-write, without any interruption to the production server, and the ability to roll back to any point in time you desire, are two really key features. The back-end technology, the split-write and the appliances, they've got that down very well.

What needs improvement?

There's room for improvement with the GUI. The interface ends up coming down to a personal preference thing and where you like to see things. It's like getting into a new car. You have to relearn where the gauges are.

I'd also like to see them go to an appliance-based solution, rather than our standing up a VM. While the GUI ends up depending on personal preference, the actual platform that the GUI is created on needs to go to an appliance base.

Another area for improvement I'd like to see is the tuning of the VRAs built into the GUI. It's a little cryptic. You really have to be a very technical engineer to get that deep into it. I'd like to see a little better interface that allows you to do that tuning yourself, rather than trying to get their engineer and your engineer together to do it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using Zerto for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We had a rough start, but in defense of that, we were doing a lot of going long-distance with what we had.

The thing that I liked most about the problems that we had was that Zerto wasn't afraid to admit it. They also weren't afraid to put us in touch with the right staff on their side. It wasn't a big deal for me to talk to their developer. Normally, when you're at that level, the developers are shielded from customers, whereas with Zerto it was a more personal type of service that I got. We had a problem and they put me in touch with the developer who developed that piece of the solution and we brought it to resolution.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's very scalable. We grew from just a few hundred to a few thousand pretty quickly, and there were very few hiccups during that process.

How are customer service and technical support?

Out of the gate, when you call their number, they could do better. 

The thing is that I've developed such a good relationship with all of them, at all levels at Zerto, that I know who to call. If you're off the street and you call in, you're going to get that level-one support who's going to move you through it. When I call in, they put me right through to the level-two support and I move from there. It's like any support, if you know the right people, you can skip the helpdesk level and go right into the engineering.

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

The disaster recovery solution for the company I'm currently with was the typical restore from backups. They were using SAN replication as part of it. 

Personally, I've used many solutions over the years, starting with spinning tape, boot-from-disk, and then as we virtualized the data center, we started doing SAN-based replication. I've deployed and supported VMware Site Recovery Manager under different replication solutions, and then moved into Zerto. Prior to Zerto I used several different vendors' products.

Having been in disasters, living in Florida and experiencing them, I understand what it takes to recover a data center. I worked for my city in Florida and volunteered in the emergency operation center. Not only did I sit in technical meetings on how to recover computers, but I also sat in meetings on how to recover the city. So I have a different perspective when it comes to disaster recovery. I have a full view of how and what it takes to recover a city, as well as how and what it takes to recover a data center. Using that background, I pull them together.

As a result, I first look for a solution that works. That's key. If it doesn't work, it's out the door. The second factor is its ease of use. It has to be very easy to use, just a few clicks of the mouse and you're able to do a recovery. Zerto meets my requirements.

How was the initial setup?

Not only was the initial setup simple, but upgrades actually work and backward compatibility during the upgrades work. I've been doing IT for 25 years and it's one of the few solutions that I have come across where backups work, not only doing the actual backup, but they're compatible with what you have in place. Upgrades are very impressive and very seamless.

I started with working with Zerto during the 4.5 version. Right after we deployed that we went to 5.0. The length of time really varies depending upon your engineering platform process. I did the PoC and all the documentation, and then I did the deployment into production. I spent a few days on the PoC because I needed to know what its performance impact was going to be on the host, on the VMs. Then I had to see what the replication impact was going to be as well. 

And documentation took me a couple of weeks. Because I've been in disasters, when I do documentation I do it so that I can hand it to anybody, literally, including—and I've done it—to the janitor. I've handed the documentation to the janitor and I've had them sit down and do a recovery. I'm picky on documentation. 

The actual sit-down at the keyboard to do the deployment, after everything was in place, including getting a service account, getting the VM deployed, etc., was quick. In one day we had it up and running.

What about the implementation team?

I tend to do it myself because I'm old-school. I want to know how it works right from the ground up so that if I have to do any trouble shooting, I know where not to go to look at things. If you understand how something works, you can troubleshoot a lot faster.

I'm the lead architect, engineer, and troubleshooter. We have about four other people who are involved with it. We have several people because of our locations. We have more here, in the Idaho area, than we do in our other data center. We have one down in the southeast, hurricane area, of the United States. They're not expected to do a whole lot of disaster recovery, whereas we are.

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

I don't dive too much into the pricing side of things, but I'd like to see better tiering for Zerto's pricing. We do multi-tier VMs. I don't think I should be paying a penalty and price for a tier-three VM where I don't need a really tight SLA like I do for a tier-one.

Also, if we're looking to replace the data center backup solution, I have VMs that I may not need for a week in the event of a disaster. I'd like to see a backup price per VM, rather than the tier-one licensing that I currently pay for, per VM. I'd like to see better tiering in regards to the licensing.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have Commvault, Cohesity, and Veeam. Veeam is probably the closest to Zerto for ease of use. The problem is that Veeam doesn't have the technical background of the split-write that Zerto has. Veeam can be very painful. It can't protect any VM in your infrastructure. Its process of doing snapshots is very painful. Whereas with Zerto, it doesn't matter how busy the VM is, it can protect it. Veeam does not do it that way, but its GUI is pretty easy to use. But again, if it doesn't work, it doesn't matter how easy it is.

Commvault and Cohesity are both complicated solutions. Cohesity is like Veem, it is snapshot technology. Its GUI is okay but it's a little cryptic and that's the thing that I don't like about it. With 25 years of doing IT, I can tell that the interface that Cohesity designed was done by Linux engineers. It's very kludgy with multiple clicks. You've got to know where to go. With Zerto, it's plain and it's simple to use.

What other advice do I have?

Do your homework. Do a PoC. Make sure you have technical people doing your PoC, people who can dive deep into the technology. If you do your due diligence on the PoC, it will win every time. We did the PoC against five other products, and no one could touch Zerto on the technical side of it, at all, and that's besides the ease of use.

What I've learned from using it is to make sure you're able to tune the replication. Like any replication, if you're doing boot from stand or you're replicating your launch from place to place, you have to tune it. I was fortunate. I've been tuning replication for many years. If you're doing long distance, you have very high latency and you need to compensate for that. I worked with Zerto developers and we were able to tune replication to meet our site-to-site requirements. That was a key thing, and that's missed a lot of times. When people deploy the solution, they're not always keeping up with the SLA, and it has nothing to do with how it was deployed. It has to do with the pipe and the latency between site-to-site. That tends to be missed when deploying replication.

It is on our drawing board to look at Zerto for backups and long-term retention. I would say we're going to end up using it. It makes sense, at least from my standpoint, to keep things simple. It already has the data, so why not use it to move it wherever?

When it comes to the fact that it provides both backup and disaster recovery in one platform, I had never thought about the backup piece. When they announced it, it just made sense to me as an engineer with a logical mind. "Hey, I'm already holding the data, shoveling it across states. Instead of putting it here, why not put it over here at the same time?" So I was very excited about a two-for-one product. My company has backup solutions and they're struggling with them. I'm looking to replace their backup solutions with Zerto, probably in 2021.

We're also still looking at doing DR in the cloud rather than in a physical data center. We've done some testing with it. In my previous company we were using it and deployed it around the globe. Due to border restrictions, we had to go to the cloud with it. It was big because we were able to go to the cloud and we didn't have to stand up another data center. I'll be conservative and say that it saved us a few million dollars.

I give Zerto a nine out of 10. The only reason that I'm not giving it a 10 is that I'd like to see the GUI made into an appliance.

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.
MB
Systems Architect - Cloud at a computer software company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Top 20
We are able to show, at a customer-level of granularity, what a customer's RPO was at any point, in real time

Pros and Cons

  • "Four years ago when we did a PoC between two other vendors and Zerto, there were two features of Zerto that sold it, hands-down. One was the ease of creating protection groups, the ease with which our engineers could create protection, add virtual machines into the Zerto product, and get them under DR protection."
  • "The second feature that sold us was the sub-second RPO. One of the things that made Zerto's product stand out from some of the more traditional solutions four years ago was its ability to maintain sub-second RPO over a group of machines, and that group of machines could be spread over multiple storage hardware."
  • "The number-one area in which they need to improve their product is what I would call "automatic self-healing." This is related to running them at scale... We have 1,000 VRAs and if any one of their VRAs has a problem, goes offline, all of the customer protection groups and all of the customers that are tied to that VRA are not replicating at all. That means the RPO is slipping until somebody makes a manual effort to fix the issue. It has become a full-time job at my company for somebody to keep Zerto running all the time, everywhere, and to keep all the customers up and going."

What is our primary use case?

Our use case is 100 percent disaster recovery between two different geographies. We have a very large private cloud offering. We've got about 1,200 customers and almost 10,000 VMs that are under Zerto protection. Every one of those virtual machines needs to be replicated from Waltham to Chicago, from the East Coast of the U.S. to the central U.S. Likewise, we have a European business with the exact same flow, although it's much smaller as far as number of VMs; it might be a couple of hundred. That implementation is going from Berlin to Amsterdam. We've got one-way protection in two different geographies and all of those machines are under Zerto protection.

How has it helped my organization?

The number-one benefit is that for the first time we could show, at a customer-level of granularity, how a customer was protected, and what their RPO was in, real time. Each one of our 1,200 or so customers has a portion of those 10,000 VMs. For the first time we were able to tell a product leader or product manager what the RPO was on Thursday at 2:00 PM for that customer. We could say, "Hey, it was 67 seconds." Our company is very customer-centric and customer-focused. There's less interest in what the overall health is, and a lot of times there's specific interest in, "Hey, how is that customer doing?" either for performance or for RPO time.

Zerto also allowed us to easily pick groups of virtual machines, group them as a whole, and have that be segregated from the storage layer. That is the storage-agnostic benefit from their product. That agnostic feature with respect to the storage layer allowed us to group VMs by customer and not only report on RPO by customer, but also to more easily sell different RPO plans. We were able to prioritize and say, "Okay, these 10 customers have platinum and these 500 have silver."

What is most valuable?

Four years ago when we did a PoC between two other vendors and Zerto, there were two features of Zerto that sold it, hands-down. One was the ease of creating protection groups, the ease with which our engineers could create protection, add virtual machines into the Zerto product, and get them under DR protection. The other products we were looking at required work from two different teams. The storage team had to get involved. With this product, the whole thing could be done by just our virtualization team, and that was a big sell for us.

The second feature that sold us was the sub-second RPO. One of the things that made Zerto's product stand out from some of the more traditional solutions four years ago was its ability to maintain sub-second RPO over a group of machines, and that group of machines could be spread over multiple storage hardware. It was the storage-agnostic features of the product.

What needs improvement?

The number-one area in which they need to improve their product is what I would call "automatic self-healing." This is related to running them at scale. If you're a small company with 50 VMs, this doesn't really become a problem for you. You don't have 1,000 blades and 1,000 of their VRAs running that you need to keep healthy. But once you get over a certain scale, it becomes a full-time job for someone to keep their products humming. We have 1,000 VRAs and if any one of their VRAs has a problem, goes offline, all of the customer protection groups and all of the customers that are tied to that VRA are not replicating at all. That means the RPO is slipping until somebody makes a manual effort to fix the issue. It has become a full-time job at my company for somebody to keep Zerto running all the time, everywhere, and to keep all the customers up and going. 

They desperately need to work self-healing into the core product. If a VRA has a problem, the product needs to be able to take some sort of measure to self-heal from that; to reassign protection. Right now it doesn't do anything in that self-healing area.

For how long have I used the solution?

My company implemented Zerto in 2016, so we've been live with their product for a little over four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability comes back to size and scale. It depends. If you are not replicating heavy workloads—meaning you don't have a SQL server that's doing thousands and thousands of IOPS, and you don't have multiple SQL Servers on the same very large hardware blade—Zerto is incredibly stable, based on my experience with the product. 

However, we are doing that. There's a one-to-one relationship between the Zerto VRA, which is essentially their chunk of code that does the replication, and a physical server. The physical server is running anywhere from one to as many virtual servers as someone can fit onto it. And that one VRA has to manage and push all the change blocks for all the workloads running on it. So if you've got five or six really heavy workloads running, that one VRA that has to handle all of that and push it to your destination can, and does, crash. VRAs in that situation crash or become unstable. We've worked a lot with Zerto over the last two years on tweaking the VRAs with advanced settings. We've directly been involved with identifying a couple of bugs with the VRAs. When the VRAs are pushed, they can only be pushed so far and then they crash.

It does perform. However, we have VRAs that crash all the time. When we go back and we look at why they crashed it's because we're pushing them too hard. We're doing things that they would say we shouldn't be doing. They would say, "Don't set six SQL Servers on the same blade. That's too much. Don't do that."

Zerto has worked with us very effectively on identifying advanced settings that we can make to the VRAs to make them perform better, and to be more stable in the "abusive" environment that we throw at their code base.

It could be more stable for really heavy use cases like that. But Zerto would come back and say, "Well, our best practices would have you put some sort of anti-affinity rule in place so that you don't end up with that many heavy I/O machines on a single blade." They would say that doing so is not best practice; don't do it. You could say that we abused their product, in that sense. 

But it works. If you align with best practices, it's pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have no concerns about the scalability, although I should qualify that statement. Zerto can scale horizontally extremely well. They've got one VRA per blade and that one VRA is their data plane. You can scale out your environment horizontally with as many blades or servers as you want, which is how people do virtualization and Zerto will scale with you. We've never hit a limit as far as its ability to scale as horizontally.

The caveat would be, as I mentioned elsewhere, the size of the pipe in your infrastructure to handle all of that replication. But that doesn't tie to the Zerto product itself. 

In terms of the issue of VRAs crashing, you want to scale horizontally rather than scale vertically, because if you scale vertically you're packing more and more virtual machines into the same number of physical servers. You're stacking them up high rather than across. If you stack them up high you have concerns about the scalability of the single VRA. The VRAs do get overloaded. Don't pack them too high. Scale out, not up.

Zerto has spread out as a company. They've mushroomed out into other areas. They've started to develop a presence in backup and they've started to develop a larger presence in reporting. Their core product, however, is known as ZVR—Zerto Virtual Replication. We've implemented that core product 100 percent. There's no other way we could be consuming it differently or more effectively.

The newer stuff they've come out with—certainly the backup—we don't touch that at all. The backup product is not ready for prime time. It might be good for a small customer that may have 50 machines they want to back up. But for our use case, with SOC compliance, and having to report on the success of backups for recovery, and although we looked very closely at their backup and where they were going with it, it's not ready for us.

They're starting to go into Docker containers. None of our product right now is containerized.

A third area is analytics and reporting. The analytics and reporting would be the one new area that they've put focus on that we could be using more and getting more value out of. They've got a SaaS solution now for reporting called Zerto Analytics. We do use it. You turn on their core product and you tell it to send your reports to their SaaS offering. We've done that and we can consume the analytics product, but we just haven't really operationalized it yet. That, for us, has been a tool looking for a problem.

How was the initial setup?

It took us about two months to deploy the solution, but that was because we're a very conservative company. We purposely went extremely slowly. If we had wanted to go faster, it could have been done probably in a week or two, to get all 6,000 VMs under protection.

What about the implementation team?

When we deployed it, there were two dedicated people at our company who were involved, paired up with three people from a Professional Services team from Zerto. As a tertiary, we had a full-time person from our VAR, the reseller that sold us the licensing for Zerto. With that help from Zerto and the value added reseller, it only took two of us to install it to about 600 blades and probably 5,000 virtual machines.

Our experience was excellent. Both teams were great. It was a very painless rollout.

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

I'm less involved with the pricing and licensing area now. The last time I was involved was a couple of years ago. In my opinion, their model is somewhat inflexible, especially for their backup product.

One of the reasons why we didn't pursue looking further at their backup product was, simply, licensing. Today we have to buy a Zerto license for every virtual machine that we want protected by their product. We have a lot of virtual machines that aren't production and that don't need to be protected by their product. They don't need sub-second RPOs. They do, however, need to be backed up. But Zerto's licensing model two years ago was, "Well, we don't care that you just need to back up those VMs, and you don't really need to replicate them. It's the same price."

We would have had to double our licensing costs for Zerto to adopt it as a backup solution. It was just not even within the realm of possibility financially. It made no financial sense for us to move off our current backup vendor. Their inability to diverge in any way from that was rigid.

Their licensing could be less rigid and more open to specific companies' use cases.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

The other two vendors we evaluated back were Site Recovery Manager by VMware, and whatever Veeam's product was at the time. We also looked at CommVault lightly, but they were never considered seriously.

What other advice do I have?

Zerto can do what it says it can do. It can absolutely provide sub-second recovery point objectives, but with a couple of caveats. The caveats tend to apply to large companies like mine, and by "large" I mean if you have over 2,000 to 3,000 virtual machines, versus a small to medium-sized company that maybe has 50 to 500. Once you cross that barrier, you're getting into a larger environment that you're trying to replicate with Zerto.

A couple things can break down. Zerto's product doesn't control the path between your source production data and the destination you're trying to send it to. There can be tons of bottlenecks on that path; you can be going around the world. If the bottleneck doesn't exist there, their product can absolutely do what it says it does. It's up to the customer. The people using Zerto have to understand that they own the bottlenecks in their environment. If there is a bottleneck between production and the targeted DR, the RPOs are going to slip. You're going to go from sub-seconds to minutes or hours. That's not necessarily a fault of Zerto's product. It's the fault of the design of the customer's environment and what they brought it into.

That doesn't just exist for the pipe between the two sites. On the destination side, the side that's receiving this data, the storage layer underneath needs to be more performant than the production side. That's somewhat of a strange concept for a lot of customers and people coming into the Zerto solution. They see the marketing side of, "10 seconds to RPO" and say, "Yeah, I want that." But what it means is that you've really got to look at your hardware and you've got to have class-A hardware the whole way through that Zerto pipeline, for their product to do what it says it does. Zerto makes that very clear. They don't recommend hardware; they're not in the business of supporting other vendors. But they have a published list of best practices. The best practices clearly say everything that I just said. They also have best practices around managing your workload I/O on the source side, so that you don't overwhelm their product.

But not everyone follows best practices. Certainly, when we implemented it we said, "Yeah, we get that. We understand what you're telling us. We understand that's a best practice, but we're not going to do it anyway, because it's too expensive," or we didn't have it in budget for that year. So we knew it  and we went in without following them. A couple of years later, when we got to a tipping point, we realized, "Okay, we need to go back and align with some of those best practices," things we didn't think that we had the time to align with back in 2016. We've made that journey painfully with their product, but they were very upfront with us on what the requirements for their product would be.

Overall, I would rate Zerto as a solid eight out of 10 for the core disaster recovery offering.

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.