Friday, September 13, 2013

Zerto Virtual Replication

Zerto Virtual Replication 3.0 was designed to provide replication at the hypervisor level. Zerto Virtual Replication provides a business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) solution in virtual environments, enabling the replication of mission-critical applications that also provides automation of failovers and recoveries.

Zerto has moved physical array based replication to the hypervisor which follows the trend of abstracting hardware functionality to software for the software-defined datacenter. Their solution dramatically simplifies disaster recovery designs, and gives IT professionals the option of using cloud DR solutions from one of Zerto's cloud partners.

The Zerto components include:

  • Zerto Virtual Manager (ZVM): A Windows service, which manages everything required for the replication between the protection and recovery sites, except for the actual replication of data. The ZVM interacts with the vCenter Server to get the inventory of VMs, disks, networks, hosts, etc. and then service the Zerto GUI within vSphere Client console for the user to create and manage protected virtual machines. The ZVM also monitors changes in the VMware environment and responds accordingly. For example, a VMotion operation of a protected VM from one host to another is intercepted by the ZVM so the Zerto GUI will update it accordingly to the user. 
  • Virtual Replication Appliance (VRA): A virtual machine installed on each ESX/ESXi hosting virtual machines to be protected or recovered, to manage the replication of data from protected virtual machines to the recovery site.
  • Zerto Cloud Connector (ZCC): A cloud connector routes traffic between two networks belonging to different organizations, such as between a customer network and a cloud provider replication network, in a secure manner. Using a ZCC means that a cloud provider does not need to go through complex network and routing setups to ensure complete separation between a customer network and the cloud provider network.
  • Zerto vSphere Client console plug-in: A plug-in in the vSphere Client console that enables managing recovery using Zerto Virtual Replication from the console.

First, you install the Zerto Virtual Manager on a Windows 2008 (or higher) server in both the Protected and Replication Site, each ESXi host gets a Zerto Virtual Replication Appliance, and then you pair the sites by pointing to the peer site's IP address. Pretty simple!

You don't have to worry about integrating into third-party storage replication adapters which limits your ability to choose storage vendors and storage solutions.

What this provides is the ability to develop a business strategy for protecting your Tier 1 (gold) applications with a different protection level than your Tier 2 (silver) applications. Tier 1 applications may run on the same high-end equipment in the Replication Site in the event of a disaster, but your business may choose a different class of compute and storage for Tier 2 applications if they can run in a degraded state until the Primary Site is operational.

Furthermore, you may decide that the Tier 2 and Tier 3 (bronze) applications are better suited for a Zerto cloud partner.

We talked about this in my blog post Showing Business Value with a Private Cloud.

Virtual Protection Groups encompasses the entire application stack. It is configured and managed as a single entity representing an entire application with all its components and dependencies. You don't have to vMotion the virtual machines to a replicated LUN, or re-architect the underlying storage infrastructure. Physical location of the data is irrelevant.

By creating a Virtual Protection Group for multi-tier applications you can provide point-in-time protection from 1 hour to 5 days, set the target RPO, the Virtual Protection Group Priority, and boot order of the virtual machines.

Another option you have with a Virtual Protection Group is to pre-seed the Replication Site by physical courier before you start the synchronization. That way it doesn't take as long for the initial synchronization of the data, and ensures that you don't impact business activity.

From the networking perspective, you can configure the Failover Move network and the Failover Test network. The test network could be an isolated environment on your Replication Site's vCenter Server to test the functionality of the applications in the Virtual Protection Group.

After you have everything setup, the Zerto vSphere Client Console shows you the status of the protected group.

In addition, Zerto Virtual Replication provides multi-site support for remote and branch offices. If you have multiple field sites, you can have them all replicating back to the primary corporate datacenter.

Once multi-site replication is setup, click on the Topology tab on the Zerto vSphere Client Console and you can view the site layout.

If you wanted to use one of Zerto's cloud partners for DR-as-a-Service, you would connect to the cloud provider via VPN, to a network that has a connection to the internet or to a wider network that enables a connection between the cloud site and the organization site. And then all the traffic to and from the organization is routed through a Zerto Cloud Connector.


Data is the lifeblood of corporations. Faults, failures, and natural disasters may cause data to be inaccessible or lost; resulting in a catastrophic effect on organizational operations. By using application classification, IT professionals can implement a business continuity strategy that simplifies and reduces costs of protection, and in turn meet their businesses' recovery objectives.

End user expectations have never been higher for IT operations, this is being driven by their familiarity with cloud based and mobile solutions that give them instant access to resources from anywhere on any device. A successful business continuity plan for your organizations mission-critical applications can ensure you meet those expectations.

Having a tool like Zerto Virtual Replication will help your organization sleep better at night knowing your corporate data is protected.

Zerto has placed a lot of thought into creating a solution that balances out cost and efficiency. Zerto dramatically reduces your day-to-day management complexity and streamlines your operations, eliminating the complexity typically associated with managing BC/ DR software solutions.

Zerto for the win!

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