Zerto has 350 CSPs in its network in addition to supporting AWS, Azure and other IaaS providers. Why? Because there is no one-size-fits-all cloud for customers, said Zerto CEO Ziv Kedem, opening the company’s second ZertoCON.
“Almost 100 percent of our customers are telling us, ‘We are building a cloud strategy,’ but most of them are still trying to figure out what this cloud strategy is,” said Kedem. One commonality is that the end goal is more and more often not just business continuity, but IT resilience — the ability to bounce back from disasters like ransomware or a lost data center, yes, but also to react swiftly to business-driven change, like moving a website to handle an unexpected spike in demand or facilitating M&A activity.
Meanwhile, business leaders are designating more applications as mission-critical because they generate business and revenue.
“Requirements are becoming different, your service levels that you’re promising the business are tightening,” he said. “You cannot say, ‘I’ll recover it tomorrow.’ It has to be now.”
To support that, the company previewed a capability to shift applications and data into and out of Microsoft Azure using Zerto Virtual Replication, under existing licenses, an addition with big implications for customers concerned with lock-in. It also announced new analytics features that will enable partners to track trends in real time and generate historical views. Both are due later this year with release 5.5., code-named Balvenie. Kedem said all new functionality will be available via the API as well as the dashboard.
It’s clear where Zerto falls on the multicloud versus hybrid cloud discussion. At a briefing, vice president of product Rob Strechay said that the company sees hybrid cloud environments becoming the norm for customers and that, in fact, Microsoft was all-in on developing the ability to do bidirectional migrations, including committing funding for the nine-month project, in response to customer demand.
“People were saying, ‘This Azure thing is great, we love that you can fail it into AWS, we love that you can fail into Azure, but we don’t want lock-in, so start to think about how you can keep us free from that,” said Strechay. “They’re looking for that ‘escapability’ because it gives them comfort, that once they go in, they’re not locked in to one [cloud vendor].”
While Zerto’s goal is to have the same openness on all public and managed clouds, for now, bidirectional migration is only on Azure.
For partners wondering what’s in it for Microsoft, Strechay said that under CEO Satya Nadella there has been an “amazing” transformation in the way the company works with its technology partners.
“They helped develop this,” he said. “They understand why their customers want to have hybrid cloud.”
Kedem agreed, saying that when he talks to enterprise IT, lock-in is the No. 1 cloud concern. By engineering a way to easily move workloads in and out, Microsoft helps its own positioning.
And, Kedem points out that once services are running smoothly in the cloud, change-averse IT pros aren’t likely to pull them without a good reason, so it’s a win for Azure.
“They will actually prefer them to any cloud where it’s difficult to leave,” said Kedem. “That’s a good feature.”
In his keynote, Kedem told attendees that Zerto has grown head count by 60 percent and crossed the 5,000-customer mark, across 17 countries and ranging from small shops to Fortune 10 enterprises.
While financial services and health care are top verticals, he said any firm concerned about maintaining data resiliency as they transform into a cloud-first, digital company is a potential customer.
“When you use the cloud, change becomes the new norm,” said Kedem.
Zerto customers Clinton Cruz of retailer Talbots (center) and Bob Lanning of Premier, a large health care purchasing group headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, joined Zerto CMO Gil Levonal (right) on stage to discuss use cases. Lanning says Premier is aggressively purchasing smaller companies and using Zerto to migrate data from acquired firms to its main data center.
Talbots has about 600 brick and mortar locations in addition to its e-commerce site, and Cruz said the retailer originally purchased Zerto Virtual Replication so it could migrate its website from one data center to another; it now uses the product as its main DR solution. In a recent drill, the IT team took down and recovered its data analytics and financial systems, including the Active Directory domain, in under an hour.
Lanning says that for health care, the move to cloud has been slow, but a push on M&A has caused them to reconsider.
“Our CIO is starting to question, ‘Are we really a data center company?” he said. “We may just decide to let our service providers handle that.”
Microsoft was a main sponsor, and Kedem welcomed Dominic Anschutz, director, global cloud team for Microsoft, to the stage to discuss how Zerto supports Redmond’s vision of a pure hybrid cloud with true bidirectional movement of workloads. Customers and partners at the event could get demos, with the capability coming online this summer.
“Microsoft’s whole model under the leadership of Satya is evolving,” said Anschutz. “It’s a hybrid cloud model.” He said Azure, in combination with Microsoft ExpressRoute and Zerto, is an easy way to get customers into the cloud, and that Microsoft is committed to helping its partners add those services.
“I’m looking forward to the next couple of years, because Zerto is definitely going places,” said Anschutz.
Navisite Product Management Lead William Toll (left) and Expedient Vice President of Product Strategy John White joined Levonai (right) on stage to talk about the CSP partner angle. Toll characterized DR as the “stepping stone” that gets customers into public cloud and says partners can build from there.
Expedient uses ZVR to initially pull data from new customer sites into its data centers.
“We probably moved 3,000 VMs using Zerto last year,” said White. “We had one customer say in one of the tickets that it was ‘like magic.'”
In a briefing, president Paul Zeiter told Channel Partners that he’s confident Zerto can adapt to a fast-evolving infrastructure landscape. Right now, the ZVR product can replicate VMware and Hyper-V VMs. Applications running on other hypervisors, such as Nutanix Acropolis, or on bare metal must be handled outside ZVR.
As for customers moving to containers and microservices? “We view it as an opportunity,” said Zeiter. He also elaborated on the company’s relationship with IBM, which incorporates Zerto into Bluemix, and HPE, which users ZVR for pulling workloads into its private cloud.
Does he see friction between IBM’s services arm or HPE’s channel and Zerto’s partners?
“I’ve been in the channel for a long time, and it’s something I approach with high levels of sensitivity,” he said. “A partner that has engaged us on a new opportunity and has been putting their time and effort into that, we protect them with a deal registration process to ensure that no one else can come in and undercut them from a pricing standpoint. I want to protect their margins and the investment that they made in that opportunity.”
He stresses that Zerto does not OEM or white-label. A customer acquiring ZVR is aware that it’s through Zerto, and the company guards against shopping on price.
Several execs characterized Zerto’s technology as “the fuel” powering data replication and movement for market-leading managed cloud and DRaaS providers, including Evolve IP, HPE Enterprise Services, TierPoint, IBM, iLand and Verizon. (See our Q&A with iLand channel director Koorosh Khashayar here.)
On stage, Zeiter used Gartner and Forrester leaderboards to illustrate that point.
“We are powering over 50 percent of those that are in the Magic Quadrant,” he said. That includes IBM, a ZertoCON sponsor. “We’re really resonating with some of the largest players, with a lot of technology of their own.”
As to that lone holdout on the upper right in Forrester’s Wave? He said that by ZertoCON 2018, Sungard AS should be sporting the red Z.
Sponsor and partner Nimble Storage is simpatico with Zerto on the concept of supporting movement of applications to Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services. It recently announced Nimble Cloud Volumes that will provide enterprise-grade availability and data services that Leonard Iventosch, Nimble’s vice president of worldwide channels, told us have not been readily available in block storage for the cloud. Iventosch added that the new offering presents partners with a “tremendous opportunity” to provide their customers with the reliability, performance and flexibility they require to put critical enterprise applications in either AWS or Azure.
Nimble also recently announced with ZeroStack a pre-tested, automated and fully supported converged private cloud solution.
Expedient Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Jonathan Rosenson illustrated the CSP’s mission of helping its customer IT pros become “IT heroes.”
Expedient, which vice president of product strategy White says is developing a channel program for digital service sellers, is a privately held company offering cloud and connectivity, managed services and colocation from seven data centers. All are interconnected with 10Gbps fiber, enabling customers to do multisite replication.
“Fail-back from Azure is an interesting story for us,” said White. Expedient was an early adopter of the Azure Stack on-premises private cloud offering, and as a CSP, he can see interesting possibilities for customers. We’ll bring you more on the company’s channel program when it launches.
Bryan Fisher, senior infrastructure engineer at Peak 10, says he’s used Zerto for his company’s DRaaS offering since 2012 and has always found it responsive to requests for feature adds and changes — sometimes too much so for the sake of stability. Fisher is happy with the new, more evenly paced update strategy discussed at the conference partner day.
Earlier this month, Peak 10 announced additions to its DRaaS offering with a new failback expansion feature that enables customers to recover data quickly to previous points in time up to 14 days earlier; natively, ZVR supports a 30-day journal retention period. Fisher told Channel Partners that journaling, along with one-to-many replication, may help customers affected by ransomware. Unfortunately, however, he says adoption of DRaaS is not where it should be despite Gartner’s estimate that it’s about a $1.7 billion market this year.
“It’s not popular enough,” said Fisher. “Small companies, with a few VMs, the last thing they’re thinking about is DR. They’re worried about ‘How do I get the next sale?’ What they should be worried about is, if they don’t protect their stuff, they won’t have any sales.”
He attributes the reluctance to a perception that DR is costly and complex, and encourages Peak 10 partners to demonstrate the ease of modern DRaaS, and to encourage frequent testing. Gartner predicts that the DRaaS opportunity will be more than $11 billion by 2021.
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