Zerto, my Notes and Thoughts

Earlier this year, I was involved on a POC for Zerto Virtual Replication in a VMware environment and took some notes of things that I liked and found useful about the product and the way it works.

I wanted to share here some of the things I have learned, for my own reference and obviously for anyone out there who is starting with the product and may find these notes useful. A disclaimer here though: Things you read here could have been misinterpreted or misunderstood by me and you should research and use Zerto's Technical Documentation if you plan on implementing it in your production environment.

Overall, I really like Zerto; it is intuitive and simple to use, yet very powerful and complete application that will allow you to protect virtual machines with RPO in seconds and give you very convenient features.

Let's review some basic acronyms and components you need to be familiar with:
Zerto Virtual Manager or ZVM: It is the central management interface installed on a Windows server, it allows you to manage all the DR tasks related to your source and target sites. You need one ZVM per vCenter Server.
Virtual Replication Appliance or VRA: This is the appliance deployed to each one of the hosts in the cluster where the VMs you intend to protect reside, as well as in the target hosts. These appliances manage the actual replication of data from source to target site. VRA's run Debian Linux for operating system.
VPG: Virtual Protection Group; it is the grouping of servers that replicate with the same parameters or settings; often used to group servers of the same application stack, so they can be tested and recover together. Important as when you failover to a Checkpoint, they are all consistent.

From my personal point of view and own experience I will list some of the features and cool options in no specific order.

The installation process: It cannot be simpler. Installing Zerto is straightforward process; you will need one Windows Server to install the software and link it to its dedicated vCenter Server. The software requires a minimum of 4GB of free space. The installation wizard offers two options; one is the “Custom installation” which will give you the opportunity to select a specific account to run the Zerto Virtual Manager service, the ability to choose an external or embedded database. The “Express installation” will use embedded database and run its service as Local System. Regardless of the option, you will need to enter the FQDN of your vCenter, an account with permissions and a Site Name. From the installation wizard you can choose to participate in the Online Services and Zerto Mobile Application which will give you access to Zerto Analytics which is a great new tool that's expanding. At the end of the wizard communication and credentials to vCenter are validated; if there are any issues, a warning will display. Installation completes within 5 minutes.

Logging in for the first time: You access Zerto from a browser on port 9669 (https://DR-vCenter.kolkes.com:9669/zvm).
You need to provide a license key when you first login, so you either enter a the key manually or pair with another site that is already licensed and running.
Its HTML5 interface is clean and very responsive, you see multiple tabs where you configure different things but one thing I found useful in this product is that you can access and initiate many tasks from various places in the UI. 
On a brand new installation there will be pop-up messages that will guide you through finalizing the setup and things you need to do in order to start protecting your VMs.

Main Zerto management screen

The tabs in the UI are intuitive but here is a quick summary of them: