In technology we tend to notice the big headlines that change the I.T. world, but sometimes the biggest changes come along quietly. Think about the early days of Citrix or VMWare, both started as niche technologies that steadily grew over time to change, well, everything. As stand-alone technologies they were powerful, but when combined together the potential became much greater than the sum of the parts.
A new revolution is stirring now with Hyper-Convergence and most have heard of it and many have deployed it already. At the same time though a quieter revolution is occurring, courtesy of Zerto, that focuses on new approaches to Replication and Disaster Recovery. Although this sounds dangerously close to “Backup”, i.e. BORING, it is one of the most exciting developments in recent times.
The basic idea is simple. Just as we have done with compute, storage and network virtualization, the power of any given function shifts from proprietary hardware/software combinations to a simplified software solution. In the case of Zerto, replication and DR functions have moved up the stack to provide replication at the Virtual Machine level. So instead of replication strategies that are dependent on specific hardware and hypervisor products/configurations, Zerto allows the replication and activation of protected VMs across hypervisors, and, on any type of storage or compute platform.
So how does this relate to hyper convergence? Well, the power is in the combination of features- now you can shrink your entire infrastructure to a fraction of it’s current size, lower the cost, eliminate most of the complexity, minimize the number of multiple infrastructure vendors and platforms, and, have nearly instantaneous DR capabilities! Here’ s a quick case study from an internal memo:
Arizona Tile maintains (2) Data Centers across their campus, each one has about 3-4 racks of gear, much of it is older equipment. In the past we built a highly redundant storage/hypervisor/Citrix environment that spans these two data centers via direct linked fiber. Citrix has been the key enabler for their geographically disperse operations and they rely heavily on thin client devices. They expressed the desire to move to a co-location facility about a year ago and we assisted by setting up a 3rd storage node for them at COLO. This allowed them to have an off-site copy of their data volumes and a future location for primary production
- We are able to run ALL OF THEIR PRIMARY WORKLOADS across all cities and states on only (2) Atlantis CX12 units–4U total!
- These are placed at COLO significantly reducing the infrastructure burden on the staff
- Zerto will migrate existing VMs from on campus to COLO with just a short reboot per VM. NO SPECIAL STORAGE PRODUCTS REQUIRED, no SRM, NetApp mirroring, etc, This same software, less than $1000 per VM, will be used to fail back in DR and testing scenarios. The customer can even migrate to Hyper-V if they choose using the same product
- The existing on-site SAN and computer resources are re-purposed as the DR Facility (at no additional cost)!
The combination of these two technologies together have brought one of the most rapid advances in my career to the Architect’s Toolbox. The ability to shrink an entire Data Center environment, move it to a professional COLO all while lowering costs, increasing performance, implementing DR and reducing complexity is staggering–oh, did I mention at a lower cost?…..Welcome to the Revolution!!