Zerto vs. Veeam: Compare 2 disaster recovery providers

Cloud failover, automation and orchestration are just a few of the features to consider in comparisons of Veeam and Zerto. See how the two DR products compare.

Zerto and Veeam are both market leaders in the virtual DR industry. As such, the two products share many similarities.

For example, both Zerto and Veeam Backup & Replication offer continuous data protection (CDP) for on-premises and cloud environments. Both companies charge per VM for their DR products. There are, however, some key differences between the two that DR admins should know.

Overview of Zerto

Zerto is a real-time DR replication and failover product. In July 2021, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) entered a deal to acquire Zerto. After the $374 million transaction is finalized, Zerto will join HPE's GreenLake cloud service products.

Zerto aims to ensure the lowest possible recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs), as well as simplify DR management tasks through a straightforward interface. Zerto has a backup component, but it's secondary to its DR capabilities.

One unique feature of Zerto is its crash-consistent virtual protection groups (VPGs). Rather than treat VMs as individual machines, Zerto users group VMs together into these VPGs -- for example, one VPG for all of the VMs in an application stack -- and the group fails over to the same point in time.

A recent Zerto update, Zerto 9.0, also added ransomware defense capabilities, including immutability for Amazon S3 environments via the backup feature. Other new features include the ability to detect newly added VMs and automatically assign them backup policies via tags.

Zerto installation, in its most basic form, requires  two Windows servers. Core components of a Zerto deployment include the Zerto Virtual Manager, a Windows service that manages pairing and configuration between the protected site and the recovery site, and Virtual Replication Appliances (VRA), a hardened Linux-based virtual appliance that manages the replication of data from VMs to the recovery site.

To scale out, the platform requires a virtual appliance for each on-site host to track changes and replicate them to the DR environment.

Overview of Veeam Backup & Replication

Veeam's CDP complements its other offerings and presents a wide range of options and tools for both backup and DR.

Like Zerto, Veeam's core functionality relates to extremely low RPOs. The Veeam Backup & Replication platform takes a tiered approach to DR. Rather than have each VM be as close to zero RPO as possible, admins can set DR requirements based on how critical a workload is. Less critical servers can be synchronized less often, on a schedule, which saves bandwidth, CPUs and journal space. Recovery can even go as far as a restore from disk backup sets if the machines are not crucial. This functionality comes with some setup and management overhead, but the details depend heavily an organization's predicted usage scenario. Veeam's scale-out requirements are not complex.

Also like Zerto, the company rolled out new ransomware protection capabilities in its recent update --- version 11 -- of the Veeam Backup & Replication platform.

Automation and testing

With any virtual DR product, the ability to test and verify a machine's integrity is critical. Both Zerto and Veeam enable virtual machines to fail over into an isolated test configuration so admins can ensure everything works as expected.

With any virtual DR product, the ability to test and verify a machine's integrity is critical.

Manual failover activities are reasonable chores for small IT environments. As an environment grows, however, it becomes harder to track, document and test whether failover occurs correctly. Both products have well-documented and extensive APIs that let administrators write scripts and integrate third-party automation tools to streamline these tasks.

Zerto offers a free Zerto Orchestrator for automated testing. Admins can expand and customize Zerto Orchestrator, depending on their needs and skill set. The Orchestrator performs scheduled failover tests automatically, verifying when a test completes successfully and notifying admins if it fails.

The Veeam Disaster Recovery Orchestrator is billed per VM in addition to the base license cost. The orchestrator can provide automated documentation and report generation for Veeam admins. It also contains a built-in set of scripts that admins can run post-failover. For example, the orchestrator can check that the Microsoft IIS web server responds to the newly brought up machines that failed over during the test. When performing DR tests and live failover, it can be useful as a verification tool to ensure the failed-over VMs' operation gets built into the automated DR process.  

Cloud failover

IT organizations are using cloud as a DR environment because it can reduce both costs and complexity of recovery events.

Both Zerto and Veeam offer a breadth of capabilities for cloud failover and DR. Both tools require cloud-based appliances, supported by the cloud provider, to fail over to the cloud environment.

Zerto fails over using predefined resources, regardless of the source or destination hypervisor or cloud environment -- though this capability requires an Enterprise Cloud Edition license. An administrator who can do an on-premises test or failover can fail over to the cloud just as easily within the GUI. The setup and configuration will differ slightly, however, depending on individual circumstances.

Veeam also fails over from disparate hypervisors to the cloud. However, organizations cannot use Veeam Disaster Recovery Orchestrator for cloud failover yet. Veeam Backup & Replication does offer options to simplify restoration between hypervisors or cloud platforms.

Which DR product to choose?

Both Veeam Backup & Replication and Zerto offer excellent CDP and DR tools and, with respect to on-premises DR sites, there is not much one can do that the other can't. Both companies are also investing heavily in cloud migration capabilities, as per their public roadmaps.

Ultimately, Zerto is a DR company growing its portfolio into backup and Veeam is a backup company that has established itself in the DR market. As such, they have different approaches and tools to solve a similar set of challenges.  

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