Zerto announces Zerto for Kubernetes beta, and hands on lab for anyone

Zerto indicated it would make its long-awaited entry into Kubernetes earlier this year, and following the alpha program in conjunction with their virtual customer event in June, they have unveiled their beta, with the full release set for early next year.

Deepak Verma, Director of Product Strategy at Zerto

Today, continuous data protection [CDP] vendor Zerto, is announcing the beta program of Zerto for Kubernetes (Z4K), an extension of its  Zerto Platform  to support next-generation, cloud native applications. Zerto for Kubernetes is also being made available through a new hands-on lab running the Z4K beta code.

This isn’t exactly a surprise news announcement. Zerto first announced Zerto for Kubernetes at their ZertoCon event back in June. At that time, the beta was planned for the exact time frame at which it is now being rolled out, in conjunction with the virtual KubeCon event.

Zerto hasn’t been a first mover with Kubernetes. That’s partly because the company tends to be conservative rather than aggressive, and partly because their business has been focused mainly on primary workloads, which are of critical importance, and for that reason  are also ones that are not at the top of customers’ lists to move to containers.

“It’s just now reaching the point where traditional enterprises have gone from something where leading developers are playing with it, to broader developer use, and then to project, and finally to production,” said Deepak Verma, Director of Product Strategy at Zerto. “It wasn’t until this year that we got calls from our customers asking how to protect and recover Kubernetes workloads.”

The change in the type of application being put into Kubernetes containers also spurred Zerto to take action.

“We are all about protecting the data, not the VM, and with containers, it’s the same concept,” Verma indicated. “As long as the applications running in containers were stateless, then DR wasn’t a big deal. You can just restart it. Once applications started putting more state into Kubernetes, it got more interesting, with state happening at the container level and also container applications moving into production.”

Zerto thinks Kubernetes is still an early stage market as far as volume of business goes, but something the company now needs to be in, particularly as demand as picked up significantly since Zerto announced its plans to extend its platform to support Kubernetes in June.

“It’s not something where we pivot our company from VMs to containers overnight, and reorient our sales and presales efforts,” Verma said. “We know that 95% of our bill will still be paid by traditional VMs – both on prem and in the cloud. Still, customers need to know we have a solution for Kubernetes, and that we aren’t just leading with the old stuff. There’s still a lot of education that we have to do in those customer environments.

The hands-on lab running the Z4K beta code is designed to make it much more accessible than the beta. It is also explicitly designed to let users experience how Zerto works with Kubernetes, without actually having to do any of the hard parts of getting Kubernetes to work. The lab provides free, on-demand training on how to set up, configure, and manage a Z4K environment.

“When we did the alpha at ZertoCon we had a dozen or so enterprise customers, and it was limited to Zerto customers and partners,” Verma said. “Even there, we kept running into all the variations. VMware is VMware is VMware, but with Kubernetes, it’s all the different flavours. We ended up troubleshooting a lot of basic Kubernetes, and had to handhold customers. That became frustrating.”

The lessons learned there were put into effect in the hands-on-lab.

“We set up the lab to experience the product, rather than try and make Kubernetes work,” Verma said. “The Kubernetes side is prebuilt and workloads are running, so it shows how easily we can recover data, and removes the element of trying to spend two weeks getting Kubernetes up and running. People don’t have a lot of time for alphas and betas. This brings them to the water and holds up the cup so they can drink.”

A couple of dozen candidates are expected in the beta.

“In the alpha, we got 15-20 really good nuggets, 5 or 6 of which are already implemented in the beta code,” Verma said.

Verma also noted that channel partners have not exactly been on the bleeding edge when it comes to Kubernetes.

“I’m surprised at how slow the channel has been to move on this,” he said. “I’d urge the channel to talk about containers. It’s happening. It’s happening everywhere. If they aren’t in front of their customers on this, they are missing a huge opportunity around containers and serverless storage.

“Zerto is a conservative company,” he added. “If we are moving in, partners should too.”