IT Leadership Opinion

Our Vision is to Offer Self-managing, Automated Data Management Some Day: Danny Allan, Veeam Software

Veeam Software, the backup, DR, and intelligent data management company, displayed its technology prowess and dominance during the recently concluded VeeamON in Miami last month. The motto of the company, while entering in the second phase of growth, is to offer ‘simplicity and reliability’ through its array of data management software products

Danny Allan, Vice President, Product Strategy, Veeam Software  exclusively spoke to on a variety of issues including company’s sharp focus on the increasing dominance of cloud and how the company is fully aligned with the changing needs of its over 350,000 customers globally in the cloud data management space.

Below are the excerpts of the interview:

DCIO: Ratmir Timashev, CEO of Veeam, during his keynote at VeeamON 2019 spoke of Act 1 and Act 2 – the phases in which the company looked at transitions for growth. How is this transition going to help Veeam delivering a better customer experience?

Danny Allan (DA): The Act 1, which was the first phase of company since its inception, was about modernising the datacentre. At the time of Veeam’s inception in 2006, the datacentres were catching up with virtualisation and companies were looking for best possible ways for data protection. We were also focused on the data protection and data management for the modern datacentres. But around ten years ago, we started witnessing the growing footprint of the Cloud. Today, Cloud has become the new normal. Most organisations are building services in the cloud. This, for us, defines the Act 2 and we are well poised to take advantage of this phase. Most of our customers are in process of transition from on-premise model to a cloud-based model. Veeam is providing cloud-based data management solutions to its large installed base as they prepare to move into the cloud.

How does this affect our product strategy?

We have been historically building solutions suitable for datacentres. About a year and a half ago, we trained our focus on building solutions that will not only help in migrating to the cloud, but also protect the critical workloads in the cloud. This not only shows our future-readiness but also defines our focus going forward.

DCIO: So, does it change the customer experience significantly?  

DA: Not sure, if it significantly alters our already strong focus of keeping things ‘simple and reliable’. We kept it simple and reliable during the Act-1, when we catered to the on-premises datacentres. We will keep it simple and reliable on the cloud as well. What changes now is that users will have a single management interface for both. When they move from point A to point B, they don’t have to change the environment in which they are working. We help them by consolidating the interface and licensing that is portable from on-premise to the cloud.

You’ve spoken about five stages of the cloud data management – protecting workloads, cloud mobility, visibility, orchestration and automation. Can you elaborate on it and how does it translate in the real-world environment?

DA: As frustrating as it could be, but 60% of the industry still struggles with backup, which is the first step in the data management journey. Three copies of data back-up, two different media types, two on-site and one offsite and so on… Most companies still struggle with making it right. Being a cloud data management company, we offer to partner with customers to set not only address those issues but also simplify backup.

Moving workloads in the cloud is an essential step in a digital transformation journey and should play a key role in the data management and protection strategy as well. Data?portability is also critical?for organisations wanting to maintain speed and control of their multi-cloud environment. Through a couple of easy steps, we help customers migrate to any cloud – AWS or Azure.

The third key aspect is protecting the cloud data. I would say 50-60% of organisations globally, depending on the industry segment, are now moving from conventional backup to cloud mobility. While the customers can leverage any public cloud service or even an MSP, our software solution offers the ability to protect data without the cost of building and maintaining a second site.

The fourth and fifth stages are what I am more excited about. This is when we move towards true orchestration, and finally self -managing/automated data management. But frankly, we’re 10 years away from that stage. Most of the industry is still grappling with the first two phases. However, that doesn’t deter us from innovating. Veeam Availability Orchestrator v2 is all about the stage four. Next step will be self-managing, and the product teams are at it.

DCIO: What’s special about the recently launched Veeam Availability Orchestrator v2? How would it differentiate from the previous versions?

DA: The most significant thing in the Veeam Availability Orchestrator v2 is that it orchestrates and restores from the backups. In the past, when you’re doing business continuity, disaster recovery, it was always based on replicas. That was expensive, because you’re paying for 200% capacity. The v2 automatically leverages both backup and replica protection data for use cases beyond recovery verification, such as DevOps, patch and upgrade testing, analytics and more. What it really means is democratisation. It brings down the cost considerably. It also enables the fastest possible recovery because you can orchestrate it not from a replica, but from the backup that you already have. That, to me, is a game changer. No one else has that capability – true orchestration from something that you’re already doing.

DCIO: Tell us about the product MINE, a result of collaboration with Nutanix. Will you also work with other similar hyper converged infra players?

DA: There is still a class of users who’d like to invest in an on-premise, hardware-based solution. Keeping that in mind, we had announced Nutanix Mine with Veeam for secondary storage. It is Veeam backup and replication integrated with Nutanix storage management that simplifies data protection across the datacentre and the cloud. A single product delivers enterprise?class data availability on highly-scalable and agile Veeam Availability Suite v10.

As far as working with other hyper converged players is concerned, we are open. It is the equivalent of ‘Intel Inside’. Anyone who produces hardware, who wants an appliance model, we provide them a choice from data management standpoint.  As I said earlier, customers still love the simplicity of buying something, sliding it into the shelf, and powering it on.

DCIO: Do you think it is better deal than having a cloud-based solution?

DA: No, I don’t think so. However, about 20% of the market still believes in an appliance. The appliances work really well if you have an existing datacentre and you have mostly centralised operations. If you have multiple locations, it is not a good choice. For example, we have a customer in Australia with over 2800 retail sites. Now, they’re never going to put an appliance at 2800 sites. That’s where a cloud-based solution fit well. You can’t put a physical appliance in the cloud. It doesn’t work in the situations where you have multiple Remote Office, Branch Office (ROBO). But for customers that have datacentres, and they have to have backup there an appliance-based solution works well. Some of them want the flexibility of a software-defined solution that they design. Some of them say I don’t want to deal with that. I just want to plug something in. Point is would we want to ignore that 20% market? The answer is no and that’s why we work with most hyper-converged infrastructure players.

DCIO: In terms of the product roadmap and product innovation what is that we can expect next from Veeam?

DA: We expect lot more innovation coming in the Veeam Availability Suite v10 (Veeam Backup & Replication 10 and Veeam One v10). It will offer support for physical computers backup by fully integrating of Veeam agents for Windows and Linux into the Veeam backup and replication.

As part of product development, we look much beyond just the next release. There are more exciting things lined up, which are in the R&D stage right now. We’re looking at new technologies, like containers and serverless. How do you continue with data mobility in newer type of environments? There will also be new, exciting things around machine learning and artificial intelligence that we’re talking about. But again, these things are, are years away, not releases away.

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