Today, data is the new oil and organizations that leverage it efficiently will find themselves ahead in the race to survive and grow. On the other hand, the generation of data too has reached astronomical levels, leading to a veritable explosion. It is doubling every two years. dynamicCIO’s Executive Editor Muqbil Ahmar (DC) spoke with Milind Borate (MB), Co-founder and CTO of Druva, one of the biggest tech startups of India. In the past two decades, Milind has blazed new trails in database and storage technologies. During the free-wheeling chat, he elaborated on his cloud-based data protection and governance solutions company.
DC: Today, there is a data explosion. It is doubling every two years. It is rightfully considered as one of the most important assets of a company. There must be tremendous pressure on you as far as data management is concerned. How are you handling this data deluge?
MB: Druva is focused on helping clients build a solid foundation for data and unlock the value of data. Hence, we are constantly adding new features to improve our products and services. A very strong sentiment of SaaS is also that the product is always in the motion of adding customer value unlike legacy business which is sell once & forget it. Given our cloud infrastructure, ability to scale on-demand, and robust security architecture, this is a situation Druva is ideally designed to rapidly support.
Our cloud operations, IT, security, customer success team and larger organization all have robust continuity plans which ensure we support our customers without any disruption. We are maintaining our SLAs, be it service uptime or customer support case response time and our cloud backup services continue to operate without any interruption. The company has experienced a 70 percent year-over-year increase in recurring revenue for its data center workload protection solution, and a 50 percent growth in overall data under management. Druva offers more integrated features with AWS than any other vendor and introduced support for AWS Outposts and new intelligent cold storage tiering for data, reducing overall cost.
In addition to its strong capabilities and proven savings for data center workloads, Druva offers the industry’s most comprehensive coverage and automated capabilities, and with the ability to cover the entirety of modern cloud mandates – cloud-native environments, SaaS applications, and migrated workloads.
DC: What are the IT essentials for a remote working taskforce for business continuity, particularly in the current circumstances?
MB: Threats origin from multiple sources and with remote working becoming a norm, it has exposed a whole new world of possibilities. However, organizations are most exposed to threats while using:
- SaaS applications: People will continue to use SaaS applications, from messaging to virtual documents, etc., in order to replace what used to happen in person. Sensitive communication thus must comply with all regulations and be retained as business-critical information.
- Cloud native applications: Cloud platforms allocate new infrastructure quickly and easily. Without much experience on the platform, users may easily expose private data, overrun budgets, and lose data. Therefore, cloud environments need oversight.
- Endpoints: With the blurred lines between personal and professional environments, people can download ransomware on their laptop and infect their organization. They can also unintentionally expose private data. Hence, endpoint devices must be secured and protected.
CIOs need to ensure that they manage the risk of bad actors who will try to exploit vulnerable cloud and endpoint environments. They also need to monitor and manage online communication compliance at a broader scale than ever. Mistakes and miscommunication are bound to happen in a remote working scenario, threatening security, compliance, and uptime. Organisations should be equipped to be able to rapidly recover applications to a healthy state. The need of the hour for CIOs is to plan for how to identify, triage, and recover from such issues.
DC: With cloud coming in a big way, it is getting more and more critical for enterprises that their data is safe and secure. I am talking about all variations of cloud, be it public, private or hybrid, data availability is of critical importance. How do you see the entire cloud landscape and what is your perspective? How does your product sit in this picture?
MB: The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in businesses adopting cloud as it is a bridge to digitization and getting workforce, distribution, supply chain, etc. online. In the last several months we’ve seen years’ worth of digitization take place. A natural affinity to cloud-based solutions is developing as businesses look for technology that can help them scale efficiently, minimally impact employees, improve business resilience and can be deployed easily within today’s restrictive work environment. According to a June 2020 estimate by IDC, Asia-Pacific is expected to have the highest revenue growth rate for cloud system and service management software between 2020-2024, outpacing both the Americas and EMEA.
Druva is playing a critical role at every step of cloud adoption, as a leading cloud data protection provider, and the only SaaS based data protection provider. With no dependency on hardware, we can move faster to solve customer issues, minimize reliance on supply chains, and protect companies while their workforce is dispersed. As businesses are managing exponential growth of data as compared to previous years, they are also confronting risks that have nearly doubled. With Druva, organisations are able to manage and protect these sprawling environments, secure an increasingly remote workforce and bypass stalled supply chains and limitations of traditional data centers in light of the unprecedented pandemic situation.
Druva Cloud Platform offers seamless integrations with a wide variety of solution providers, including FireEye, Okta, Splunk, ServiceNow and many others to help customers do more with their data. More than 25 percent of the company’s cloud customers are now purchasing multiple workload protection across the Druva Cloud Platform. Additionally, Druva also expanded coverage of Microsoft365 with support for Sharepoint Online and Teams.
DC: Recently, there has tremendous increase in data threats in the Covid period. How do you see the threat landscape evolving? What peculiar challenges do enterprises face in the new normal?
MB: The world today is rapidly gravitating towards a hyper-connected ecosystem and this has led to a great rise in threats & risks for organisations. The threat landscape has greatly evolved as cyber criminals are strategically planning the attacks. It is a common practice for modern enterprises to adopt a “defense-in-depth” security approach, but the unfortunate reality is that nothing is perfect. Any organization that collects information of its customers must be prepared to keep that data safe–and prioritize data protection in the first place.
Protocols and data recovery processes with physical separation, reliable availability and rapid recovery times are the key to minimizing the impact of threat incidents when they do occur. Automation technology is increasingly becoming an important piece that ensures systems are tested, configured and works properly to quickly restore systems in the event of a malware attack or other disaster. The global reach and scalability of cloud makes it an ideal environment for enterprise backup; limitless storage for backups, robust security and exceptional reliability meet the demands of modern organizations without the need to constantly patch, upgrade or repair on-premises systems.
DC: How should organizations ensure data protection? What can companies do to protect themselves from security flaws?
MB: With organisations shifting to remote working, it is imperative to learn to work differently. Organizations should first identify the data that is most important and at-risk. The focus should be on meeting the regulatory standards for security and compliance for that data. Once the data is secured and compliant, the next crucial step is to extend the backup safety net. People are bound to commit mistakes in a new environment, systems will fail in unique and unexpected ways, yet they would want to recover data to move forward. In fact, knowing that they have a safety net will enable them to proceed with more confidence. With the complexity of the new environments and lack of expertise, data protection must be fully automated. With teams manually changing core operations on the fly, the safety net needs to always be there.
Data protection should be simple, and cloud has made this possible. SaaS data protection combines the architectural shift to cloud-centric data protection with the move to an on-demand SaaS consumption model. Infrastructure that can be scaled automatically in any region of the world is a need for organisations in the current dynamic environment. They should use SaaS applications for core services and understand their network requirements and configuration.
DC: What are you doing to ensure data security and maintain business resiliency?
MB: To ensure data security and maintain business resiliency, we have enabled our employees to use a VPN connection while working from home. Hence, none of the traffic goes directly on the Internet, keeping data secured. They work on official laptops with the usual set of security tools installed. We also have a central threats detection system which is monitored by the IT team along with a helpdesk which has been in place since pre COVID-19.
From a customer perspective, we are adding new features. This year, Druva expanded coverage of Microsoft365 with support for Sharepoint Online and Teams. The company now supports more than 800 customers protecting Microsoft365 workloads. As enterprises continue to expand their footprint on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Druva customers enjoy increased visibility with capabilities including Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) backup, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) archival and global data management policies. More than 400 companies are now leveraging Druva to protect and manage their AWS-native workloads.
We integrated with FireEye to extend visibility and control over endpoint backup data to monitor, analyze, detect, and respond to data breaches from ransomware, data theft, and insider attacks. Druva also announced beta support for Kubernetes workloads which delivers complete application protection that is accessible by all teams, including the central IT team and DevOps. Offered through Druva Cloud Platform, users can quickly recover, migrate, or clone Kubernetes workloads, alongside existing data center, and cloud workloads from a unified interface.
DC: What is your strategy for India?
MB: We recently announced our accelerated growth in Asia-Pacific and Japan. Our data center workload revenue has grown more than 100 percent in the last 12 months and has helped over 135 leading enterprises, including Adani Wilmar (India), NTT DATA (Japan), McConnell Dowell (Australia), Gold Peak (Hong Kong) and UNIADEX, Ltd. (Japan) successfully navigate their digital transformation initiatives with the industry’s leading cloud data protection platform.
Our strategy remains focused on further accelerating growth through 2020 as the region demands alternatives to aging hardware and software-based legacy solutions. In fact, businesses are now looking to break free from the shackles of the data center and embrace cloud-first approach for rising data protection needs.