Druva – In The Cloud, Of The Cloud, Protecting The Cloud

Disclaimer: I recently attended Tech Field Day 19.  My flights, accommodation and other expenses were paid for by Tech Field Day. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

 

Druva recently presented at Tech Field Day 19. You can see videos of their presentation here, and download my rough notes from here. Here’s a photo of Jaspreet Singh kicking things off.

 

Let’s Talk About You

What do people want in a backup system?

I’ll tell you what we want. What we really, really want. Less Spice Girls ear worms. And a data protection service. It seems simplistic, but it’s true. A lot of organisations are tired of being IT organisations and they just want to consume services from companies that are IT organisations. That’s not a copout. They want to make money doing the things they’re good at. It’s one of the big reasons public cloud has proven so popular. Druva offers a service, and are positioning themselves as being to backups what Salesforce is to CRM. The key selling point is that they can do data protection simpler, faster, cheaper, and safer. And you get the two big benefits of SaaS:

  • There’s nothing to maintain; and
  • New features are made available immediately.

Am I The Ideal Druva Customer?

Are you a good fit though? If you’re running modern / virtualised workloads, Druva want to talk to you. To wit, if you find yourself in one of these categories you should be okay:

  • “Versatilist” Users;
  • Cloud focus or initiative;
  • Hybrid cloud environment;
  • Distributed workloads, including laptops;
  • SaaS adopter (SFDC, O365, G Suite); and
  • Moving away from legacy Unix and apps.

The more distributed your company is – the better Druva looks.

Who’s not a good fit for Druva though? Enterprises that:

  • Must have an on-premises backup system;
  • Have no desire to leverage cloud; and
  • Want a backup system for legacy OS / apps.

Poor enterprises, missing out again.

 

Challenges Solved by Druva

Curtis knows a bit about data protection, and he’s been around for a while now, so he remembers when not everything was peaches and cream in the data protection world. He talked about the various trends in data protection over the years and used the below table as an anchor point. The gist of it is that a solution such as the one Druva has doesn’t have quite as many challenges as the more “traditional” data protection systems we were using through for the last 20 plus years (yes, and longer still, I know).

! $ ? Challenges
$ ? Design, maintain, refresh physical backup server & storage
! $ ? Patch & upgrade backup server OS
! $ ? Patch & upgrade backup server software
! $ ? Manage multiple vendors (server, backup sw, tape, disk)
! Tape can be lost or stolen ???
$ ? Tape requires constant performance tweaking
$ Tape requires offsite vaulting vendor ???
$ Hardware typically bought in advance
$ ? Over-provision compute / storage (growth and variable load)
$ ? Not easy to scale
$ Unexpected / variable costs
$ Massive capital expenditures
! First large backup
! Any large restore

Every vendor can look good when you take tape out of consideration. It has an awful a lot of advantages in terms of capacity and economy, but the execution can often be a real pain. Druva also compete pretty well with the “hyper-converged” backup vendors, although I think they get a bad rap for having a focus on hardware that isn’t necessarily as much of a problem as some people think. The real killer feature for Druva is the cloud-native architecture, and the SaaS story in general.

 

Thoughts and Further Reading

It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of Curtis for years, so when he moved to Druva I was intrigued and wanted to hear more. But Druva isn’t just Curtis. There are a whole bunch of people at the company who know cloud, and data protection, and have managed to put them together into a solution that makes a lot of sense. And I like what I’ve seen thus far. There’s a really good story here, particularly if you’re all in on cloud, and running relatively modern applications. The heritage in endpoint protection has helped them overcome some obstacles that other vendors haven’t had to deal with yet. They’re also willing to admit that not everything is perfect, particularly when it comes to getting that first large backup done. They also believe that “[w]ithin the limits of physics they can scale to meet the needs of most customers”. You’re not going to be able to achieve RPO 0 and RTO 0 with Druva. But that’s what things like replication are for. What they do offer, however, is an RTO of minutes, not hours. A few other things they don’t do include VM live mount and native support for Azure and GCP.

What Druva do do well is understand that customers have requirements that can be satisfied though the use of protection data. They also understand the real operational value (in terms of resiliency and reduced spend) that can be had with SaaS-based offerings. We all talk a tough game when it comes to buying what we think is the absolute best solution to protect our data, and rightly so. A business’s data is (hopefully) one of its most critical assets, and we should do anything we can to protect it. Druva are as dedicated as the next company to that philosophy, but they’ve also realised that the average business is under constant pressure to reduce costs wherever possible. Now you don’t just get to access the benefits of running your applications in the cloud – you can also get the benefit of protecting them in the cloud too.

Tape was hard to do well, and many of us have horror stories about things going wrong. Cloud can be hard to do well too, and there are plenty of stories of cloud going horribly wrong. Druva isn’t magic, but it does help take away a lot of the complexity that’s been frequently attached with protecting cloud-native workloads.

Random Short Take #18

Here are some links to some random news items and other content that I recently found interesting. You might find them interesting too. Episode 18 – buckle up kids! It’s all happening.

  • Cohesity added support for Active Directory protection with version 6.3 of the DataPlatform. Matt covered it pretty comprehensively here.
  • Speaking of Cohesity, Alastair wrote this article on getting started with the Cohesity PowerShell Module.
  • In keeping with the data protection theme (hey, it’s what I’m into), here’s a great article from W. Curtis Preston on SaaS data protection, and what you need to consider to not become another cautionary tale on the Internet. Curtis has written a lot about data protection over the years, and you could do a lot worse than reading what he has to say. And that’s not just because he signed a book for me.
  • Did you ever stop and think just how insecure some of the things that you put your money into are? It’s a little scary. Shell are doing some stuff with Cybera to improve things. Read more about that here.
  • I used to work with Vincent, and he’s a super smart guy. I’ve been at him for years to start blogging, and he’s started to put out some articles. He’s very good at taking complex topics and distilling them down to something that’s easy to understand. Here’s his summary of VMware vRealize Automation configuration.
  • Tom’s take on some recent CloudFlare outages makes for good reading.
  • Google Cloud has announced it’s acquiring Elastifile. That part of the business doesn’t seem to be as brutal as the broader Alphabet group when it comes to acquiring and discarding companies, and I’m hoping that the good folks at Elastifile are looked after. You can read more on that here.
  • A lot of people are getting upset with terms like “disaggregated HCI”. Chris Mellor does a bang up job explaining the differences between the various architectures here. It’s my belief that there’s a place for all of this, and assuming that one architecture will suit every situation is a little naive. But what do I know?

Druva Announces CloudRanger Acquisition

Announcement

Druva recently announced that they’ve acquired CloudRanger. I had the opportunity to catch up with W. Curtis Preston about the news recently and thought I’d cover it briefly here.

 

What’s A CloudRanger?

Here’s the high-level view of the company:

  • Founded in 2016
  • Headquartered in Donegal, Ireland
  • 300+ Global Customers
  • 3x Growth in last 6 months
  • 100% Cloud native ‘as-a-Service’
  • Pay as you go pricing model
  • Biggest client creating 4,000 snapshots per day

 

Why CloudRanger?

Agentless Service

  • API Account IAM access ensures greater customer account security
  • Leverages AWS Quiescing capabilities
  • No account proxies (No additional costs, increased security)
  • No software needed to be updated

Broadest service coverage

  • Amazon EC2, EBS, RDS & RedShift
  • Automated Disaster Recovery (ADR)
  • Server scheduling for Amazon EC2 & RDS
  • SaaS based solution, compared to CPM server based approach
  • Easy to use platform for managing multiple AWS accounts
  • Featured SaaS product in AWS Marketplace available via SaaS contracts

Consumption Based Pricing Model

  • Pay as you go with full insight into data usage for cost predictability

 

A Good Fit

So where does CloudRanger fit in the broader Druva story? You’ll notice in the below picture that Apollo is missing. The main reason for the acquisition, as best I can tell, is that CloudRanger gives Druva the capability they were after with Apollo but in a much shorter timeframe.

[image courtesy of Druva]

 

Thoughts

A lot of customers want a lot of different things from their software vendors, particularly when it comes to data protection. A lot of companies have particular needs, and infrastructure protection is a complicated beast at the best of times. Sometimes it makes sense to try and develop these features for your customers. And sometimes it makes sense to go out and acquire those features. In this case, Druva has realised that CloudRanger gets them to a point in their product development far quicker than they may have gotten to under their own steam. The point of this acquisition isn’t that the good folks at Druva don’t have the chops to deliver what CloudRanger does already, but now they can move on to other platform enhancements. This does assume that the acquisition will go smoothly, but given that this doesn’t appear to be a hostile takeover, I’m assuming that part will go well.

Druva have done a lot of cool stuff recently, and I do like their approach to data protection (management?) that has differentiated itself from some of the more traditional approaches in the marketplace. CloudRanger gives them solid capability with AWS workloads, and I imagine Azure will be on the radar as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out, and what impact it has on some of their competitors in the space.

Druva Is Useful, And Modern

Disclaimer: I recently attended VMworld 2017 – US.  My flights were paid for by ActualTech Media, VMware provided me with a free pass to the conference and various bits of swag, and Tech Field Day picked up my hotel costs. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.

You can view the video of Druva‘s presentation here, and you can download a PDF copy of my rough notes from here.

 

DMaaS

Druva have been around for a while, and I recently had the opportunity to hear from them at a Tech Field Day Extra event. They have combined their Phoenix and inSync products into a single platform, yielding Druva Cloud Platform. This is being positioned as a “Data Management-as-a-Service” offering.

 

Data Management-as-a-Service

Conceptually, it looks a little like this.

[image via Druva]

According to Druva, the solution takes into account all the good stuff, such as:

  • Protection;
  • Governance; and
  • Intelligence.

It works with both:

  • Local data sources (end points, branch offices, and DCs); and
  • Cloud data sources (such as IaaS, Cloud Applications, and PaaS).

The Druva cloud is powered by AWS, and provides, amongst other things:

  • Auto-tiering in the cloud (S3/S3IA/Glacier); and
  • Easy recovery to any location (servers or the cloud).

 

Just Because You Can Put A Cat …

With everything there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. Sometimes you might do something and think that you’re doing it right, but you’re not. Wesley Snipes’s line in White Men Can’t Jump may not be appropriate for this post, but Druva came up with one that is: “A VCR in the cloud doesn’t give you Netflix”. When you’re looking at cloud-based data protection solutions, you need to think carefully about just what’s on offer. Druva have worked through a lot of these requirements and claim their solution:

  • Is fully managed (no need to deploy, manage, support software);
  • Offers predictable lower costs
  • Delivers linear and infinite (!) scalability
  • Provides automatic upgrades and patching; and
  • Offers seamless data services.

I’m a fan of the idea that cloud services can offer a somewhat predictable cost models to customers. One of the biggest concerns faced by the C-level folk I talk to is the variability of cost when it comes to consuming off-premises services. The platform also offers source side global deduplication, with:

  • Application-aware block-level deduplication;
  • Only unique blocks being sent; and
  • Forever incremental and efficient backups.

The advantage of this approach is that, as Druva charge based on “post-globally deduped storage consumed”, chances are you can keep your costs under control.

 

It Feels Proper Cloudy

I know a lot of people who are in the midst of the great cloud migration. A lot of them are only now (!) starting to think about how exactly they’re going to protect all of this data in the cloud. Some of them are taking their existing on-premises solutions and adapting them to deal with hybrid or public cloud workloads. Others are dabbling with various services that are primarily cloud-based. Worse still are the ones assuming that the SaaS provider is somehow magically taking care of their data protection needs. Architecting your apps for multiple geos is a step in the right direction towards availability, but you still need to think about data protection in terms of integrity, not just availability. The impression I got from Druva is that they’ve taken some of the best elements of their on-premises and cloud offerings, sprinkled some decent security in the mix, and come up with a solution that could prove remarkably effective.