AiThority Interview with Mike Palmer, Chief Product Officer at Druva
Tell us about your interaction with smart technologies like AI and Cloud-based Ops platforms.
The use of smart technologies is built on a foundation of clean, curated data that’s easily accessible to inform its outputs. Our goal at Druva is to transform backup data into an asset, making it more open and accessible so customers can streamline governance, improve cyber resiliency and gain critical insights to uncover opportunities and expedite decision making. By centralizing your backups with Druva, enterprises can essentially create a de-facto data lake that is clean, comprehensive and ready for any use case, allowing enterprises to easily leverage this data set for AI or Machine Learning technologies.
We also use technologies like machine learning in our own solutions. For instance, we recently announced the industry’s first intelligent storage tiering system with support across all layers of AWS storage (Amazon S3, Amazon S3 Glacier and Amazon S3 Glacier Deep Archive). Through a combination of Machine Learning and user-defined parameters, we can manage the process end-to-end with automatic tiering, which assesses an enterprise’s data, determines the critical nature of it and how often it needs to be accessed, and automatically places it in hot, warm or cold storage appropriately. This further enables enterprises to realize the promise of Cloud, reduce their on-premise and legacy tape backup infrastructure, and ultimately reduce total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) by up to 50 percent.
How did you start in this space? What galvanized you to start at Druva?
I have been in the storage industry for quite a few years, having led the Cloud and Security Solutions group at Verizon, serving as SVP and General Manager at Seagate, and most recently as CPO at Veritas before joining Druva.
While I come from a storage industry background, what intrigued me about Druva was, and is, the strategy we are pursuing—helping the steady wave of customers adopting the Public Cloud maintain the protections that they enjoyed on-premises, while also taking advantage of the new features and capabilities that having data in the cloud brings. The prevalence of Cloud is inescapable in the decision-making framework of the enterprise. Decisions about how everything from business processes to compliance revolves around Cloud adoption, regardless if you’re a small, mid-market or Fortune 50 company. Druva has the opportunity to redefine data protection and management for Cloud customers while delivering ongoing cost-savings, and as a top-three AWS partner, we can help customers take advantage of the best AWS has to offer. These trends lead to one obvious conclusion: Druva is the future of data management.
How large and experienced is your Product Development team?
Our product organization is incredibly robust, with teams spanning two continents between Pune, India and Sunnyvale, California supporting a range of offerings for endpoint, data center, and Cloud workloads. We are incredibly lucky to have a number of people on the team with multi-year tenures who have a depth of knowledge and expertise in building an outstanding product. Additionally, as Druva continues to rapidly expand its employee base, so too does our product team. We are continuously looking for innovative technologies to bring forward and help make the customer experience that much more exceptional.
How does Druva contribute to a successful digital transformation?
Druva is the first 100 percent cloud-based SaaS solution for data protection and management.
Enterprises are increasingly moving their systems to the Cloud, whether that’s through applications like Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce, or through shared compute and storage resources with companies like AWS and Microsoft. Our model allows us to accelerate customers’ Digital Transformation, helping them break away from legacy hardware and software, and adopt a Cloud-first solution that is in-line with their larger business decisions.
Through the Cloud, enterprises have the flexibility that’s simply not possible with hardware solutions, which require long-term capacity planning, multi-year contracts, and costly infrastructure. As a solution built entirely on AWS, IT teams can easily scale up and down resources on-demand, access the platform from anywhere in the world, manage their data through a single pane of glass and easily leverage new technologies like AI and Machine Learning to draw insights or ensure they’re meeting today’s complex compliance and regulation requirements. And all of this can be done with confidence that your data is safe through a trusted and FedRAMP certified solution.
Tell us more about the current technologies used in Cloud-based IT management and data protection?
When you talk about Cloud-based technologies for data protection, it’s important to first start by clarifying what that means. When we talk about Cloud-based solutions, we think about those that are built on a platform designed entirely in the Cloud. There are others who see “cloud” as anything that has been forklifted to the cloud, but this approach leverages none of the advantages of the cloud and often costs more.
There are a number of technologies that are foundational to delivering a great solution and user experience. We have worked for nearly a decade to build out these capabilities, making it possible for companies to easily transition to the Cloud without losing any of the conveniences and accessibility they have been used to with an on-premises solution. And of course, leveraging the power of AWS to deliver new capabilities never possible on-premises, such as:
- A unified backup, archival and disaster recovery architecture, eliminating the need for redundant systems and consolidating all data through a single, comprehensive index
- Incremental-forever backup to ensure the latest copies are always backed up and ready
- Global, source-side, inline deduplication can decrease data storage needs by up to 30 percent, decreasing bandwidth needs and overall costs by dramatically lowering storage needs
- Unified interface and auto-tiered storage for hot, warm, and cold backups
- One-click failover and failback
- Automated recovery orchestration and runbook execution
Tell us more about your vision into growing revenue opportunities by deploying IT Infrastructure Management.
A successful data management strategy is one of the most lucrative investments a company can make, and we are helping businesses use their data in a meaningful way. By delivering a holistic view into data across the organization, we are transforming backup data into an asset, making it more open and accessible so customers can streamline governance, improve cyber resiliency and gain critical insights to uncover opportunities and expedite decision making. Managing data effectively can lead to better insights that inform a company’s strategy and growth opportunities.
What is the state of AI for IT Management in 2019? How much has it evolved since the time you first started at Druva?
We are in the midst of one of the most impactful technological revolutions of the 21st century. AI is impacting nearly every industry—from manufacturing to energy—and IT is certainly no exception. Enterprises are accumulating more data than ever, and now we are able to make sense of it all with AI. But generating insights requires breaking down data silos to ensure high-quality data is readily available.
I am coming up on my one year anniversary at Druva and it’s safe to say we have made great strides in the use of AI within our product in the last 12 months, not only utilizing it more on the back-end but making it more accessible to our users right within the console. The current state of the technology is leaps and bounds from where it was when I started years ago with Seagate and Veritas, and I’m incredibly excited to see how the technology continues to be refined in the years to come.
Tell us more about your new approach to ending “IT War games”. How does Druva deliver on its promises?
Enterprises are increasingly moving their business operations to the cloud, from development workloads to CRM, Analytics, Security and everything else that keeps operations running day-to-day. IT and outside services will always have a role in keeping organizations going, but this legacy approach that requires multiple vendors to accomplish a single task is not necessary anymore. Our goal is to help businesses streamline the data protection process—it doesn’t need to be complicated or convoluted. I’m not sure I see it necessarily as a “war,” Druva is simply using the next generation of technology to help businesses work smarter and more efficiently.
Where do you see AI/Machine Learning and other smart technologies heading beyond 2020?
The role of data has changed and the hunger for data has exploded in recent years. It has become the most important asset of any organization, and turning that data into actionable insights for a company increasingly requires smart technologies. The sheer volume is overwhelming for an individual or even a group to analyze and curate on their own, without artificial assistance. With the rise of 5G and coming onslaught of data from IoT devices, and the increasing demand to keep data safe and in compliance, technologies like AI, Machine Learning and Business Intelligence will dictate who is able to capitalize on this data and lead a market, and who gets left behind.
Our industry-first intelligent storage tiering is a prime example of this. Leveraging AI and Machine Learning algorithms and using all three levels of AWS storage—S3, Glacier and Glacier Deep Archive—we can proactively move data across multiple tiers without the need for user intervention, saving our users both time and money. They no longer have to worry about manually archiving data that needs to be stored for long-term reporting, like compliance, audit or analytics. With this new approach, all the data, no matter the tier, is always accessible for such needs.
Tell us more about your interactions with Automation and Big Data science. How do they apply to Ransomware, and Data Center Migration Services that you provide?
The number one cause of errors is from human input. It’s expected and understandable, but we now have the power to streamline processes and complete them in a fraction of the time, free of the error and concerns. We are increasingly adding automated features into the Druva platform to help customers make data protection even easier, and you can see it being added across industries. With things like automated orchestration and failback, companies can now rest assured that in times of catastrophic event the system will proceed as necessary and keep operations running normally, without waiting or depending on a single person to make all the right connections.
As cyber threats are becoming increasingly difficult to spot due to growing data volume to sift and analyze and the complexities, cybersecurity experts end up playing catch up with hackers. Humans are no match for Big Data. It’s finding a needle in a haystack. Companies cannot stay defensive while ransomware threats keep growing exponentially, and each threat is more complex to decipher than the earlier one. The only way to fight is to use the power of AI to proactively identify, respond and plan to avoid data loss and maintain business continuity. Druva enables automatic, scheduled backups and provides complete control, configurability, and accessibility to backup content. Intuitive self-service restores of data plus device settings let users get back to work quickly after data loss or switching to a new device.
Thank you, Mike! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Mike Palmer is the Chief Product Officer of Druva. He has built his career developing and delivering solutions for the enterprise. With experiences ranging from the Fortune 500 (Verizon, Seagate) to VC and PE-backed startups (Veritas, Totality, XUMA), Mike has learned how to help companies manage through growth as well as transformation.
His skill set and experience have spanned the gamut of functional roles; as a former CMO, CPO and Engineering executive, Mike has in-depth knowledge of operational and financial practices as well as how to take innovation from idea through market introduction.
Druva is the first and only Cloud-native data management offering – while competitors are moving toward the cloud, most stay vastly tied to traditional hardware-based models and multiyear contracts. Druva offers a unique, cloud-based solution that only charges customers for services used and offers a way to future proof their organization as business increasingly migrates to the cloud.
This unique market positioning has transformed Druva into one of the fastest-growing companies in the market. To date, Druva has raised $328M in venture funding and nearing $100M in annual recurring revenue, with more than 4,000 customers, including Tesla, NASA, PwC, The Salvation Army, Clorox and more. Druva has also been recognized in the Deloitte Fast Technology 500 for three consecutive years.