Druva: ‘We are data management-as-a-service’
Druva started out ten years ago building disaster recovery software for the financial sector but by 2013 it had pivoted into building back up software and data management tools purely native to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. This was a strategic move so that any company considering using AWS could also benefit from Druva for its data solutions to and from the platform. Druva (featured in the Deloitte 500) is now among the top three storage partners for AWS, protecting more than 40 PB of data for 4,000 customers globally (including the likes of Lockheed Martin, DHL, Tata and Ikea). As the industry’s fastest growing data protection provider, Druva’s award-winning solutions intelligently collect data; and unify backup, disaster recovery, archival and governance capabilities onto a single, optimized data set.
“The market wasn’t ready for mass cloud adoption a decade ago but has come our way in the last five years and, with the help of funding, we’ve been very successful,” recalls founder and CEO Jaspreet Singh. “As the AWS and cloud traction picks up so does the need for Druva - the industry’s first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications. We leverage the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass enabling data protection, governance and intelligence, dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business-critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it.”
With today’s market featuring software providers such as Commvault, hardware providers like EMC or hyper conversion specialists like Rubrik, Singh saw a gap for Druva as there was no cloud native solution or SaaS tech to deliver a unified service across the globe. “It took us a few years to perfect delivering a service with a predictable service-level agreement (SLA) at a specific price point,” he says. “A combination of innovation and internal engineering was required to make the solution extremely native to AWS. It’s a custom build software service stack which means we take care of security, cost optimisation, DevOps etc. It’s been an interesting journey and as AWS improves there is a customer expectation we must also improve our offering. Every time AWS makes a new announcement for a new storage tier, an improved way of doing machine learning or input/output we are often the Beta partner to be first to market with those new technologies.”
Druva’s partnership with AWS has been leveraged in this way with Snowball Edge. Druva supported its stack to sit inside Snowball Edge from its day of launch when private lanes were announced for the transfer of data between clouds so the company was able to offer this service between VMC, VLS and Amazon. “Now we can support our customers not only in the way the data can be protected, but also how it can be analysed appropriately and the value-driven,” adds Singh.
So what are some of the key benefits Druva’s Data Management-as-a-Service can offer its clients? “There’s a lot of ‘cloud washing’ right now…” counters Singh. “But if you look at the core benefits of cloud, it’s a lot more than technology. It’s a business model built around cost optimization, agility, innovation and time to market. Druva stands for all those things. Given that a platform can replace traditional hardware, software services and management it’s a much lower commitment to TCU (terms and condition of use) compared to the typical workload where you have to buy peak capacity for five years.” Singh adds that when it comes to business agility and innovation Druva is transforming enterprises by adapting to the new cloud native technologies much faster than its customers can do on their own and indeed quicker than any of its competitors. “The third main benefit is our speed to market,” he continues. “Druva is the only solution that can be launched in as little as a week. It can take months for our competitors to deploy a solution like this. The peace of mind we offer across the globe is something our customers can’t get anywhere else.”
As data becomes more fragmented and risks increase - with ransomware, GDPR, back-up/recovery requirements and the locality of data - a centralized way of managing information is required so efficient data management becomes essential. Druva’s alliances with key partners drive that efficiency.
“Our most prominent partnership is with AWS,” highlights Singh, who also notes that Druva is gaining traction with the likes of VMware for its virtualization needs, helping it protect and manage all customer data residing in private infrastructure, public cloud and hybrid virtual environments.
Highly integrated with Amazon there are multiple tiers to Druva’s partnership, enabling it to offer customers the best integrated stack with a solution that can be built through AWS Marketplace and its unified billing model so AWS credits can be used to purchase Druva. “We’re also building further alliances where AWS field reps are compensated for selling Druva,” adds Singh. “We can go to market together and attack the best customer value together.”
Druva has also partnered with Nutanix to offer a comprehensive hybrid cloud solution for backup, archiving and disaster recovery. “Druva provides workload mobility and data protection with seamless hypervisor-level backup to the Druva Cloud for Nutanix NX appliances,” affirms Singh. “As a result, customers get the simplicity and performance of the Nutanix hyperconverged infrastructure platform, with the elastic scale, global reach and cloud economics of Druva Phoenix cloud-native data protection.”
Singh believes alliances like these are vital to keep up with the trends of the market and meet the changing needs of Druva customers. “Our clients want faster and more affordable ways to adopt and adapt to cloud,” he says. “Allied to this is the inherent desire from them to mine data in the cloud and analyse it to drive business value. Now, with data born in the cloud, enterprises want a holistic strategy to manage this new kind of data now out of physical reach.
Druva plans to focus on all three,” pledges Singh. “Today we manage the business continuity and data protection for our customers looking at cloud in terms of secondary data, backup and recovery data, disaster recovery – all to be stored in the cloud, where we also manage SaaS applications for them. We’re also looking at ways to help monetize and capitalize on the data they have stored with governance, compliance and analysis strategies.”
Druva has found success across a diverse range of sectors. Among them, GameStop — an American brand which delivers online and offline gaming services across the globe— is a big AWS customer, with a successful online gaming portal which required a holistic data protection software solution. “They not only needed to protect data at hundreds of different locations across the globe but also the data born in the cloud where the architecture required better AR resiliency,” explains Singh. “Gamestop uses our platform to deploy its software around the world and also in its Amazon account to protect the data born there allowing them to build that holistic approach through Druva protecting and managing its data.”
Elsewhere, Saint-Gobain (a construction materials manufacturer founded in France in 1665) is now one of Druva’s biggest European customers after it adapted to the cloud for the first time. “We have helped them build a centralized backup and disaster recovery practice on AWS public cloud,” says Singh. “They are now procuring software through Marketplace to deploy where appropriate.”
Druva is also working with an Asian oil mining company with rigs and platforms across the world. “They had a unique problem,” recalls Singh. “They had to find a way to support predictive data delivered to their ships across the fleet and return it for processing. To make sure data was not lost they used hardware throughout the fleet to physically return it. But with Druva they were able to automate data processing across their oil rigs to automatically backup to cloud and their data centre for processing where results can be delivered. It was a dramatic change in how they managed their information cutting down their processing time from months to a matter of days.”
Druva’s customers can testify to the strides made in transferring dozens of terabytes of data to the cloud - which can be an insurmountable challenge for companies located where internet bandwidth is at a premium. Steven Hill, senior analyst of storage technologies at 451 Research elaborates: “The new AWS Snowball Edge is designed for moving data at scale, and adds compute capabilities to its hardened, secure system for moving up to 100 TB to the cloud. With AWS Snowball Edge, Druva can offer a new model for data protection that’s tightly integrated with cloud migration capabilities.”
Brian Bagwell, director of IT, North America, at ANDRITZ is excited about the potential of this offering, both for the management of his company’s current global footprint and for future mergers and acquisitions: “Data integrations currently take days or weeks, but this will give us the ability to quickly backup an acquired company’s data and seamlessly incorporate it into our existing storage repository. An on-demand solution from Druva on AWS is a game changer for our approach to data management and data protection.”
With more and more success stories of companies like these transitioning to the cloud, what are Singh’s predictions for the next major milestone in the space? “My view of the market is of a large enterprise segment,” he says. “In the next three years a third of businesses will adopt SaaS, a third will adapt to managing cloud directly (not through SaaS but by pulling their workloads) and the remainder will still manage on-prem. In the mid-market, which is the majority of Europe and the US, I see the split as 50% SaaS, 30% cloud workload and 20% on-prem.”
Singh believes overall the market will transition to the cloud in two ways: moving to SaaS offerings like Druva or managing their own software stack on top of a public cloud. “This will be fuelled by two core trends,” he adds. “In the next two years, all major countries will have privacy laws which will regulate how data is supported and processed within a specified region and who can process it. The level of scrutiny will fuel cloud development because the traditional software stack of colocation and data centre cannot fulfil demand. We’ll see a massive shift to make the cloud inexpensive and more achievable at mid-market through server-less computing with outcome-driven pricing and machine learning which will be the new mobile 2.0. It will make software smarter, cheaper and easier to use.”
Druva hopes to amplify its efforts to make the cloud more accessible while both easier to use and consume. “We want to double down and help our users mine and analyse data sitting the cloud to address the problem of how to utilize data in a much broader way,” asserts Singh. “We’re keen to grow as robustly as we did in 2018 - fuelled by the consumption of cloud we’re the fastest data protection growth company in the world and aim to keep up the pace.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.