Cloud data retention in a multi-cloud world

According to e-ChannelNews, 85 percent of organizations in the U.S. and Canada employ a multi-cloud strategy. I recently had the pleasure of talking to Paolo Del Nibletto about the issues facing IT service providers in a multi-cloud world.

Take a ten-minute coffee break (or kombucha break, if you’re in California), and listen here:

The challenge for many channel companies today is moving the customer’s data from one cloud provider to another. “Support for” multi-cloud is necessary but not sufficient. With retention policies set for as many as ten years, customers really need mobility, and you, their service provider, need the flexibility to give it to them.

The most common example is cost. If a customer finds the cost of their growing cloud data archive painful, you need to find a more cost-effective option. But then you need to orchestrate a potentially massive migration without any downtime or retrievability problems. Another example is a cloud provider with a better match for the customer’s protection or security level.

I hope you find the interview informative. By the way, if you’re an IT service provider here are some of the resources TechnoPlanet/e-ChannelNews offers:

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Transcript: Cloud Data Retention in a Multi-Cloud World

Paolo: Hello and welcome to the e-ChannelNEWS podcast. I’m your host, Paolo Del Nibletto. Over the last few episodes of the e-ChannelNEWS podcast, we have been discussing multi-cloud, and the evidence seems to suggest that at least 85% of organizations in Canada and the U.S. have this type of strategy in place. So what does that mean for the all-in-cloud approach? What will it mean for data protection, and how can the channel make money in this type of situation?

Here to talk about all this is Jonathan Calmes. Jonathan is the Vice President of Business Development at Silicon Beach, not Silicon Valley, Silicon Beach-based startup Aparavi. Aparavi is fairly new to the marketplace, and they’ve just released a SaaS-based multi-cloud product called Active Archive. Please welcome Jonathan.

Jonathan: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Paolo: No worries. Glad you’re on board. So, Jonathan, is it fair to say that you are new to the market but in a fairly crowded space already? How is Aparavi different from the others?

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s interesting. Aparavi’s leadership all comes from, combined, over a 100 years in data protection, storage, and data management. So are we new to the market? Kinda of, with a new solution. From a differentiation standpoint, we’re crowded in a backup marketplace. However, Active Archive, really, for unstructured data specifically, there aren’t a lot of tools addressing this from a pure software as a service standpoint. So our lead feature here is that we are software as a service, not a hardware-based solution, focusing around a tape or a hardware appliance specifically. That is a key differentiator for us.

Paolo: So why focus on the multi-cloud opportunity? What are you seeing in the market that made Aparavi go down this route?

Jonathan: I was VP of sales at a traditional backup company and two years, three years ago we started getting calls saying, “Hey, our backups are broken,” or, “What are we doing about x and x regulation?” etc. And the cloud was always a point of that conversation. And over the last few years, it shifted from, “We need to get our data to the cloud,” to, “We need to have flexibility in the cloud.” More and more organizations are really forced into these hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructures because of the massive amounts of unstructured data growth. So when Aparavi was founding and the solution was being built, we built it from the ground up to be multi-cloud capable. Our vision for cloud is that more and more niche players, groups like Wasabi, for example, are going to be coming into the market, and organizations need to have the freedom to be able to move their data to the most appropriate place over, on average, a decades-long retention policy.

Paolo: I see, I see. So what are some of the details of this solution and some of the new innovations from a multi-cloud perspective that you’re bringing to market?

Jonathan: A lot of providers have looked at multi-cloud. You know, the answer is, “Oh, yeah, we’re multi-cloud…” That means, “We support Google,” or “We support Amazon,” or, “We support S3,” or what have you. We even support your own on-premises “private cloud.” However, the interoperability between those hasn’t existed. So what Aparavi built was a dynamic multi-cloud data retention engine. So we are able to move data between clouds. So how this looks is, let’s say you’re an organization that started with Amazon S3 and you’ve been using Aparavi to move your data to Amazon S3 for the last three or four years, and all of a sudden, a new player comes into the mix that’s cheaper and faster.

We’re able to immediately stop the growth in cloud A while still allowing full recoverability and retrievability of data, while putting all new and changed data files—all way down to the bit or block level—to that new location. So our software seamlessly manages the movement of data between these multiple locations. The same is true when we’re actually going out to retrieve data. We’re able to do so to a specific point in time, and we can leverage any combination of storage to build that file back to that specific point in time, whether that’s Google, Amazon, or maybe it’s even a combination of on-premises locations.

Paolo: Okay. So what about for the channel partners? This technology you’re saying is going to drive the demand for data protection that can cover cloud-based apps and data. So let’s say that all happens, what’s in it for the channel partners? What’s the margin opportunity?

Jonathan: There’s two margin opportunities. One is our basic channel programs, which we’re fully going to be introducing into the market here at the end of Q2. You’ll be able to sign up as a partner and receive benefits based off of our licensing model. But even more importantly, if you’re looking at a lot of the existing vendors, they’re either cloud brokers, where you have to use their own buckets, for example, and you’re not allowed necessarily to create your own locations or use your own locations.

The other thing is if you’re talking about ten years of retention, an existing solution, especially image-based groups, causes massive amounts of data growth. So Aparavi actually built a patented solution that is able to remove data out of cloud locations at the bigger block level the moment that retention policy expires. So we call this feature Cloud Active Data Pruning. This greatly reduces the footprint of storage over time. Our licensing models aren’t based on how much data you’re storing in cloud, they’re based on what is actually being selected to protect. So that helps the end user not pay for duplicate versions of files etc., but on the end where there’s the service provider, they’re gonna going to have huge savings based on what they’re paying for storage, because they’re gonna need a whole lot less of it, and they’re still being able to charge their customers on source data selected, as opposed to what’s in cloud. So a couple of opportunities there to make money for a service provider.

Paolo: Okay, cool. I also wanted to ask you about security threats like ransomware. How does Aparavi address that challenge? And also, what’s the company’s future roadmap look like?

Jonathan: From a ransomware standpoint, one of the things that we actually offer customers is a percent change monitor. So we’re able to send alerts based on how much of your data set is changing, and this is a threshold that the service provider can provide or the end users themselves. But this follows the “if this, then that” style operation where if 80% of my data changes, send me a text message, send me an email, alert me in the platform through our web interface, but also do not do any more pruning jobs, and do not do any retention jobs out in the cloud. And one of the big things that we saw with traditional cloud backup vendors is they would see, “Oh, look, a file changed. This must be new.” And most double ahead and pick it up, move it to cloud, and then overwrite good data with bad ransomware data. So that was something that we entered into the software. That was scoped out in the beginning in conjunction with some large MSPs that had that very problem happen to them.

From a roadmap standpoint with the Aparavi solution, there’s a really neat chart by Enterprise Strategy Group, ESG, called the spectrum of data protection. And on the far right, you have tools like business continuity, failover, really kind of the disaster recovery, entire system images. And then on the far left you have, e-discovery, governance tools, archiving tools. And our mantra in here is moving left. So we believe that the middle of the spectrum is disappearing, which is your traditional backup vendors, and an organization is going to need a combination of business continuity and an active archive. And so our solution is designed to provide accessibility of data all the way down to the content model. We have full functionality in the software today to search by content, to search by classification. And as we move forward, that’s only gonna get more strong.

Paolo: Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for your time, Jonathan. Very, very insightful. Where can people follow you on social media, and where else can they get more information on Aparavi, either online or on social media?

Jonathan: We have an active Twitter account, @aparavisoftware. We’ve also got our website, aparavi.com, where you can connect to us very easily, as well as our LinkedIn page.

Paolo: Fantastic. Well, thanks again for your time, and that’s it for the eChannelNEWS podcast. I’m Paolo Del Nibletto, signing off.

Jonathan: Thanks, Paolo.

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