Today’s enterprises face more challenges in IT than ever before but perhaps nowhere are these challenges more daunting than in backup and recovery. As enterprises have come to expect 24×7 availability of applications with no data loss, the backend infrastructure must adapt to meet these heightened expectations. Today in the first installment of my interview series with Dell Software’s General Manager, Data Protection, Brett Roscoe, we discuss the biggest backup and recovery challenges that enterprises face.
Jerome: Brett, thanks for joining me today. As we have discussed via email in anticipation of this call, there are a lot of good things going on at Dell these days and I am glad you are able to join in person to talk about them. To kick this interview series off, and for the benefit of DCIG’s readers, I’d like you to first talk about yourself, your background, your role within Dell, and the different ways in which you engage current and prospective Dell customers.
Brett: Sure. Thanks for having me. To give you a little background on me, my current job is leading all of the product development planning for the Dell Software data protection portfolio. Prior to that, I was in Dell’s storage organization for many years, functioning as the general manager of the Dell PowerVault and software solutions business, or what we used to call the data management business.
I am a big believer that you have to stay close to the customer and your sales teams to really know what is going on. The environment today is so dynamic. There is so much going on and so much that is changing in IT that staying close to the customer is critical.
To achieve that goal, I do a couple of different things. Number one, I engage with new and existing customers including regular customer meetings with our sales teams to gather feedback and better understand their challenges. Also, I like to work with our sales teams awhere we have either large customers or complex environments. In those cases, maybe they have a unique environment for which they are trying to design a data protection solution that meets their needs. Alternatively, maybe their recovery point and recovery time objectives are unique or challenging.
Also, I try to spend time on the support side. In engagements with some of Dell’s larger customers, especially those that are managed service providers (MSPs), we keep in touch with them quarterly to get their input. During these meetings, I get feedback on how their environment is performing, the types of issues that they are having, and what new features, functions, and capabilities that they will need in the future. For example, MSPs are really big on reporting and making sure their multitenant environments are working correctly, so Dell is taking that feedback to heart to help us prioritize where to go next with our products.
Jerome: You indicated that many customer challenges are as a result of environments becoming more complex, RTOs getting shorter, and them encountering issues they did not even know they had prior to implementation. In that vein, what are some of the biggest challenges that customers face right now going into implementations in their backup and recovery environments?
Brett: The biggest one is the ongoing deluge of data. The ongoing growth of data is making backup windows longer and longer, and admins have to manage it with little to no increase in budget. It’s not necessarily just the growth of data in the environment and the need to manage it that’s so challenging, but the budget and the efficiency that they are trying to manage it with. Everybody is trying to figure out how to find the right balance.
The other part that’s challenging is using so many different tools. Customers are really challenged when it comes to the number of tools they have to use. They may have a backup and recovery tool, a replication tool, and a high availability (HA) tool. Having all of these different tools can become a little bit unwieldy. Often, instead of simplifying things, having all these different vendor tools in place actually makes things more complex, especially if you have to manage different, individual SLAs for each one of them.
The other thing that has becoming really interesting is that backup and recovery has moved from a secondary operation to a mission critical one. I see more and more customers viewing backup and recovery as mission critical than ever before. In other words, they want assurance that their backup and recovery is going to happen without a problem, when and how they need it to happen.
Then there are also customers that use backup more and more for corporate or even legal requirements. They may have some legal or retention requirements stipulating that they can only be down for so many seconds or minutes. Satisfying these requirements is a responsibility that’s starting to fall on the backup and recovery solution.
As part of this, there has also been a major shift in recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) among our customer base. The days of taking my data out of an offsite repository on a tape cartridge, and then taking that tape cartridge, mounting it, recovering the data to a server, and finally making that data available to the IT department or end user via a two or three step process, one that takes hours or sometimes even days, are over. Customers want and need recovery times in minutes, not days or hours.
The last one I’ll talk about is cloud. While cloud is a generic term, more customers want to figure it out and understand the cost advantages that the cloud offers for them and their environment. Customers have a lot of questions and concerns. The idea of just throwing all of their data into the cloud is a very difficult proposition for many of them. Customers are looking for solutions to help them bridge that gap.
In Part II of this interview series, Brett and I will discuss how enterprises need to use next generation backup tools to address these challenges.
In Part III of this interview series, Brett and I will discuss four (4) best practices that companies should be implementing now to align the new capabilities in next gen backup and recovery tools with internal business processes.
In Part IV of this interview series, Brett and I will discuss the main technologies in which customers are currently expressing the most interest.
In Part V of this interview series, Brett and I examine whether or not one backup software product can “do it all” from a backup and recovery perspective.
In Part VI of this interview series, Brett and I discuss Dell’s growing role as a software provider.
In Part VII of this interview series, Brett provides an in-depth explanation of Dell’s data protection portfolio.
In Part VIII of this interview series, Brett and I discuss the trend of vendors bundling different but complementary data protections products together in a single product suite.