A “feature rich” product can mean a number of things. It can mean that it is flexible. It can suggest that is offers a good value for the money. It can imply that it can function as a one stop shop for managing your environment. It can also mean that it is too complex and takes too long to learn. In this second part of my interview series with PHD Virtual’s CMO Steve Kahan, he discusses how PHD Virtual introduces new feature functionality into its product without its backup software becoming too complex for users to effectively utilize.
Jerome: How is PHD Virtual able to deliver new features without becoming more complex?
Steve: Obviously the more functionality you build into a product, the more time and care it takes to ensure that it is easy to use. So for PHD, there are several things that help drive ease of use while still ensuring its products are powerful and flexible.
Very good product design and customer interaction helps PHD verify that when it adds new features to the product that those features are intuitive and easy to use.
The big differentiator for PHD is its underlying architecture. It’s this architecture that helps customers get immediate value from PHD Virtual products.
PHD integrates with existing hypervisor management interfaces. In this way users leverage a tool that they already use today to manage their virtual infrastructure to also manage and run backups as well.
Since PHD deploys as a virtual backup appliance (VBA), PHD eliminate any complexity associated with setting up and managing proxy servers or having to worry about installing, managing and patching multiple software products, or specific applications running on top of the operating system. The VBA is just one simple file that users import into their environment.
PHD also offers quicker, easier and more effective scaling. Deploying an additional VBA to handle more workload or setting up a new backup job takes only minutes. As a result, PHD customers can easily manage a large virtual infrastructure.
I truly love one of the quotes I heard from vExpert Arjan Timmerann when he said, “PHD Virtual provides mature, easy to install, and easy use backup and replication software. PHD makes the life of a system administrator much easier.”
This focus is highlighted in PHD’s recent 6.1 release of PHD Virtual Backup where PHD now help users get their virtual machine back in minutes with Rollback Recovery. Instead of a lengthy, full VM restore process, you can simply roll a VM back to an earlier state by restoring only the virtual disk changes over the top of the existing VM resulting in a substantial decrease in RTO for a full VM recovery. In fact, you can see it in action on PHD’s web site.
Part of PHD Virtual’s design concept as it relates to simplicity is an underlying philosophy where PHD believes users should never have to read a manual or take a training class. That is the objective R&D shoots for every single time. So far PHD has been successful.
When PHD works with its customers hand in hand, on a release it learn about the critically important functionality that they actually need. How often do you hear about tools in which over 50% of the functionality in the product is never used?
If you look at some of the big framework vendors, or even some of the bigger vendors in the backup space, they have a lot of functionality that we hear is overkill for SMB or departmental enterprise customers.
They tell us frankly that they will never use it. Unused functionality, such as extra buttons, settings or other steps are often recognized by users as “complexity” because it’s extra stuff that gets in the way of their backup and recovery.
PHD’s user group is active and quite vocal. For example, they told us they wanted a clearly marked function to turn on or off in one step the ability to identify, heal and verify corrupt data that is detected during the backup and recovery process.” And, we delivered.
That is a critical capability that can only be understood by sitting down with users. It is also an example of the way in which PHD Virtual strives to make software products that deliver great value.
In Part I of this interview series, Steve discusses how new tools are needed to backup and manage today’s new virtual infrastructure.
In Part III of this interview series, Steve describes the methods that PHD Virtual uses to identify users who can provide the input and insight that PHD Virtual needs to build its software and then how it continues to interact with them once a relationship is established.