There is a magic moment associated with the sales process of almost any technology where the individual looking to make an acquisition has an “Aha!” moment, indicating they grasp the value of the technology and how it can help them move their business forward. In this fourth installment of my interview series with Dell Software’s General Manager, Data Protection, Brett Roscoe, we discuss how the virtual standby feature in the Dell DL integrated recovery appliances often leads to this “Aha!”moment.
Jerome: As an analyst I hear a lot about different new technologies in the backup and recovery space, whether it’s virtual server backup, public storage cloud providers, cloud based recovery, and virtual appliances. Yet sometimes it is difficult to tell which new technologies just get a lot of press and which ones do customers really have a high level of interest in? What are you seeing in the field when you talk to people?
Brett: That’s a great question. Cloud is one of those that everybody talks about and, depending on who you are talking to, is something that everybody defines differently.. But there is certainly a high enough degree of interest in being competitive in terms of cost, capabilities and performance to where cloud makes sense in certain situations. I’m especially seeing a lot of smaller companies do a complete SaaS=based model, where they are using the cloud almost entirely for their IT infrastructure. There is a lot of interest there, and there are probably a lot of customers who are just trying to figure out how to make the cloud work.
Additionally, one of the new technologies that we really push in our product set is this idea of virtual standby. This is a real use case scenario versus just talking about technology or where you put your data. Let’s talk about how the technology can benefit you from a use case perspective.
Virtual standby is this idea that I can have a virtual application that is a snapshot of, for example, your Exchange environment. Up to every 5 minutes or so, you can take a snapshot of your Exchange environment, and you can actually stand up any of those snapshots and run it in a VM and point your clients and customers to that application.. In this way, you can have that standby ready to run in the case of a primary Exchange database outage, or a scheduled maintenance, or some incident that would bring your primary site down.
That is not something that people typically think of backup being able to do, but it’s something we are doing today for many companies We talk about how to do that both on site, leveraging your current infrastructure, your Dell data protection infrastructure, or in a cloud, where you can stand up a virtual machine in a cloud and have your Exchange instance that we just talked about running in the cloud and still servicing your customers while you are working on your primary data center. That is a really cool use case where new technology actually does provide a benefit to you the customer.
That’s one area. We talk a lot about that because virtual standby can be more than a recovery tool, it can also be a solution where you can stand up the application and do data mining,data analytics, and all kinds of actions, against that snapshot. It is basically a fully functioning version of your application.
That is one of the features I get really excited about and often talk about with customers. I see a lot of lights go on when we talk about this. Now, all of a sudden, they see this as not just backup and recovery, they see this is as something that provides some much of the functionality that many high availability tools today provide, and does so in a much more cost effective manner.”
Another area that seems to get a lot of traction with our customers is our appliance business. Our DR and DL appliances allow customers to quickly and easily set up and run data protection within their infrastructure. The DR is our target based appliance. You can basically use it as a centralized repository for all of your backup data, no matter which backup software you are using.
It does not have to be Dell’s software. It can be any backup software. It has a high performance deduplication and compression engine. Our high-end system runs up to 22 TB an hour and really provides a highly scalable way for customers to go address all their backup needs in terms of managing that back end infrastructure.
Our DL appliance is an integrated appliance and runs our AppAssure software right on the appliance. When I talked about that virtual standby capability, the DL appliance becomes more than a place where you back up and store your data. It is actually be a virtual standby server for your environment.
Let’s talk about the Exchange example we discussed earlier. We had Exchange running and we have all these Exchange snapshots. I can actually have the DL AppAssure appliance running that virtual Exchange environment. Should I have an outage on my primary Exchange, I can use that backup appliance as my Exchange server. Having a backup appliance provide this option is feature functionality that customers once again do not expect.
Combining our appliance model with some of these leading virtualization recovery tools that we have within the portfolio are places where we see a lot of customers experience a kind of “Aha!” moment, where they now see how this benefits their environment.
Jerome: So when they have this “Aha!” moment, is it “Aha! I want to have another PowerPoint presentation?” Or is it, “Aha! I want to talk with you further about it?” Or is it, “Aha, let’s move forward with this and get a project going?” Can you define the Aha! moment?
Brett: Usually once customers see the benefit — I would say the primary reason customers buy into the Dell portfolio, especially the AppAssure portfolio, is for that virtual standby, for that live recovery capability. When I have that conversation with them, once they understand that value, that ability to really shorten the time between failure and having the application running, they usually want to move forward in some capacity. They ask Dell to help them build an architecture, , or show them a reference architecture, or show them how they can build this in their environment.
For some customers that is as simple as buying a single DL appliance. This is very cost effective. Like I said, 30 minutes to get set up and running in their environment. We see a lot of customers turn very quickly once they understand that value proposition. In fact, the ratios of customers that move from a demonstration of the product to actually buying the product is one of the highest in the company. It is an extremely successful use case, as the technology provides a value proposition that customers clearly understand.
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.