Nigel Tozer | Commvault | IP Expo 2018

Avatar Sam Dynamou | 06/11/2018

Nigel Tozer of Commvault has joined us at IP Expo 2018 to discuss how Commvault is enabling storage systems around compliance especially in the face of GDPR. Hosted by David Terrar and Steve Denby

Nigel: Hello. My name is Nigel Tozer, I’m the solutions marketing director for EMEA at Commvault. Commvault is a backup recovery company, data management governance, those kinds of technologies. We’ve been going through a good period of growth, cloud obviously has changed in everybody’s business. So we’re big into Cloud both infrastructure service and SasS too, both supporting it and we run our own Services as well as software and things like back of appliances to a whole Spectrum around data.

Steve: Very Topical as we were just talking about backing up data when it’s all over this new sort of different hybrid Cloud setups. So what’s new in the world of Commvault and how are you responding to that?

Nigel: Well, we’ve been a cloud-native company for a good number of years now. So everything that you can do on premises with Commvault you can do in any one of the big clouds. We support over 50 different cloud storage vendors, so pretty much whether it’s, you know, the VM’s on-premises, VM’s in the cloud, we do all of the auto-detection and really simplify those backup and recovery challenges for businesses. We make cloud smarter really. 

Steve: So you’ve got sort of that answer for customers who are on that journey. Will you be able to start with them while they’re still on-premise?

Nigel: We convert the VM’s. We’ve got some really neat DG technology. So anything you do on-premises is sent off to the cloud. If you need to recover in the cloud, you can actually convert the VM type point and recovery and that gives us a lot of really powerful use cases. So you’ve got the efficient movement of data in keeping up to date and then you can use the cloud for disaster recovery dev test or for permanent migration.

Steve: So you can go the other way, too. So you’re not feeling cloud is a dead-end and feel trapped.

David: So you can set your DR up between clouds and then use that to migrate based on efficiencies, costs, suitability. So you see part of your mission is helping the customers make those choices.

Nigel: Well, yeah, so I would say there are a couple of things that separate us from all of our competitors. First is the sheer breadth of coverage that we have. So we support all of the major applications, all of the major operating systems. We support something like 15 different VM types of containers that kind of things, and we support something like over 300 different array models for snapshot control. So regardless of what you’ve got on premise. You can take all of that, shift it around into the cloud efficiently and we support, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, Alibaba and a bunch of other service providers that offer that kind of services.

David: You’re the first person to mention our Chinese friends today, that’s interesting.

Nigel: Well I think, you know, we’re a global company and what’s that? It’s not huge here in Europe, for the Middle East and Eastern customers it’s the only game in town. 

David: Tell us a bit more about the range and style of customers that you support?

Nigel: Well, we’re kind of mid-market and up from our customer base, but we cut across all of the key kind of market sectors out. If you look at our customer base. It’s our annual conference next week and we’ve got to know civil engineering, power companies, law firms, finance, healthcare. So, you know, they’ve all got data issues and those data issues are different but they all pretty much relate to maintaining systems availability, data availability and of course governance, and with digital transformation and at our show next week Commvault’s big focus is on picture the possibilities, you know, what can you do with data.

Steve: This is your user conference?

Nigel: Yeah, that’s right in Nashville in the US and it’s a big focus on what our customers are doing with their data and like I said governance has been a big challenge. Of course, those four little letters that keep popping up from May earlier this year. Yeah, but if you’re surprised how the attitude has changed even the US and you look at now, even the US is talking about Federal Privacy Law, South Americas now enacted laws around that so it’s not going to go away. If anything it’s going to get more complex from a global perspective. So going back to the sectors that we work in you’ve got all those people they’ve all got different challenges, but it all relates around governance, using the data keeping it available, making sure the systems are still working. And of course, the modern world has to be cost-efficient. So they all want to do things on subscription-based pricing using the cloud and of course, we do all of those things.

Steve: So those Four little letters that you mentioned earlier, one of the most controversial pieces that came out around that legislation was that whole, right to be forgotten, you know, that causes all sorts of challenges for the poor old IT director when he’s got data at different systems to go back on backups for a long time. So you mentioned some of your customers, they’re obviously worried about that how’s Commvault dealing with, you know, if I need to take a piece of data out of a restore point from months ago.

Nigel: Have you got an hour or 2? So, funnily enough, I’m actually running a session at next week’s Go conference talking about the ins and outs of forgetting people. So that’s one of the big areas.

David: As you say it’s such a big topic.

Nigel: Yeah, I mean, so the first one people get really worried about is backups. Do I have to go and delete data and back up some because it’s not going to be something that’s processed ordinarily then you don’t have to and actually for legislation, your backup becomes a backup for another reason, so if you do forget somebody from the primary store’s databases and structured data areas that you have. You know, something might come up at a court case, some legal thing where you need to get that information back. So having the backup, it’s also a backup for that kind of reasons as well as from an availability perspective. Actually, GDPR is trumped by a lot of other legislation, right? So, you know finance, medical records of that kind of thing all health safety, they’re all superseded to it so you actually almost need to be a lawyer to decide what to forget and then even when there’s no direct legislation, you’re a business you can still decide to retain something to protect yourself from future problems. So the one thing that’s really important to remember is if you do forget somebody it’s only at the point of a recovery that you have to properly have a process to make sure that any data that has been forgotten isn’t getting put back into a place where it can be processed once again.

Steve: Because that’s the cost at the point. They provide instruction that could be huge, absolutely huge. So you’re saying that actually, you don’t need to do anything at that point

Nigel: Exactly, so if you talk to the ICO. They will tell you, you know, you have to have a process to forget somebody if you like. It makes a perfect sense if you think about it, if you tried forgetting every time from every background, that’s a big task.  We can do that in the way that we centralise things. So Commvault would allow you to go do that if you wanted to, but even we say look, why would you do every time when actually it’s only really the recovery that you should be worried about.

David: Have you guys got a stand here today?

Nigel: We’re not here at the show today. We did a show last week and we’ve got our user conference next week and we can’t do everything but it is a busy event. We’ve got some of our partner companies out there, so I’ll be spending some time with them. We’ve got a number of alliances with the likes of HPE, Fujitsu, Microsoft, AWS and of course our friends at Cisco.

David: So is that what you would say makes Commvault different? because you spoke earlier about the fact that you that you cater for all those different environments, the different VM’s and the different public clouds.

Nigel: So what I think separates us is, if you’re a business today and you got some stuff in the cloud. You got some SasS you’ve got a large enterprise that will have half a dozen or even a dozen or more different backup technology spread across all of that. With the governance challenges data growth cost control, it makes it really hard to have all that run efficiently for you. I guess why we’re unique is that we can cover all of those environments and provide you with a single set of policies. Is my data as well protected in the cloud as it is on premises with us? Yes, it is. And you’ve got that single engine control and all of the cost efficiencies that we can bring so and then there are the government’s tools to so you’re covered.

Steve: It thinks cost efficiencies are huge thing aren’t they, think about you but your live data sets are changing. We were talking about IoT earlier on, the digital transformation of the pure quantity of data that is starting to create and some of it’s very valuable.

Nigel: But it’s how do you know what’s what and that’s again one of the biggest challenges that we see our customers facing and all of this data growth if you’re going to build data lakes and all that stuff is really expensive to do and actually that’s another area where we can play a big part. The Commvault backup and archive repository can become a data lake that you can start to mine, do some clever things with search data mapping and even apply AI kind of technologies to that and that saves you. You know, it’s something you have to do anyway, all of a sudden it’s got another value. So it really feeds into that transformation and the cost control the side of things and of course governance.

Steve: There’s some really practical use case scenarios things like that. Years ago I was talking to an organisation that was mapping DNA for a particular health problem. Every DNA they matched was 250 GB’s of data, and they might not need to go back to that for years because when they discover something new about how to solve the problem, they can go looking for some people with blue eyes and no hair and then it will find everyone looks like that, and that all the data knows is going to be sat in a data lake that you’re hopefully compressing.

Nigel: We’re starting to see more, you know, Big Data approaches to different kinds of problems, Life Sciences is one but you see phone companies all sorts using it and others for security and what they value, what they get from the big data or the Hadoop or whatever technologies they use. They learn more about the data, but they can’t keep everything. So then if you have to go back to something that’s been archived off just so you’ve got the space to carry on it’s really painful to do that. And we’ve got some really unique solutions that can help even manage that. So you can actually look at your big data repository inside Commvault without having to recover it. So that kind of things can really be a big advantage.

David: Is there any of the emerging technologies like IoT, Blockchain or AI that is causing you more of a headache to actually integrate them into your solutions?

Nigel: I would say, I mean, it’s causing our customers problems because of data growth but we can help with that broader data growth. So I would say not us as a business and you know, we’ve even built things like AI into our own technology stack. So if you’ve got an Enterprise spread across multiple Cloud sites, you know hundreds of thousands of applications that took to protect all that and get to the recovery Readiness that you want is something that’s really difficult to do and we can use AI to not only provide your readiness report that can give you that traffic light, you know across the whole area. But if you’ve got some reds or amber’s showing up on there you can use AI to re-jig the schedules with your existing infrastructure to be smarter about how that’s done to turn all that readiness report green again. Sometimes there’s an investment needed or whatever so you can’t do that and it’ll warn you about that too, so it’s really interesting things going on.

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