With Veeam experiencing some impressive growth, Intelligent CIO talks to Claude Schuck, Regional Manager for the Middle East at Veeam, about how the company helps enterprises protect their data and cope in the event of a disaster as well as the exciting potential of self-learning data.
Last year Veeam added 48,000 new customers. This is an average of 4,000 new customers each month.
Strong customer momentum and growth outpacing the industry average underlines the increasing demand for Veeam Intelligent Data Management solutions in businesses of all sizes across the globe.
With customers looking to manage their data in a way that unlocks its potential to drive business transformation, the company has been empowering enterprises to do more with their data backups, providing new ways for organisations to generate value from their data, while solving other business opportunities.
With Veeam solidifying its position as the dominant leader in Intelligent Data Management and establishing itself as one of the largest private software companies in the world, Intelligent CIO spoke to Claude Schuck, Regional Manager for the Middle East.
Can you tell me about the background of Veeam? Didn’t it start off as a virtualisation company in the mid-market?
I think the first couple of years we had just three products and obviously we become commercially viable after that. Backup for VM Ware specific workloads was its key. That was the horse that the company backed and it seemed to work at the time. Obviously, with the growth of the virtualisation industry. The company has come a long way in terms of the portfolio of products that we offer now. In the last three or four years there has been a big focus around enterprise per se and looking after their workloads.
Big organisations, i.e enterprises, have got legacy workloads that need to be protected and ensure that they are able to recover those workloads. We are prevalent across all industries.
How does the company look at data management overall?
We have a view that data lives everywhere all the time. We have a firm belief that every business is a software business and we need to ensure that we help you protect your business.
There are five stages that we’ve defined around data management.
The first one is the backup stage. This is the early stage of where data lives when you back it up. There is a requirement to protect all workloads using backups, complemented by snapshots and replication where appropriate, to ensure they are always recoverable and available in the event of outages, attack, loss or theft.
The next one is the visibility of that data so now with the prevalence of cloud and organisations growing and data growing, having visibility of where that workload is sitting is important. It is critical to view the full breadth of your data, accompanied by the infrastructure that it passes through and resides on, so that you can pivot from reactive to proactive management for better business decisions
We are a firm believer in stage three – the activation of the data. How can we help you utilise that data better? We have something called Data Labs which will spin the workload up into a separate environment and give people access to that data very quickly to make informed decisions, or recover a single file or complete application.
Stage four is orchestration. Being able to understand how your business continuity fits into your data plan. Helping you automate that is very important. If you do have a disaster what method of orchestration are you going to use? So you can extract and get up and running very quickly.
And the last step is automation which I think is a little bit futuristic is self-learning data. Where is the data going to reside? Should it be off-site? Should it be on-site? How do I protect myself? I think this is the last cycle of data certainly that Veeam has looked at.
How far off are we from that last step?
We’ve got a methodology that will make you 100% safe and secure every single time. Malware and ransomware are really just viruses and we have been living with them for many different years. In the past we would have about one a month and you would get a patch from your anti-virus provider. The challenge now is that these viruses are a lot more prevalent and malicious.
Can you ever protect 100% against them?
We have a methodology which means, you won’t be immune, but you should be able to recover from any sort of disaster.
This is the three, two, one, one rule. So three copies of data, at least two different medias, in terms of having one on disc, one in cloud, one wherever, and generally off site and one that is disconnected from any cloud or infrastructure.
If you follow those principles at any point in time you can go back and you are able to recover. You might have a bit of data loss for one day or whatever.
We have a feature now that when we rehydrate and restore data we isolate it and we have it security checked before we bring it up, so we can see whether that malware or ransomware hit already and we can make sure we don’t bring it live into any environment.
I think the automation process has a bit to go but I think it’s something that we are definitely heading towards.
How many customers have Veeam got in the Middle East?
We have almost 5,000 customers in the Middle East. If we take a look at the latest IDC results what’s notable is in Saudi Arabia we are number one across all environments. Generally across the Middle East we are either one or two.
If I was a CIO and I was looking to move fairly quickly into a new market how can Veeam help me do that?
Traditionally you would go to a legacy backup recovery vendor. They would charge you a price and then charge you as you grew in terms of data so it’s not predictable in terms of your cost. When you have a new business you like to cost correctly so you can enter the market very quickly. You can control your costs and you can grow.
We’ve got flexible models in terms of subscription and license-based models. So if you start a business today and you’ve got a couple of physical servers and some virtual environments generally what happens is you buy perpetual licenses for a year or two or three years. If the company develops and you might think about moving workloads into the cloud but you need to protect them still and make sure they are recovered quickly, we give you the flexibility to buy licenses that equate to points.
You can use points to buy any product and move that workload or license across any platform so we don’t tie you into anything and your business can grow and shrink whilst you are protected and moving workloads around. That’s a comfort for CIOs looking to start something with a predictable cost. It means you can grow and shrink as you need to.
Are enterprises in the Middle East feeling more comfortable about the use of cloud?
If you have a look at the big players AWS is putting up bricks and mortar in Bahrain, Microsoft is putting up bricks and mortar in Abu Dhabi. I think with the feel that the data resides within the borders, within the GCC, within the Middle East is going to be a big enabler. The interest and the comfort is there. People are having the discussions, people are testing it, people are moving those workloads into those environments. I think within the next two to three years you will see a massive growth in this area.
Do we tend to forget about the impact of outages having an effect on factors such as staff morale, customer loyalty and business reputation?
The challenge here is it’s (the damage to business reputation) is not measurable from day one.
But over time consumers will exercise their options and it might be over one week, or one month. I know specifically in South Africa the big banks have had quite a few outages and I know customers won’t move their assets or money over night but they make a conscious decision to say ‘this level of availability is not acceptable I’m going to move’. So the damage to the brand is measureable over time.
For organisations that have an outage, the first thing I would do is I would reach out to every single customer and offer them something of comfort. In the digital age it is very easy to forget that you’re not just dealing with an application on somebody’s phone. At the end of that there is a human being, who has got an opinion and feelings and too often in the data world we tend to think we operate with applications but at the end of everything is a human being. We tend to forget that but it’s very important in terms of brand reputation and keeping that consistent.
You get those customers who are quite vocal about it. In the Middle East people aren’t very vocal about it because it’s not the done thing but generally on social media around the world they are very vocal and they will move quite quickly.
Is it true that strategies data availability may seem adequate until they are tested and fail?
With Veeam we look at your DR plan, or your orchestration plan, and we automate that for you. We scan and look in your environment and we help you build a plan that you can test that every single day, every single week in a semi-live environment. We simulate failures and the software then builds your DR plan for you and you know that when you present that plan to auditors it was tested last week and you can feel quite comfortable that if you have an outage there is a way you can recover quite quickly.