Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Data Explosion and Big Data Demand New Strategies for Data Management, Backup and Recovery, Say Experts

Transcript of a sponsored BriefingDirect podcast on how data-recovery products can provide quicker access to data and analysis.

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Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Quest Software.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you're listening to BriefingsDirect.

Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on why businesses need a better approach to their data recovery capabilities. We'll examine how major trends like virtualization, big data, and calls for comprehensive and automated data management, are driving the need for change.

The current landscape for data management, backup, and disaster recovery (DR), too often ignores the transition from physical to virtualized environments and sidesteps the heightened real-time role that data now plays in enterprise.

What's needed are next-generation, integrated, and simplified approaches, the fast backup and recovery that spans all essential corporate data. The solution therefore means bridging legacy and new data, scaling to handle big data, implementing automation and governance, and integrating the functions of backup protection and DR.

The payoffs come in the form of quicker access to needed data and analytics, highly protected data across its lifecycle, ease in DR, and overall improved control and management of key assets, especially by non-specialized IT administrators.

To share insights into why data recovery needs a new approach and how that can be accomplished, we're joined by two experts, first John Maxwell, Vice President of Product Management for Data Protection at Quest Software. Welcome to the show, John. [Disclosure: Quest Software is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

John Maxwell: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Gardner: We're also here with Jerome Wendt, President and Lead Analyst of DCIG, an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Welcome, Jerome.

Jerome Wendt: Thank you, Dana. It's a pleasure to join the call.

Gardner: My first question to you, Jerome. I'm sensing a major shift in how companies view and value their data assets. Is data really a different thing than, say, five years ago in terms of how companies view it and value it?

Wendt: Absolutely. There's no doubt that companies are viewing it much more holistically. It used to be just data that was primarily in structured databases, or even semi-structured format, such as email, was where all the focus was. Clearly, in the last few years, we've seen a huge change, where unstructured data now is the fastest growing part of most enterprises and where even a lot of their intellectual property is stored. So I think there is a huge push to protect and mine that data.

But we're also just seeing more of a push to get to edge devices. We talk a lot about PCs and laptops, and there is more of a push to protect data in that area, but all you have to do is look around and see the growth.

When you go to any tech conference, you see iPads everywhere, and people are storing more data in the cloud. That's going to have an impact on how people and organizations manage their data and what they do with it going forward.

Gardner: John Maxwell, it seems that not that long ago, data was viewed as a byproduct of business. Now, for more and more companies, data is the business, or at least the analytics that they derive from it. Has this been a sea change, from your perspective?

Mission critical

Maxwell: It’s funny that you mention that, because I've been in the storage business for over 15 years. I remember just 10 years ago, when studies would ask people what percentage of their data was mission critical, it was maybe around 10 percent. That aligns with what you're talking about, the shift and the importance of data.

Recent surveys from multiple analyst groups have now shown that people categorize their mission-critical data at 50 percent. That's pretty profound, in that a company is saying half the data that we have, we can't live without, and if we did lose it, we need it back in less than an hour, or maybe in minutes or seconds.

Gardner: So we have a situation where more data is considered important, they need it faster, and they can't do without it. It’s as if our dependency on data has become heightened and ever-increasing. Is that a fair characteristic, Jerome?

Wendt: Absolutely.

Gardner: So given the requirement of having access to data and it being more important all the time, we're also seeing a lot of shifting on the infrastructure side of things. There's much more movement toward virtualization, whole new ways of storage when it comes to trying to reduce the overall cost of that, reducing duplication and that sort of business. How is the shift and the change in infrastructure impacting this simultaneous need for access and criticality? Let's start with you, John.

Maxwell: Well, the biggest change from an infrastructure standpoint has been the impact of virtualization. This year, well over 50 percent of all the server images in the world are virtualized images, which is just phenomenal.

Quest has really been in the forefront of this shift in infrastructure. We have been, for example, backing up virtual machines (VMs) for seven years with our Quest vRanger product. We've seen that evolve from when VMs or virtual infrastructure were used more for test and dev. Today, I've seen studies that show that the shops that are virtualized are running SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, very mission-critical apps.

We have some customers at Quest that are 100 percent virtualized. These are large organizations, not just some mom and pop company. That shift to virtualization has really made companies assess how they manage it, what tools they use, and their approaches. Virtualization has a large impact on storage and how you backup, protect, and restore data.

Gardner: John, it sounds like you're saying that it's an issue of complexity, but from a lot of the folks I speak to, when they get through it at the end of their journey through virtualization, they find that there are a lot of virtuous benefits to be extended across the data lifecycle. Is it the case that this is not all bad news, when it comes to virtualization?

Maxwell: No. Once you implement and have the proper tools in place, your virtual life is going to be a lot easier than your physical one from an IT infrastructure perspective. A lot of people initially moved to virtualization as a cost savings, because they had under-utilization of hardware. But one of the benefits of virtualization is the freedom, the dynamics. You can create a new VM in seconds. But then, of course, that creates things like VM sprawl, the amount of data continues to grow, and the like.

At Quest we've adapted and exploited a lot of the features that exist in virtual environments, but don't exist in physical environments. It’s actually easier to protect and recover virtual environments than it is physical, if you have tools that are exploiting the APIs and the infrastructure that exists in that virtual environment.

Significant benefits

Gardner: Jerome, do you concur that, when you are through the journey, when you are doing this correctly, that a virtualized environment gives you significant benefits when it comes to managing data from a lifecycle perspective?

Wendt: Yes, I do. One of the things I've clearly seen is that it really makes it more of a business enabler. We talk a lot these days about having different silos of data. One application creates data that stays over here. Then, it's backed up separately. Then, another application or another group creates data back over here.

Virtualization not only means consolidation and cost savings, but it also facilitates a more holistic view into the environment and how data is managed. Organizations are finally able to get their arms around the data that they have.

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Before, it was so distributed that they didn't really have a good sense of where it resided or how to even make sense of it. With virtualization, there are initial cost benefits that help bring it altogether, but once it's altogether, they're able to go to the next stage, and it becomes the business enabler at that point.

Gardner: I suppose the key now is to be able to manage, automate, and bring the comprehensive control and governance to this equation, not just the virtualized workloads, but also of course the data that they're creating and bringing back into business processes.

Once it's altogether, they're able to go to the next stage, and it becomes the business enabler at that point.

So what about that? What’s this other trend afoot? How do we move from sprawl to control and make this flip from being a complexity issue to a virtuous adoption and benefits issue? Let's start with you, John.

Maxwell: Over the years, people had very manual processes. For example, when you brought a new application online or added hardware, server, and that type of thing, you asked, "Oops, did we back it up? Are we backing that up?"

One thing that’s interesting in a virtual environment is that the backup software we have at Quest will automatically see when a new VM is created and start backing it up. So it doesn't matter if you have 20 or 200 or 2,000 VMs. We're going to make sure they're protected.

Where it really gets interesting is that you can protect the data a lot smarter than you can in a physical environment. I'll give you an example.

In a VMware environment, there are services that we can use to do a snapshot backup of a VM. In essence, it’s an immediate backup of all the data associated with that machine or those machines. It could be on any generic kind of hardware. You don’t need to have proprietary hardware or more expensive software features of high-end disk arrays. That is a feature that we can exploit built within the hypervisor itself.

Image backup

ven the way that we move data is much more efficient, because we have a process that we pioneered at Quest called "backup once, restore many," where we create what's called image backup. From that image backup I can restore an entire system, individual file, or an application. But I've done that from that one path, that one very effective snapshot-based backup.

If you look at physical environments, there is the concept of doing physical machine backups and file level backups, specific application backups, and for some systems, you even have to employ a hardware-based snapshots, or you actually had to bring the applications down.

So from that perspective, we've gotten much more sophisticated in virtual environments. Again, we're moving data by not impacting the applications themselves and not impacting the VMs. The way we move data is very fast and is very effective.

Gardner: Jerome, when we start to do these sorts of activities, whether we are backing up at very granular level or even thinking about mirroring entire data centers, how does governance, management, and automation come to play here? Is this something that couldn’t have been done in the physical domain?

Wendt: I don’t think it could have been done on the physical domain, at least not very easily. We do these buyer’s guides on a regular basis. So we have a chance to take in-depth looks at all these different backup software products on the market and how they're evolving.

There's much more awareness of what data is included in these data repositories and how they're searched.

One of the things we are really seeing, also to your point, is just a lot more intelligence going into this backup software. They're moving well beyond just “doing backups” any more. There's much more awareness of what data is included in these data repositories and how they're searched.

And also with more integration with platforms like vSphere Center, administrators can centrally manage backups, monitor backup jobs, and do recoveries. One person can do so much more than they could even a few years ago.

And really the expectation of organizations is evolving that they don’t want to necessarily want separate backup admin and system admin anymore. They want one team that manages their virtual infrastructure. That all kind of rolls up to your point where it makes it easy to govern, manage, and execute on corporate objectives.

Gardner: I think it’s important to try to filter how this works than in terms of total cost. If you're adding, as you say, more intelligence to the process, if you don’t have separate administrators for each function, if you are able to provide a workflow approach to your data lifecycle, you have fewer duplications, you're using less total storage, you're able to support the requirements of the applications and so on. Is this really a case, John Maxwell, where we are getting more and paying less?

Maxwell: Absolutely. Just as the cost per gigabyte has gone down over the past decade, the effectiveness of the software and what it can do is way beyond what we had 10 years ago.

Simplified process

Today, in a virtual environment, we can provide a solution that simplifies the process, where one person can ensure that hundreds of VMs are protected. They can literally right-click and restore a VM, a file, a directory, or an application.

One of the focuses we have had at Quest, as I alluded earlier, is that there are a lot of mission-critical apps running on these machines. Jerome talked about email. A lot of people consider email one of their most mission-critical applications. And the person responsible for protecting the environment that Microsoft Exchange is running on, may not be an Exchange administrator, but maybe they're tasked with being able to recover Exchange.

That’s why we've developed technologies that allow you to go out there, and from that one image backup, restore an email conversation or an attachment email from someone’s mailbox. That person doesn’t have to be a guru with Exchange. Our job is to, behind the scenes, figure how to do this and make this available via a couple of mouse-clicks.

Gardner: So we're moving the administration app’s direction up, rather than app by app, server by server. We're really looking at it as the function of what you want to do with that data. That strikes me as a big deal. Is that a whole new thing that we're doing with data, Jerome?

Wendt: Yes, it is. As John was speaking, I was going to comment. I spoke to a Quest customer just a few weeks ago. He clearly had some very specific technical skills, but he's responsible for a lot of things, a lot of different functions -- server admin, storage admin, backup admin.

You have to try to juggle everything, while you're trying to do your job, with backup just being one of those tasks.

I think a lot of individuals can relate to this guy. I know I certainly did, because that was my role for many years, when I was an administrator in the police department. You have to try to juggle everything, while you're trying to do your job, with backup just being one of those tasks.

In his particular case, he was called upon to do a recovery, and, to John’s point, it was an Exchange recovery. He never had any special training in Exchange recovery, but it just happened that he had Quest Software in place. He was able to use its FastRecover product to recover his Microsoft Exchange Server and had it back up and going in a few hours.

What was really amazing, in this particular case, is that he was traveling at the time it happened. So he had to talk to his manager through the process, and was able to get it up and going. Once he had the system up, he was able to log on and get it going fairly quickly.

That just illustrates how much the world has changed and how much backup software and these products have evolved to the point where you need to understand your environment, probably more than you need to understand the product, and just find the right product for your environment. In this case, this individual clearly accomplished that.

Gardner: It sounds like you're moving more to be an architect than a carpenter, right?

Wendt: Exactly.

Gardner: So we understand that management is great and oversight at that higher abstraction is going to get us a lot of benefits. But we mentioned earlier that some folks are at 20 percent virtualization, while others are at 90 percent. Some data is mission-critical, while other doesn't require the same diligence, and that's going to vary from company to company.

Hybrid model

o my question to you, John Maxwell, is how do organizations approach this being in a hybrid sort of a model, between physical and virtual, and recognizing that different apps have different criticality for their data, and that might change. How do we manage the change? How do we get from the old way of doing this into these newer benefits?

Maxwell: Well, there are two points. One, we can't have a bunch of niche tools, one for virtual, one for physical, and the like. That's why, with our vRanger product, which has been the market leader in virtual data protection for the past seven years, we're coming out with physical support in that product in the fall of 2012. Those customers are saying, "I want one product that handles that non-virtualized data."

The second part gets down to what percentage of your data is mission-critical and how complex it is, meaning is it email, or a database, or just a flat file, and then asking if these different types of data have specific service-level agreements (SLAs), and if you have products that can deliver on those SLAs.

That's why at Quest, we're really promoting a holistic approach to data protection that spans replication, continuous data protection, and more traditional backup, but backup mainly based on snapshots.

Then, that can map to the service level, to your business requirements. I just saw some data from an industry analyst that showed the replication software market is basically the same size now as the backup software market. That shows the desire for people to have kind of that real-time failover for some application, and you get that with replication.

We can't have a bunch of niche tools, one for virtual, one for physical, and the like.

When it comes to the example that Jerome gave with that customer, the Quest product that we're using is NetVault FastRecover, which is a continuous data protection product. It backs up everything in real-time. So you can go back to any point in time.

It’s almost like a time machine, when it comes to putting back that mailbox, the SQL database, or Oracle database. Yet, it's masking a lot of the complexity. So the person restoring it may not be a DBA. They're going to be that jack of all trades who's responsible for the storage and maybe backup overall.

Gardner: Jerome, what are you seeing in the field? Are there folks that are saying, "Okay, the value here is so compelling and we have such a mess, we're going to bite the bullet and just go totally virtual in three to sixth months. And, at least for our mission-critical apps, we're going to move them over into this data lifecycle approach for our recovery, backup, and DR?"

Or are you seeing companies that are saying, "Well, this is a five year plan and we're going to do this first and we are going to kind of string it out?" Which of these seems to be in vogue at the moment? What works, a bite the bullet, all or nothing, or the slow crawl-walk-run approach?

Wendt: It really depends on the size of the organization you're talking about. When I talk to small and medium size businesses (SMBs), 500-1,000 employees or fewer, they may have 100 terabyte of storage and may have 200 servers. I see them just biting the bullet. They're doing the three- to six-month approach. Let's make the conversion, do the complete switchover, and go virtual as much as possible.

Few legacy systems

Almost all of them have a few legacy systems. They may be running some application on Windows 2000 Server or some old version of AIX. Who knows what a lot of companies have running in the background? They can't just virtualize everything, but where they can, they get to a 98 percent virtualized environment.

When you start getting to enterprises, I see it a little bit different. It's more of a staged approach, because it just takes more coordination across the enterprise to make it all happen. There are a lot more logistics and planning going on.

I haven’t talked to too many that have taken five years to do it. It's mostly two to maybe four years at the outside range. But the move is to virtualize as much as possible, except for those legacy apps, which for some reason they can't tackle.

Gardner: John Maxwell, for those two classes of user, what does Quest suggest? Is there a path that you have for those who want to do it as rapidly as possible? And then is that metered approach also there in terms of how you support the journey?

Maxwell: It's funny that you mention the difference between SMB and the enterprise. I'm a firm believer that one size doesn’t fit all, which is why we have solutions for specific markets. We have solutions for the SMB along with enterprise solutions, but we do have a lot of commonality between the products. We're even developing for our SMB product a seamless upgrade path to our enterprise-class product.

One size doesn’t fit all, which is why we have solutions for specific markets.

Again, they're different markets, just as Jerome said. We found exactly what he just mentioned, which is the smaller accounts tend to be more homogenous and they tend to virtualize a lot more, whereas in the enterprise they're more heterogeneous and they may have a bigger mix of physical and virtual.

And they may have really more complex systems. That’s where you run into big data and more complex challenges, when it comes to how you can back data up and how you can recover it. And there are also different price points.

So our approach is to have solution specific to the SMB and specific to the enterprise. There is a lot of cross-functionality that exists in the products, but we're very crisp in our positioning, our go-to-market strategy, the price points, and the features, because one of the things you don’t want to do with SMB customers is overwhelm them.

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I meet hundreds of customers a year, and one of our top customers has an exabyte of data. Jerome, I don’t know if you talk to many customers that have exabyte, but I don’t really run into a lot of customers that have an exabyte of data. Their requirements are completely different than our average vRanger customer, who has around five terabytes of data.

We have products that are specific to the market segments, to specification or non-specification of that user, and at the price point. Yet, it's one vendor, one throat to choke, and there are paths for upgrade if you need to.

Gardner: John, in talking with Quest folks, I've heard them refer to a next-generation platform or approach, or a whole greater than the sum of the parts. How do you define next generation when it comes to data recovery in your view of the world?

New benefits

Maxwell: Well, without hyperbole, for us, our next generation is a new platform that we call NetVault Extended Architecture (XA), and this is a way to provide several benefits to our customers.

One is that with NetVault Extended Architecture we now are delivering a single user experience across products. So this gets into SMB-versus-enterprise for a customer that’s using maybe one of our point solutions for application or database recovery, providing that consistent look and feel, consistent approach. We have some customers that use multiple products. So with this, they now have a single pane of glass.

Also, it's important to offer a consistent means for administering and managing the backup and recovery process, because as we've been talking, why should a person have to have multiple skill sets? If you have one view, one console into data protection, that’s going to make your life a lot easier than have to learn a bunch of other types of solutions.

That’s the immediate benefit that I think people see. What NetVault Extended Architecture encompasses under the covers, though, is a really different approach in the industry, which is modularization of a lot of the components to backup and recovery and making them plug and play.

Let me give you an example. With the increase in virtualization a lot of people just equate virtualization with VMware. Well, we've got Hyper-V. We have initiatives from Red Hat. We have Xen, Oracle, and others. Jerome, I'm kind of curious about your views, but just as we saw in the 90s and in the 00s, with people having multiple platforms, whether it's Windows and Linux or Windows and Linux and, as you said, AIX, I believe we are going to start seeing multiple hypervisors.

It's important to offer a consistent means for administering and managing the backup and recovery process

So one of the approaches that NetVault Extended Architecture is going to bring us is a capability to offer a consistent approach to multiple hypervisors, meaning it could be a combination of VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V and maybe even KVM from Red Hat.

But, again, the administrator, the person who is managing the backup and recovery, doesn’t have to know any one of those platforms. That’s all hidden from them. In fact, if they want to restore data from one of those hypervisors, say restore a VMware as VMDK, which is their volume in VMware speak, into what's called a VHD and a Hyper-V, they could do that.

That, to me, is really exciting, because this is exploiting these new platforms and environments and providing tools that simplify the process. But that’s going to be one of the many benefits of our new NetVault Extended Architecture next generation, where we can provide that singular experience for our customer base to have a faster go-to-market, faster time to market, with new solutions, and be able to deliver in a modular approach.

Customers can choose what they need, whether they're an SMB customer, or one of the largest customers that we have with hundreds of petabytes or exabytes of data.

Wendt: I'd like to elaborate on what John just said. I'm really glad to hear that’s where Quest is going, John, I haven’t had a chance to discuss this with you guys, but DCIG has a lot of conversations with managed-service providers, and you'd be surprised, but there are actually very few that are VMware shops. I find the vast majority are actually either Microsoft Hyper-V or using Red Hat Linux as their platform, because they're looking for a cost-effective way to deliver virtualization in their environments.

We've seen this huge growth in replication, and people want to implement disaster recovery plans or business continuity planning. I think this ability to recover across different hypervisors is going to become absolutely critical, maybe not today or tomorrow, but I would say in the new few years. People are going to say, "Okay, now that we've got our environment virtualized, we can recover locally, but how about recovering into the cloud or with a cloud service provider? What options do we have there?"

More choice

If they're using VMware and their provider isn’t, they're almost forced to use VMware or something like this, whereas your platform gives them much more choice for managed service providers that are using platforms other than VMware. It sounds like Quest will really give them the ability to backup VMware hypervisors and then potentially recover into Red Hat or Microsoft Hyper-V at MSPs. So that could be a really exciting development for Quest in that area.

Gardner: So being able to support the complexity and the heterogeneity, whether it's at the application level, the platform level, the VM, and hypervisor level, all of that is part and parcel of extracting data recovery to the manage and architected level.

Do we have any examples, John, of companies that are already doing that? Are you are familiar with organizations -- maybe you can name them -- that are doing just that, managing a heterogeneity issue and coming up with some metrics of success for their data recovery and data management and lifecycle approach, as a result?

Maxwell: I'd like to give you an example of one customer, one of our European customers called CMC Markets. They use our entire NetVault family of products, both the core NetVault Backup product and the NetVault FastRecover product that Jerome mentioned.

They are a company where data is their lifeblood. They're an options trading company. They process tens of thousands of transactions a day. They have a distributed environment. They have their main data center in London, and that’s where their network operations center is. Yet, they have eight offices around the world.

One of the challenges of having remote data and/or big data is whether you can really use traditional backup to do it.

One of the challenges of having remote data and/or big data is whether you can really use traditional backup to do it. And the answer is no. With big data, there's no way that you will have enough time in a day to make that happen. With remote data, you want to put something that’s manual out in that remote office, where you're not going to have IT people.

CMC Markets has come to this approach of move data smarter, versus harder. They've implemented our NetVault FastRecover product, where it’s backed up to disk at their remote sites. Then, the product automatically replicates its backups to the home office in London.

Then, for some of their more mission-critical data in the London data center, databases such as SQL Server and Oracle, they do real-time backup. So they're able to recover the data at any point in time, literally within seconds. We have 17 patents on this product, most of them around a feature we call Flash Restore, that allows you to get an application up and running in less than 30 seconds.

But the real-life example is pretty interesting in that, one of their remote offices is in Tokyo. If you go back to March 11, 2011, when the 9.+ earthquakes happened, the tsunami, they lost power. They had damage to some of their server racks.

Since they were replicating in London and those backups were done locally in Tokyo, they actually got their employees up and running using Terminal Server, which enables the Tokyo employees to connect to the applications that had been recovered in London, because they had copies of those backups. So there was no disruption to their business.

Second problem

nd, as luck will have it, two weeks later, they had a problem at one of the other remote offices, where a server crashed, and then they were able to bring up data remotely. Then, they had another instance, where they had to just recover data. Because it was so quick, end-users didn’t even know that disk drive had crashed.

So I think that's a really neat example of a customer who is exploiting today’s technology. This gets back to the discussion we had earlier about service levels and managing of service levels in the business and making sure there's not a disruption of the business. If you're doing real-time trades in a stock exchange type of environment, you can't suffer any outages, because there's not only the monetary problems, but you don’t want to be in the cover of

Gardner: Of course regulation and compliance issues to consider.

Maxwell: Absolutely.

Gardner: We're getting towards the end of our time. Jerome, quickly, do you have any use cases or examples that you're familiar with that illustrate this concept of next-generation and lifecycle approach to data recovery that we have been discussing?

Wendt: Well, it’s not an example, just a general trend I am seeing in products, because most of DCIG’s focus is just on analyzing the products themselves and comparing, traversing, and identifying general broader trends within those products.

Going forward, the industry is probably going to have to find a better way to refer to these products. Quest is a whole lot more than just running a backup.

There are two things we're seeing. One, we're struggling calling backup software backup software anymore, because it does so much more than that. You mentioned earlier about so much more intelligence in these products. We call it backup software, because that’s the context in which everyone understands it, but I think going forward, the industry is probably going to have to find a better way to refer to these products. Quest is a whole lot more than just running a backup.

And then second, people, as they view backup and how they manage their infrastructure, really have to go from this reactive, "Okay, today I am going to have to troubleshoot 15 backup jobs that failed overnight." Those days are over. And if they're not over, you need to be looking for new products that will get you over that hump, because you should no longer be troubleshooting failed backup jobs.

You should be really looking more toward, how you can make sure all your environment is protected, recoverable, and really moving to the next phase of doing disaster recoveries and business continuity planning. The products are there. They are mature and people should be moving down that path.

Gardner: Jerome, we mentioned at the outset, mobile and the desire to deliver more data and applications to edge devices, and of course cloud was mentioned. People are going to be looking to take advantage of cloud efficiencies internally, but then also look to mixed-sourcing opportunities, hybrid-computing opportunities, different apps from different places, and the data lifecycle and backup that needs to be part and parcel with that.

We also mentioned the fact that big data is more important and that the timeframe of getting mission-critical data to the right people is shortening all the time. This all pulls together, for me, this notion that in the future you're not going to be able to do this any other way. This is not a luxury, but a necessity. Is that fair, Jerome?

Wendt: Yes, it is. That’s a fair assessment.

Crystal ball

Gardner: John, the same question to you basically. When we look into the crystal ball, even not that far out, it just seems that in order to manage what you need to do as a business, getting good control over your data, being able to ensure that it’s going to be available anytime, anywhere, regardless of the circumstances is, again, not a luxury, it’s not a nice to have. It’s really just going to support the viability of the business.

Maxwell: Absolutely. And what’s going to make it even more complex is going to be the cloud, because what's your control, as a business, over data that is hosted some place else?

I know that at Quest we use seven SaaS-based applications from various vendors, but what’s our guarantee that our data is protected there? I can tell you that a lot of these SaaS-based companies or hosting companies may offer an environment that says, "We're always up," or "We have a higher level of availability," but most recovery is based on logical corruption of data.

As I said, with some of these smaller vendors, you wonder about what if they went out of business, because I have heard stories of small service providers closing the doors, and you say, "But my data is there."

So the cloud is really exciting, in that we're looking at how we're going to protect assets that may be off-premise to your environment and how we can ensure that you can recover that data, in case that provider is not available.

Then there's something that Jerome touched upon, which is that the cloud is going to offer so many opportunities, the one that I am most excited about is using the cloud for failover. That really getting beyond recovery into business continuity.

Not only can we recover your data within seconds, but we can get your business back up and running, from an IT perspective, faster than you probably ever presumed that you could.

And something that has only been afforded by the largest enterprises, Global 1000 type customers, is the ability to have a stand up center, a SunGard or someone like that, which is very costly and not within reach of most customers. But with virtualization and with the cloud, there's a concept that I think we're going to see become very mainstream over the next five years, which is failover recovery to the cloud. That's something that’s going to be within reach of even SMB customers, and that’s really more of a business continuity message.

So now we're stepping up even more. We're now saying, "Not only can we recover your data within seconds, but we can get your business back up and running, from an IT perspective, faster than you probably ever presumed that you could."

Gardner: That sounds like a good topic for another day. I am afraid we are going to have to leave it there.

You've been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast discussion on the value around next-generation, integrated and simplified approaches to fast backup and recovery. We have seen how a comprehensive approach to data recovery bridges legacy and new data, scales to handle big data, and provides automation and governance across the essential functions of backup, protection, and disaster recovery.

I'd like to thank our guests. We've been joined by John Maxwell, the Vice President of Product Management for Data Protection at Quest Software. Thanks so much, John.

Maxwell: Thank you.

Gardner: We've also been joined by Jerome Wendt, President and Lead Analyst at DCIG, an independent storage analyst and consulting firm. Thanks so much, Jerome.

Wendt: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks again to you, our audience, for listening, and come back next time.

Get the free data protection and recovery white paper.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Quest Software.

Transcript of a sponsored BriefingDirect podcast on how data-recovery products can provide quicker access to data and analysis. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2012. All rights reserved.

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