One Hundred Days with EMC Backup

While data protection technology has been my focus for over twenty years now, my tenure as an executive in EMC’s Backup Recovery Systems division is, comparably speaking, more akin to a nanosecond. But with just over a hundred days under my belt, I still feel I have some unique perspectives to contribute—much of which stems from being an outsider to EMC, yet someone who has been immersed in the data protection industry for so long. I’ve always known EMC as a competitor, and I’ve watched it evolve into the world’s largest data protection company. Now, here I am at the helm of its product development teams—and it’s already been a fabulous experience. Not without a few necessary adjustments to my thought processes, but fabulous none the less.

In my short tenure here, one thing I’ve become convinced of is that only EMC is truly positioned to deliver the future of data protection, and part of the reason for that is that it’s such a prominent player in the enterprise storage industry. One of the first eye-openers I encountered upon joining the company is the level of synergy and collaboration that’s in place between the Backup Recovery Systems division and the primary storage divisions. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword in the sense that any major developmental initiatives we undertake have implications we must consider for the primary storage divisions—and vice versa.  Complex? Yes, but it makes for better future products because, if we address all the complexities, it makes life simpler for our customers.

Today, data protection requirements and technologies are changing at a faster pace than ever before and there are more challenges for customers—new challenges that go well beyond just data growth or meeting backup windows. In its day, data deduplication was a disruptive technology that up-ended the backup and recovery industry. It’s amazing to think that was over ten years ago. Today’s problems are much more complex, and require both a more strategic approach to data protection and solutions that are much less mono-dimensional in nature than the last wave of true innovation that deduplication spawned.

We see a proliferation of distributed architectures fragmenting data protection at organizations everywhere you turn—both operationally and in terms of the solutions organizations are applying. Application owners and virtual machine admins are insisting on using native backup utilities and having more control of the data protection process, often at the expense of disenfranchising backup admins and creating multiple siloed infrastructures to manage. Efforts by IT to standardize their organizations on single data protection products, which at face value would seem to streamline things, end up exacerbating the issues associated with protection of distributed architectures. The resulting silos of data protection are expensive, inefficient, unmanageable, and not readily scalable. The plain fact is that you cannot expect to funnel data protection for all these different architectures through a single backup application and expect to be able to sustain a logical and effective data protection process.

Most data protection vendors have reacted to all this by pushing the same point products with new enhancements that are ultimately band-aids, when an entirely different approach is required to solve the problem and create a grounded approach to data protection that can evolve, scale, and accommodate the operational and technical realities that are today’s—and tomorrow’s—data protection requirements.

Earlier, I stated that I believe that only EMC is positioned to deliver the future of data protection. Why? Because creating a new data protection platform and strategy that’s viable for the future takes an incredible amount of work, and only EMC has the assets, the linebacker-like agility, and the intention to make the future of data protection a functional reality. At this juncture our competitors are moving glacially—extending the life of outdated products and approaches for their own benefit—and at the expense of customers’ best interests.  Ultimately, the solution to the overarching data protection challenge lies in highly integrated best-of-breed products combined with an open storage platform that protects all types of data and retains it in native format. My colleague Stephen Manley, our division’s CTO, does an excellent job in framing the attributes of this new infrastructure and strategy in his blog series “The Right Infrastructure is Priceless.”

While I’m still new to EMC, fully understanding the value of EMC’s data protection vision and why a radical change in course is necessary for the data protection industry didn’t take me all that long. Now it’s my job to deliver the next generation of products to complete that vision.

Needless to say … I’m looking forward to my next one hundred days.

About the Author: Deepak Mohan