Q&A with Mike Coney of Unitrends
VSM: We are hearing a lot about Unitrends in the marketplace lately. Why is that?
MC: Unitrends is a leader in scalable and integrated data protection solutions. We’re experiencing triple-digit growth, with close to 3000 customers and 150 employees split between Boston and Columbia, S.C. One of the industry’s “worst-kept” secrets is our work over the last year building a next-generation software-only backup, archiving, instant recovery, and disaster recovery product: Unitrends Enterprise Backup. It is now available in the market and creating quite a buzz. What’s got users excited is that it not only supports both physical and virtual environments in a “scale-out manner,” but also it features a “scale-up, scale-down” user interface that dynamically adjusts to the user environment. Users don’t have to compromise by getting locked into a niche product or sacrificing features for a better user experience.
VSM: What are the top backup challenges facing customers today?
MC: There are a number of them:
- Virtualization will become increasing important as adoption rates increase and companies look to reduce their deployment of physical servers.
- There is a need to have backup solutions work across a broad range of complex environments.
- Data is growing at an accelerated pace.
- IT staffs are shrinking.
- Niche solutions are popping up that can’t address the broader challenges.
Customers now see the benefits of working with a single source for all of their backup options, so that they can reduce the complexity of backup and refocus back on their core business responsibilities.
VSM: What are the implications for backup in an increasingly heterogeneous environment?
MC: What’s driving the marketplace backup heterogeneity? It’s not the old-school thinking about operating systems being the focal point of IT diversity – while operating systems continue to be a real source of heterogeneity, there are other evolving sources as well. At the hypervisor level, Microsoft is leading the charge against the marketplace dominance of VMware with its Windows 2012 Hyper-V implementation; and that doesn’t even begin to discuss XenServer, Xen, KVM, and other hypervisors each of which have unique backup characteristics. At the storage level, SANs and unified storage implementations are coming down-market into smaller businesses at an amazing clip led by EMC with its VNX and VNXe line and NetApp with its FAS2000 series as well as players such as Nexsan. And applications are becoming more powerful, and complex, and are bringing their own specific breed of heterogeneity around backup as customers become more demanding about backup capability. This has some dramatic impacts on data protection in the future.
There is a concept known as the “agile data center.” It’s pretty much how it sounds – it depends upon IT creating an infrastructure that is inherently nimble and responsive which can incorporate cutting-edge advances in software and hardware. In terms of backup, the agile data center means that you either have to be ready to deploy multiple point solutions for new cloud, virtualization, application, data, and system technologies or you have to choose a backup solution which is inherently inclusive of new technologies.
This is not how most backup companies get funded by the venture capital community. Most backup companies are founded in order to go after a single technology niche. Even much larger and successful “expansion stage” venture capital-based backup companies have a tendency to focus on a niche.
But the right solution really boils down to the customer’s particular situation. And that’s where the agile data center concept comes in. You can’t build agility solely based on predicting the future – because no one knows for sure what the future is. But what you can do is build agility based on adaptability, flexibility, and the ability of a backup architecture to be responsive.