Cloud data backup caution is advised by CA's Don Kleinschnitz

A former Symantec official hired last month to take charge of CA's backup strategies is more cautious than many competitors when it comes to moving users to cloud data backup.

Don Kleinschnitz became the senior vice president of engineering at CA Inc. last month, and has been charged with leading a new product development team overseeing strategy, design and launch of new data recovery management products.

Kleinschnitz previously held a product development position within CA rival Symantec Corp., and before that he held positions with StorageTek and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. Kleinschnitz said CA is gung-ho about supporting server virtualization backups, having recently released day one support for VMware Inc.'s vSphere 4.

But when it comes to cloud data backup, another hot technology topic, Kleinschnitz said he believes customers are looking for a gradual, lengthier transition than many of his competitors anticipate.

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NetGear offers cloud backup connection to SMBs What is on your docket as far as cloud integration going forward? How does your focus on server virtualization tie into that?

Kleinschnitz: Big subject. I've been watching this evolve over the last five to eight years. Virtualization creates an independence between the hardware and the infrastructure, and I think the cloud is the next step to that. There'll be physical and virtual parts of the cloud, but what's more important are the benefits the cloud's going to bring to customers, which are a continuation of benefits we're seeing with virtualization, where the physical and logical environments become separate. To some degree, I like to look at it as the infrastructure being managed by IT professionals without significant up-front investment. As we migrate forward, things like simple backup, application continuity and eventually just directly having the ability to save information online is really going to improve our customers' ability to protect data overall. On the data backup front, what are CA's plans to integrate with the cloud?

Kleinschnitz: I think our approach is going to be a little bit different. We're not advising people to just go to the cloud. I don't think that's the way it's going to happen -- it never does in this industry. We're going to start providing options to what I'd call conduits to the cloud, so that our customers can start to choose what kind of data services they want to use in the cloud. It may start out with simply vaulting a tape into the cloud, and then it might move on to full levels of backup, block-level snapshots and applications built off of snapshots, eventually saved directly into the cloud. What we're interested in now is building the conduits from our current customer base and technology into various cloud technologies.

We're not advising people to just go to the cloud. I don't think that's the way it's going to happen -- it never does in this industry.
Don Kleinschnitz,
senior vice president of engineeringCA
If you're creating tapes and rotating tapes through a trucking service of some sort, we would provide a service that works just like that, with the only difference being that the truck doesn't come and instead the data is sent into the cloud. The customer is still managing tapes -- the rotation is handled through the same interface, but where it's physically located is in the cloud. Then you start advancing one step at a time and start moving toward backing up and making copies on a volume basis. What kind of timeframe to you envision for that virtual tape integration?

Kleinschnitz: The whole cloud transition the industry is talking about, I think the fastest is in the two- to three-year and the longest is in the five-year timeframe. We're already starting to do planning around this, so the next year to two year timeframe for sure it'll be clear what our plan is for providing our customers cloud access. There are other vendors already shipping cloud integration today. How do you plan to stay competitive?

Kleinschnitz: My experience has been that the best way to help customers shift into new technologies is not to present a black-and-white situation. What we're focused on is, as we move people into other technologies, we want to use those technologies to make their backups more efficient and help them gain advantages in the new environment. It's kind of a combination between, how do we keep the environment changing at a reasonable rate without it being too fast and gaining efficiency advantages? I think we will differentiate ourselves in terms of how we help our customers make that transition and the efficiencies they're going to have at the end of the cycle. I can hear a competitor as you're saying this responding, 'Of course he says the transition is going to be slow, because CA doesn't have its cloud integration ready yet.' How would you respond to that?

Kleinschnitz: I think I'd just say to look at who's succeeding and not. It's not obvious that anyone taking an all-or-nothing approach to this is succeeding. There is work to do -- I've watched people just ignore the front-end channels of distribution, and I think that's a huge mistake. How does the channel factor into this?

Kleinschnitz: We have to have front end systems for our partners that are different from how they are today, and some partners might have change their value proposition. But to just eliminate them -- that's not how people make purchases today and not how we're successful today, so I don't think that just turning the switch off is the right answer. What other technologies will come into play for cloud data backup?

Kleinschnitz: Important elements to pay attention to are volume-level snapshots and imaging. It's going to play a very important part in the cloud. There's also kind of a contention between the amount of data that you have to move and the pipes you have to move them, and I think that's where data deduplication is very important to pay attention to.

We have to get our hands around the right technology for identity management and secure access, as well as data management. There are services that have user's data all over the cloud already and no way to centrally manage it -- we have to provide the ability to access and manage information from a central point. In a way, it's not a new story, it's just in a different place.

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