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EMC's Guy Churchward talks virtual Data Domain, cloud, ViPR

EMC data protection president Guy Churchward says EMC can deliver Data Domain as a virtual appliance and discusses plans for cloud-to-cloud backup and data protection services inside ViPR.

While the cloud and other factors have slowed storage sales in recent months, EMC's data protection and Data Domain disk backup products keep going strong. EMC this week reported double-digit growth in data protection last quarter in an otherwise flat period for storage revenue.

We spoke with Guy Churchward, president of EMC's data protection and availability division, about modern backup, the cloud, the future of Data Domain and how data protection will integrate with EMC's ViPR software-defined storage.

At EMC World, you compared data protection to the evolution of music media over the years. Can you explain that?

Guy Churchward: I've been racking my brains about first [mainframe], second [distributed computing] and third [cloud/mobility] platforms that EMC talks about and how that all works out. And that didn't make huge sense to me. I've got a couple of customers who are running mainframes and gaining value in third platform applications, so do you see them as first or third platform?

You spend a lot of time chatting with our customers, you know that one size doesn't fit all and not everybody moves through these waves. They do it the same way as music goes, I get all records, then I throw them away, then go all reels, then I throw them away, then I go all tapes and I throw them away, then I go all streaming media.

Today, I deal with people sitting in the mainframe days, they have this huge catalog of rich information of transactional data and they're happy with it. Those are the record deck guys, but the record deck doesn't plug into the rest of the infrastructure, so you have to innovate around that space.

I see [cloud] as a consumption model or a storage tier as opposed to something marvelous like the promised land.
Guy Churchwardpresident of the data protection and availability division, EMC

Then I have people still buying CDs, and that's like the traditional backup space -- NetWorker, Avamar, NetBackup, CommVault -- but it's not the du jour; the du jour is online. But [traditional backup] is still the bulk of the business and we have to innovate around that and make sure that still works. And we have other people who say, "I don't want the high-cost mechanics it takes to maintain best-of-breed technologies inside a data center. So I'm out of the data center and I want somebody else to take on that burden."

What we've been working on the last few years is data protection architecture, basically a 360-degree view. How do you protect people from cold storage up to continuous availability?

What does EMC have to add to cover all these types of data protection?

Churchward: I feel we're good with on-premises, good with virtualization, and good at about two-thirds of hybrid cloud. We have a lot of advanced development work to do with data born in the cloud.

How much of backup do you see eventually going to the cloud?

Churchward: The cloud is a fact of life. It's going to be there, but I see it as a consumption model or a storage tier as opposed to something marvelous like the promised land. The question is how do you embrace it and let your customers use it at the pace they want to?

One of our customers at EMC World said, "One of the challenges I have is I'm not in control of everything. The business owners go out and find applications that suit their business and if I'm not agile enough, then they basically make their own decisions. Now they've gone out and have chosen a SaaS application, so this application is in its own cloud. And then they dump it on me and say, 'There you go, go protect it.'"

Does EMC have any cloud-to-cloud backup or a way to protect data born in the cloud in SaaS apps such as Salesforce or Google Apps?

Churchward: As an [EMC] product, the answer is no today but you'll have to watch this space. We do work with a small company called Spanning. We see that as something interesting moving forward.

The more fascinating piece to me is, how do you allow an enterprise to embrace a many-cloud strategy without feeling they've got sucked in and locked down? Using AWS for cold storage for archiving is one thing; using AWS to say, "I'm out of the data center, and now they manage it," is something completely different. And something like Spanning or cloud-to-cloud backup doesn't fit into that. If a customer says, "I'm going to keep my primary data centers, but all my tertiary data centers are going to go to the cloud," [then] what we're doing around Vplex VE, where you can virtualize the hardware piece, is interesting. But it would be nice if we can do physical to virtual where I have physical on-premises and then use virtual as an extension into my DR data centers.

Will Mozy become a bigger piece of EMC's backup portfolio as more people use the cloud for backup?

Churchward: Mozy is definitely moving upstairs. It was a consumer product when we purchased it. The last year or so we've pushed hard on the architecture to scale it up into midmarket. Email archiving was one area we saw moving off to the cloud, so we put SourceOne email archiving under Mozy.

Some people see the market for pure backup deduplication appliances going away or dwindling. Can you see Data Domain becoming a virtual appliance for deduplication?

Churchward: We've been playing with that internally. It's available to us and we will surface it for customers to take advantage of. It's one of those things that people say we would never do because the appliance business is so lucrative to us. The reality is, I have a very small subset of our [data protection] organization that's hardware-oriented, and the components that go inside Data Domain are not magical things that you can only find on some island just outside Fiji. The software is where all the value is and the appliance is a transfer mechanism, and you bind it and optimize the software for it. But you can get more out of the appliance, and drive it like a crazy horse.

So providing a virtual appliance is great for the cloud and great for virtualization. People will say I've made my decision on the hardware platform I want and I want to put Data Domain together with it. In reality, the management of it and the economics of putting it all together won't make as much sense as an appliance. But if the customer wants to do that, why do I need to stand in the way? We will be heading in that direction. If as a customer I want to get to the position where I have a physical and virtual data center, and I want to mirror the physical data center off-site so I'm out of the data center, then we want to make sure clients have that opportunity.

Another thing we've been planning a lot around is protected storage. Customers say they wish backup would go away. Can we automate it so when you deploy primary storage, essentially it's protected storage? We just completed a project to spin directly from VMAX to Data Domain.

How far along are you in your plans to add data protection to ViPR?

Churchward: We already have Vplex, RecoverPoint and Avamar plugged into ViPR, and ViPR can see Data Domain as a target. But the plan is to turn the components into data protection services living inside of ViPR as a control plane. Engineers are squirreling away on that like crazy.

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