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CEO sees Druva backup as cloud management play

Druva strategy includes first helping customers move backup data to the cloud over the short term, then managing it all after it's there a few years down the road.

Data protection vendor Druva started out in 2008 by going where few established vendors wanted to go -- endpoint backup. Nearly a decade later, it is moving rapidly to where all of its competition wants to be -- in the cloud.

The Druva backup portfolio expanded in 2014 when it added the Phoenix SaaS platform built on Amazon Web Services. Phoenix protects enterprise data and complements Druva's InSync endpoint protection. The vendor acquired CloudRanger for data born in the cloud last June after determining CloudRanger was more advanced than the Apollo product Druva was developing internally.

Druva has integrated InSync, Phoenix and CloudRanger into the Druva Cloud Platform, a single platform to protect data in the cloud, in the data center and at the endpoints. We spoke with Druva founder and CEO Jaspreet Singh about upcoming Druva backup products and services, plus how it is expanding with an eye on possibly going public in 2019.

You've expanded well beyond your original endpoint backup, and now protect data in the enterprise and in clouds. What are your early endpoint customers doing now? Have they adopted you for all their data protection, or are they still only using Druva for endpoint backup?

Druva's Jaspreet SinghJaspreet Singh

Jaspreet Singh: Until the past year, only 4% of our customers used all of our products -- data center, endpoint and cloud. At the end of our last financial year in March, 13% were using all our products. We want to get to 25% by the end of this coming year. That doesn't mean 75% are using only InSync. A lot of customers don't want to use InSync; they're protecting their data center only. But as we evolve both platforms, we are offering customers self-service so they can pick and choose what they like and try it themselves without requiring any sales touch. And we will go to single billing so customers can try multiple products and get a single bill.

Do you see all backup data going to the cloud eventually?

Singh: Not really. The only public number we've seen is 30% by the year 2030. But we're better off competing in a smaller fast-growing market with a high level of differentiation than going into a shrinking large market. We've seen announcements from Nutanix and Pure Storage. Nutanix is talking about a cloud DR solution, Pure is talking about backup appliances. We are a break-out company saying 'we take a SaaS approach, we do things differently.' Only a minority of the market will believe in us, but that's OK. We are forward-looking in a very high-growing market.

Give an example of how you're different.

Singh: The customer is asking, 'how can I use cloud more inexpensively?' We have a new architecture called Edge Plus coming this fall. Edge Plus is an architecture moving toward serverless computing. We're experimenting with a time of use plan. If you use backup in off-peak hours, after 6 p.m., you reduce costs by 30%. That's unheard of in our market. That's the beauty of cloud. You can have metered billing.

How many customers are using Druva backup products now?

Singh: Four thousand. The number hasn't changed much in the last six to nine months because we're going up market. Counting CloudRanger, we have 4,500 total customers.

You've been around since 2008 and have $198 million in funding. How close are you to becoming profitable?

Singh: We're investing in growth, and growing very fast. We've raised over $200 million in capital and investing heavily. Our last funding round was $80 million last July. Our business model is different than most. We have a major chunk of annuity coming in from existing customers, so we're not spending heavily on sales and marketing. We'll likely file S-1 next year (to become a public company), and you'll see that we are not burning anything as close to other players in the market.

How fast are you growing headcount?

Singh: We have 610 employees now, and expect to be at 800 at the end of the year.

What's the Druva backup product strategy after adding CloudRanger?

Singh: Over the next two years our focus will be on 'how can we help customers use more of the cloud?' It's a story of workload mobility and using the cloud for data protection and data management. We are developing a SaaS platform for broad data management. Customers are already struggling to learn private cloud, and now they have to learn public cloud for DR and backup. It's a steep learning curve for them. We abstract everything and give them one platform to manage everything end-to-end using our platform in AWS.

What's your longer-term strategy?

Customers are already struggling to learn private cloud, and now they have to learn public cloud for DR and backup. It's a steep learning curve for them.
Jaspreet SinghCEO, Druva

Singh: Beyond two years, we see the market evolving differently. The market will focus on 'how do I manage data that's already in the cloud?' They will have figured out cloud by then, and will create net-new use cases in the cloud. And they want to figure out how to make sure data is not a liability. They'll want data as an asset to leverage. We will have a series of announcements on that late this year or early next year.

How [can we] start to mine information more efficiently and proactively? Most vendors put up basic reporting and say 'we're done.' We think about 'how do you deeply mine information in use cases differently than backup and recovery?' So we'll have cloud backup, and then the cloud data management piece.

Isn't that what Cohesity, Rubrik and others are doing with converged secondary data?

Singh: Yes, and everybody else from Commvault to Veritas have the same story. How do you collapse secondary storage and get more out of it? So from that point of view, yes, we're doing that. But our viewpoint is a little different. Cloud will be different than on prem in that people will augment data architectures a lot better. You buy hardware for one thing, and one thing only. Augmenting it is hard. Cloud is much easier to augment. With Salesforce, a service cloud, sales cloud and marketing cloud are all coming together. There's no precedence for that with hardware.

How closely will you integrate CloudRanger with Phoenix?

Singh: That's a good question and we're still thinking about that. One thing we could do is snapshotting. There could be collaboration between them. With Phoenix, we can take instances and put them in the cloud and CloudRanger does a good job of cross-region DR. There can be an integration point, a handshake, so instead of migrating to the cloud it can go automatically to CloudRanger.

Which public clouds do you support?

Singh: Only AWS. We used to support Azure, but we shut it down. We'll only go back if they show us they have something better than AWS. We look for two things: customer demand or any goodness in their public cloud. We didn't see customer demand.

Are you seeing the cloud-to-cloud backup market picking up yet?

Singh: We have more than 500 paying customers for cloud-to-cloud. That's only from [Druva]. CloudRanger has 500 more. That's 1,000 customers using us for data born in the cloud. Forward-looking customers who started using us for endpoint will avoid going to large data centers that have complexities. They skip that and go to cloud-to-cloud directly.

It depends which part of the journey the customer is on. We want to avoid a fist fight in the largest data centers and innovate along the customer's time frame.

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