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Going places

In last month’s issue we explained how Redstor’s new automated portal makes it easier for MSPs to deploy backup and recovery and archiving solutions. In part two of the article, Chief Product Officer James Griffin tells us about product developments taking the SaaS cloud data management specialist into new market areas

In recent months, Redstor hasn’t just launched a new automated portal; it has also introduced a new partner programme designed to strengthen ties with existing resellers/MSPs and to recruit new partners, which Griffin is hoping to attract with product developments that reflect the changing ways in which data is generated and stored.

“With SMEs, a lot of the stuff that used to be generated on laptops and servers is no longer generated there; it is generated in SaaS applications, which means that partners who were making money in the infrastructure play are seeing that eroding a little. So, strand one for us is to offer more support for new SaaS sources, focusing on the classic categories of finance, HR and CRM where a lot of business data sits. We will start by doing support for Xero, the finance package. We are also looking at Salesforce and Pipedrive. There is a big focus on adding SaaS sources,” he said.

Redstor is adopting a different approach for the enterprise market, which tends to use different apps, apart from obvious horizontal SaaS plays like 365, and is much more of a departmental play.

“In our current business we have generated petabytes of data for protecting workloads that sit on virtual machines, and those virtual machines are going one of three places: they are being retired; they will be retired as the application is refreshed, renewed or rebuilt in containers; or they are being flat-migrated to the cloud,” Griffin said.

“So, in the enterprise, the three key areas for us are: support for Kubernetes on Azure, for partners that are leading the market with cloud modernisation services – that part of the market for data protection is completely under-served now, so there’s real opportunity there; native support for Azure – a lot of the products out there are on-premise versions that are flipped into Azure, whereas ours will be designed to work with things like Site Recovery Manager; and support for VMWare Tanzu, which is their play on containers.”

Malware aware
In addition to specific developments for the SME and enterprise markets, Redstor is developing AI-driven technologies that cut across all market categories, including a malware-aware back-up product due to be launched this year.

“One of the big issues we see is that people typically only keep six months of back-ups. Yet it can take longer than six months to discover you have a malware infection, rendering those backups completely useless when you need them,” said Griffin.

“Our malware detection engine is designed as a first scanner health check for people that run backups today. We will be able to spot malware patterns across the customer base, from completely anonymised files, and tell a customer if they have a piece of malware. We will be able to do that on an ongoing basis, from new ingestions as well, and offer a choice of three actions: 1. to keep the file; 2. to delete it; and 3. to inject a clean version of the file into that backup set. It works at a prototype level and we are now going through the product development cycle to turn it into a commercially available MVP.”

Griffin added: “We want to shift partners and customers from the situation today, where data management really means backup and recovery with some nice dashboards on top, and which it is difficult to get value from on a daily basis – you look at the reports when you have the time and you use recovery when you need it. We are trying to move on this experience, through AI and our reporting capability, to the point where we are able to tell people things about their data that they don’t know and allow them to do things that they can only do because we told them about it, and so get value every day. We think this will be really powerful for partners to take to customers.

“To make that come to life, you have to cover more sources of SaaS; you have to cover the infrastructure sources where the data lives otherwise you are only seeing a very small part of the customer’s data estate. That’s the vision; it’s not going to happen overnight, but that’s the direction we’re going in.”

What, then, are some of the things that Griffin expects to be able to tell customers?

“It might be something very simple, like ‘Do you know you are not backing up 50% of your HR data?’ or a benchmark from anonymised data, like ‘95% of Redstor customers backup this kind of data; do you want to add it to your backup set?’. Or it may be something like ‘This file has names and addresses, personally identifiable information, and it’s outside the EU, so you are at risk’. Or it could be for predictive recovery. We are looking at whether you can train an engine to use things like social media sentiment analysis to pick up when things like Azure start to go wrong. If it can predict there’s going to be an outage, it could spin up the DR environment with the latest cut of the data before the outage happens, almost eliminating RTO.”

Griffin says that he has a list of 30 such concepts and is excited by the pace at which the industry continues to change and innovate, much of it driven by the channel.

“I love working with channel partners because they are really demanding, way more demanding than end users ever are. They keep you on your toes and I hope that continues because Redstor wants to be recognised as a world class business leading the smart data management category and we can’t get there without really passionate partners pushing us.”

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TechnologyReseller: 2021