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Simplifying Backup as a Service with Clumio – Futurum Tech Podcast Interview Series
by Daniel Newman | April 29, 2020

On this episode of the Futurum Tech Podcast – Interview Series host Daniel Newman welcomes Chadd Kenney, Vice President and Chief Technologist at Clumio to discuss cloud and data storage, Backup as a Service, and the latest happenings in the company.

Making Backup as a Service Simple

Cloud solutions are mission-critical for the enterprise these days, but nobody really likes to manage these complex systems. Most enterprises have data spread across public and private clouds and SaaS solutions. Ensuring that all data — everywhere — is backed up properly can be a headache.

When we think of backups we probably think of the simple solutions for a single user like an automatic iCloud backup where you don’t have to think about it. That’s not the case for the enterprise. It’s not friendly. It’s not a modern architecture. It’s tapes and storage arrays. It’s on-prem. Adding in more SaaS applications only makes the data dispersion more and more complicated.

Companies need a quick easy way to have consistent data protection. The old storage solutions need to be more agile which is what Clumio set out to do. Their Backup as a Service offering has a low barrier to entry meaning companies can start backing up almost immediately

Building For Cloud, In Cloud

Old storage models are the antithesis of agile IT. Companies have legacy storage solutions and giant data centers with racks and racks of servers that took weeks and months to get up and running. Clumio makes it easier for the end consumer by allowing them to really leverage the agility and scalability of the cloud.

In order to get true leverage from the public cloud, you actually have to build it on a lot of the
native componentry because it’s built for agility, scalability and it enables you to build platforms that take the efficiencies of the cloud into the platform.

Clumio is integrating this agility early on in the platform so when it moves operations, enterprises have a consistent way of applying data protection — no matter where the data is.

Clumio’s Key Differentiators

You used to be able to copy data from one rack to another rack, or from one site to another site, and it didn’t matter. There was no additional cost, it was all one big capital purchase. But if you try to do that now, you get hit with hidden charges and fees that make it difficult to operate.

Clumio’s architecture allows data to be backed up in the cloud that it was created in. They’ve increased parallelism, decreased overall aggregate costs, enabled user experiences that were much more scalable without having to do any thinking whatsoever which is especially helpful as data gets more dispersed across SaaS and even PaaS solutions.

Clumio’s Exciting Future

Clumio started with backing up private cloud with virtualization. They also do VMware cloud running in AWS and a few months ago added the ability to do elastic block storage which is in AWS as well. This covers most of public and private cloud storage.

To continue the momentum, Clumio is building its first SaaS service with Office 365 enabling customers to be able to provide consistency across all these use cases. Now customers can have uniform policies that can be applied across your private cloud, your public cloud assets, and even SaaS based solutions with Office 365. The best thing is zero customers will have to do a software upgrade to add this new innovation to their platform.

If you’d like to learn more about Clumio, its offerings, or the exciting new announcements check out the website and make sure you listen to the full episode below. While you’re at it, be sure to hit subscribe so you never miss a great conversation on the Futurum Tech Podcast.

Transcript:

Daniel Newman: Welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast Interview Series. I’m Daniel Newman, your host, Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. I’m joined today by Chadd Kenney, Chief Technologist at Clumio.

Chadd, welcome to the Futurum Tech Podcast.

Chadd Kenney: Awesome. Thanks so much for having me.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I’m excited to have you here today. On the Futurum Tech Podcast Interview Series, we talk to executives and leaders of some of the fastest growing and world’s largest technology companies. We like to talk about innovation, technology, transformation, new products, services, launches.

Today, we’re going to do a little bit of all those things, but to set a little bit of context, it is the end of March, 2020. And I point this out only because in a typical world, I’d be on planes 46, 47 weeks a year, flying around the world at different events, probably sitting face to face doing this interview with Chadd, but we’re in the middle of one of the most interesting and unprecedented times in our history. And I point that out because listen, people might be downloading this podcast fresh when it comes out, people might be downloading this podcast six months after it’s come out. But I want everyone to understand that we’re in these interesting times, and so our conversation might reference this goings on of what’s happening in the world. And it’s just causing a little bit of change for all of us out there.

So Chadd, I guess first and foremost before we dig into some of the questions I have and catch up with you on what’s going on at Clumio, how are you doing? All safe, well and straddled in at home, sheltered in place?

Chadd Kenney: Yeah. It’s definitely a weird time. But, things have actually been pretty good. I get to spend more time with the family, I’d say my productivity has gone up substantially because I have nothing else to do but work and hang out with family. But, I’m optimistic about how things are going, and I’m hoping everyone’s obviously safe out there with the shelter in place, and most of the counties here or all inside of California at this point. But, it’s been good so far.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think for all of us out there, some people are anxious, some people are struggling. I’ll tell you my secret, taking a shower. There’s a million things out there on remote work right now and everybody is like, “This is what you need to do.” And I laugh, and I’m like, no, that might be what you need to do, but everybody’s got their own thing. But the one thing we are all learning right now is, for everyone figuring out what their routine is, I did figure out getting up, getting dressed, because I’ve worked remote forever, but like I said, 47 weeks a year, Chadd, I’d get on an airplane, I’d fly somewhere. So when I was working from home, it was just one day a week, so I was the sweatpants guy.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: If I was going to be going on a TV show or something, I might throw a dress shirt on. But, I was business on top, sweats on the bottom. But I did figure out, now that fourth week in a row, five days a week, I’m setting my alarm, I’m getting up, I’m exercising, I’m taking a shower, I’m getting dressed and I’m treating this thing like a job, Chadd.

Chadd Kenney: I’m very much in the same boat. I find that I’m actually able to keep to a solid routine, partially because it’s forced, but I feel like I’ve been healthier in this stay at home than I have been probably in many years of traveling quite a bit as well. So it’s been working out for me, so far at least.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. It’s something about just getting in that groove, you just get a lot more done, and getting things done is super important. And thank God for SaaS, thank God for Software as a Service. So many companies… Big enterprises may have been flexible to be able to quickly deploy remote work, although I’ve talked to a lot of them Chadd, and a lot of them we’re not ready for this.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: But in the grand scheme of things, so many companies, mine included, are really just benefiting hugely from everything from HR, CRM, ERP and collaboration tools like we’re using right here, being in the cloud. And of course, another thing, storage and backup being in the cloud, which is something I think that is near and dear to your heart.

Chadd Kenney: Definitely.

Daniel Newman: So I’m dumping that over to try to lead you into this next part of our conversation. First and foremost though, talk to me a little bit about Clumio, who you are and what you do for everyone out there. We had a great opportunity to have your CEO, Poojan Kumar, on another sister podcast, The Six Five. But Chadd, joining here, Clumio is not a household name yet, but should be in the next coming months or years. So, tell me about it. Give everybody the background.

Chadd Kenney: Awesome. So Clumio is an enterprise backup as a service solution that goes across public, private and SaaS based solutions. We had this whole thesis that backup was ridiculously complex. Nobody really likes to manage these types of solutions, although they’re mission critical for every enterprise out there. And really, abstracting away the complexity and providing it as a service was a thing we thought should’ve happened a long time ago.

But the interesting part to this is that, it’s not easy, right? You couldn’t take an existing product and just throw it up into the cloud and assume that you were going to get the same cost models or less so or whenever else. We had to really start from the cloud up and build a platform that would drive value to our customers, especially in the enterprise, who has data dispersed all over the place.

And that was the core thesis of the platform. Let’s build a data platform that goes across clouds and we could provide various different services on top of it, first of which is a backup as a service offering.

Daniel Newman: Very cool. And here’s your moment to brag, free for all on the Futurum Tech Podcast here. How’s the company doing? What kind of progress is it making?

Chadd Kenney: I was at Pure before and I saw substantial growth in the past. I think what’s really cool about this is just how fast people can take this on. So, back in the day we used to, “Hey, you could install an array or a thing in our data center in a week, and it would be so simple.” We are literally on sales calls and people are already starting to back up their environment as a test. And so, I’d say that the entry is ridiculously simple for people to get on the platform, and so the growth model has been taking off at a level that I don’t think that we expected. And a lot of this is, we had great investors early on and had a lot of fuel to be able to innovate quickly, bring new values to enterprises and really be able to drive newer and newer innovations on a consistent basis, versus having to wait the long durations to get new innovations out to market.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. I remember when I first met with Poojan and the team, and they were telling me a little bit about what they were doing. Backup for us personally, it’s the way we think about using, whether it’s iCloud or using even a simple backup service that you might use for yourself. And then, it progressed so quickly for the consumer, but in the enterprise, the progression was awful. It was brutal. It’s tapes, it’s storage arrays, it’s on prime, it’s not cloud, it’s not friendly, it’s not modern fabric and architecture. And why it sat there for so long, and I guess you kind of appreciate that, I know where you came from and where you are now, that that was a really big opportunity.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah. And if you look at it, it’s not only not progressed all that much. It got a little simpler, there’s some people, appliance eyes thing, and made parts and pieces be simpler. But if you look at the enterprise, think about the nightmare of data dispersion that’s going on, which just makes this problem, that was already pretty challenging just in one environment, your private cloud, to now become even more problematic as you start using more and more SaaS solutions. You have multiple different public clouds, and now data exists all over the place, more and more security concerns exists left and right. So, finding a common way to provide consistent and predictable ways of providing data protection than the enterprise, I believe is an essential item as people evolve into this whole cloud mindset and taking more and more advantage of cloud based solutions that exist out today for the enterprise.

Daniel Newman: Which sort of brings me to that point in question, I’d love to get your take on this. Storage has long been thought about as the rotation of tape, and it’s been a physical activity without a lot of strategy thought. With a lot of cloud things, there’s a lot of strategy. Why are we not thinking about the business outcomes with data protection like we do when we’re making decisions on SaaS software or other infrastructure as a service?

Chadd Kenney: Yeah. I think it was just such an old antiquated thing, and people just don’t like to make big changes because it’s a hard lift to make a change. And I think what Clumio has done here is they’ve enabled the change to be very, very easy for the end consumer. And too, the value that enterprises getting for focusing on strategic aspects versus infrastructure and things that are, I will say, lower value down into the food chain, allows them to really be able to advance their mission quicker.

And I think that that’s what more and more people are realizing. SaaS allows you to take the burden away, provide more strategic focus. And so, as more people are focusing on these aspects, I think more and more strategic efforts are being successful in the enterprise, but also alleviating the pains that people have out there. Many of our customers complain about, “I’m up late at night on this,” or, “I’m missing time with family,” or, “I’m just sick of this thing not working.” Us taking that burden off of them and allowing them to really be able to leverage the agility of the cloud and scalability is a big win for everybody.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, because we’re really seeing this. The way apps are developed, it’s very fluid, it’s agile, right? Many environments, data is flowing in many different directions. And old models are sort of the antithesis of agile IT. And you alluded to this earlier, but multiple clouds, multiple on-prem data centers, edge, that’s going to be another whole windfall of issues. And then of course, on-device information and IOT. The data sources are so disparate, so you’ve got to protect it. And it doesn’t matter where it’s created and where it resides, but you’ve got these forces, a new kind of cloud, a new architecture. And the demand, you have to protect it no matter where it started, and then where it goes.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah. And when you look at the solutions of the past, it was really focused just on the private cloud. And that was satisfying a need, but if you look at the momentum and the journey of the cloud in enterprises today, it’s crazy. A lot of people went the lift and shift route, which was just move as much stuff as I possibly could to the cloud. Some of them saw great value in that and they were very successful, and some went to go more optimized with using more path services as an example or platform as a service offering.

But a lot of people, for very proprietary applications are going the new development route, and now it’s a game of trying to optimize so that the developer can do their job in the most simplistic form factor or the easiest way possible, so that when it goes into operations, they don’t have to handhold the entire process. This was the whole DevOps model of making things easily more fluid. What we’re providing is integrating that into their platform early on so that when it moves operations, they have a consistent way of applying data protection. And this is solving a lot of the fundamental challenges that enterprises have as they evolve down this cloud path.

Daniel Newman: Yeah. something that you said to me when we talked outside and I thought it was, it was really valuable and I’d love for you to share this with the community and all the listeners out there. And by the way, thanks Clumio for joining us here on the Futurum Tech Podcast. I really enjoy just hearing and learning about what different companies are doing. But you talked to me about building for cloud in cloud.

Chadd Kenney: Mm-hmm.

Daniel Newman: Talk a little bit about what that is because I found that a really interesting way of explaining it.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah. So this was, I think one of the things that I saw when I looked at Clumio as a key differentiator that put them leaps and bounds ahead of what existed in the market today. Most people, when they look at how am I going to move to the cloud, take the thing they know, which is in many cases the compute or server that it’s sitting on in the data center, whether that’s virtualized or physical, and just moving it to the cloud as it exists. But in order to get true leverage from the public cloud, you actually have to build it on a lot of the native componentry because it’s built for agility, it’s built for scalability and it enables you to be able to build platforms that provide a very different user experience and take the efficiencies of the cloud into the platform.

So what we did is we actually built in a world of, I’ll throw a couple of buzzwords out here, but serverless and containers maturity. Three years ago, that wasn’t all so true. And building a platform just three years ago allowed us to be able to really micro partition applications, build workflows instead of monolithic apps. And it allowed us to be able to take advantage of things that increased parallelism, decreased overall aggregate costs, enabled user experiences that were much more scalable without having to do any thinking whatsoever.

As an example, backup has really been a sizing exercise. How big is my backup? How much change rate do I have? And all of these things that people just don’t want to think about it anymore. We came out with a pricing model that says, “We’re just going to charge per VM.” It could be whatever size that it is. It took the thought completely out of backup. It just said, “How many VMs do we have and I’m going to license for that.” And the reason why is because we get inherent efficiencies throughout this entire stack, and we can enable multiple different compute type storage types and the likes, that give us that huge efficiency as to be able to provide that new user experience.

Daniel Newman: But you’re backing everything up one-to-one?

Chadd Kenney: So the backups occur actually with a de-dupe and compression and encryption before it leaves the customer site. So we have high levels of efficiency on the way out of the customer’s site as well as on restore, since it’s going to the public cloud. And when it’s restored back on premises, we also do that in a highly efficient fashion where we only restore the data blocks required to recreate the data. This saves a lot on bandwidth because there’s always a concern of, if I’m backing up to the cloud, how am I going to be able to move all that data? And in many cases you’re only moving, just a very, very small amount of data each direction.

Daniel Newman: Right. Which, with the creations of petabytes of data and volumes of data that’s actually there that needs to be moved. But this means using the compression that you’re able to create a lot of economies of scale for customers, so they can benefit from that more SaaS user experience driven backup. But, concurrently they’re not required to store one for one.

I think that’s an important point. I know there’s some of that out there and it’s not a new concept. And like I said, on the consumer end, it’s well understood in some cases. But on the enterprise side, a lot of times it really is, like you says, big blocks of storage that really, in order to truly protect data, it’s bringing those complete files from point to point. So this is giving you an economy of scale that customers can find value in.

Chadd Kenney: The other area that I think that many times in the cloud, people think very much focused on a cloud or a thing, but we realize the world’s evolved where data has now been dispersed across all these clouds, and even across multiple different public clouds that you may have out there.

And doing data movement is not the same anymore. You used to be able to copy data from one rack to another rack, or from one site to another site, and it didn’t matter. There was no additional cost, it was all one big capital purchase.

But if you try to now pull data from one cloud to another cloud, you get beat up with ridiculous amounts of egress charges and hidden costs left and right. So having a model where you do not have hidden costs for one and two, and architecture that allows data to be backed up in the cloud that it was created in, versus having to constantly move data across clouds brings a lot of efficiency and a lot of cost reduction for the enterprise who are trying to be more multi-cloud and provide more of these services where data becomes dispersed all over the place.

Daniel Newman: So when most people go to a SaaS application, there’s kind of these different layers of complexity, right? You guys have something that an enterprise can embrace and utilize, which is different than a small business setting up QuickBooks, right? So the combination here is a SaaS, when you talk about SaaS, it’s really about that experience. It’s like you said about being able to start quickly. So explain that just for the listeners and users out there that are thinking about this as a possible solution. You’re really saying that the backup and data protection of your data can start instantly in a SaaS like experience, no major lift and shift, easy to get started, easy like maybe setting up a zoom account?

Chadd Kenney: It’s exactly like that. And that’s I think the power of SaaS, is for one, you can innovate quickly. But the onramp to it is great. Think about this usual model where you spend a lot of time, sizing, figuring out how big I need this thing to be, figuring out how many network ports I’m going to need. I need to get an IP addresses. I need to make sure the data center guys are in place to be able to rack and stack the gear, I need to upgrade the software to the right version.

That is all gone. Literally, you can sign up for Clumio in 15 minutes, be backing up your environment from 15 minutes ago. And the world shifts dramatically into focusing in on what data do I need to back up? What’s the policy of which I’d like to retain that data? And then, you literally never deal with it again until you need to restore something, whether it’s a file, a VM or a full volume of things.

So it’s a refreshing experience. Our customers just laugh because we see lots of people with pictures and data centers pointing to their arrays, and they’re all excited about the thing, and I’m like, “Dude, that took two to three weeks, if not months to even get to that point. We’ve got customers who are already done before these guys even got through their first meeting.” So that power of SaaS is humongous.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, that is a super interesting. I can’t remember who it was, Chadd, but we had a guest on the show once that laughed about why people take people up to their data center and show it off like it’s interesting. It’s a bunch of bleeping lights. Why is that interesting to anybody? It’s a bunch of racks and bleeping lights. But you meet a tech people and the first thing they do is they drag you up to their data center. It’s like, “Have you never seen a rack before?” But I think the whole point is more about doing business and operating, and doing whatever it is your company does, not being in IT.

So, I’ve got to ask this question and I’ll throw it back at you. You’ve been in the industry, you’ve been with a competitive product and solutions offerings. You probably are familiar with some of the big legacy players that have huge market shares and storage. What’s stopping everyone from just coming on over?

Chadd Kenney: Competing with us or joining the company?

Daniel Newman: I don’t know. Let’s say either.

Chadd Kenney: Well, when you look at the competitive landscape, when we talked about building from the cloud up, it’s not an easy thing to do for one, to find people who know how to build stuff in the cloud. And two, I think there’s been many failings of people trying to take what has existed for a while and then tried to move it to the cloud, and assumed you’d get the same experience.

I’d say that it’s a complete redo. It’s a complete start over to try to build in the cloud, if you want to get good efficiencies and scale. And so yeah, many of these can do it, but they’ll be two to three years behind us, and we’re innovating at a pace and have the talent to go deliver this experience to enterprise. So I’d say it’s possible, but we’d love for them to bring some competition in this space besides just the older legacy products that exist today.

Daniel Newman: Well, you’re not publicly traded, but there’s a compelling case to buy stock. So, let’s flip it here. A little embargo alert. So this, like I said, was recorded in March, but you have some news coming up which is going to delay this coming out. So if you’re wondering what date you’re probably going to be catching this in early May, or maybe late April at the end. But Chadd, you’ve got some news to share, so I want to use this as a platform for you to talk about what you guys are doing and one of your upcoming new announcements.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah. So we talked a little bit about public, private and SaaS based solutions as being the core platform and Clumio delivers on backing up private cloud with virtualization. We also do VMware cloud running in AWS. And we added in a couple months ago, the ability to do elastic block storage, which is an AWS as well. And that gave us private cloud and public cloud. So we wanted to continue that momentum and we’re building our first SaaS service with Office 365, enabling customers to be able to provide consistency across all these use cases with uniform policies that can be applied across your private cloud, your public cloud assets, and now even SaaS based solutions with Office 365.

So it’s an exciting time for our customers to be able to just see this continued innovation and momentum that we have within the business. And the fun part of SaaS is guess what? Zero customers will have to do a software upgrade. Zero customers will have the lift of finger whatsoever to get this new innovation that exists in our platform today. And our existing customers will just continue down the vision that we set forth at the beginning of providing a simple intuitive way of providing data protection with no complexity whatsoever.

Daniel Newman: CICD for every customer, continuous innovation and development.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: And then, in the user’s case, little do they know next time they hit the URL, it comes back and it’s been updated. And not much downtime, right? That’s the beauty of this. So you guys have to have some system that you are able to update, but it never actually affects any of your users.

Chadd Kenney: Yeah. So any given week, we roll a new version every Thursday. So new bug fixes, or new releases, or new innovations roll out constantly. So what’s nice is usually you had like big monster maintenance windows to upgrade to do these things because it was a big old package that was a quarter worth of stuff. With doing it on a weekly basis, these are very small updates that we have to do within the platform, and that upgrade propagates through the system, so there is no downtime whatsoever for our end consumers.

Daniel Newman: Well, it’s super exciting. I mean O365, I believe they’re in the hundreds of millions of users now, and it’s growing really fast. Microsoft obviously has over a billion Office users, and in time, the company’s entire objective is rolling everyone over to O365. It’s a good business model, and also it’s just the way, I think especially under Satya Nadella, there’s no interest in having a traditional software licensing business. It’s an immediate shift out.

So your ability to support that is a true example of public, private and SaaS support. If I had to put my analyst hat on, which is what I do, I’d say you started in the biggest possible pond in terms of applications and your work your way up. So you’ve got the public cloud, you’ve got the application layer, the virtualization layer, you’ve got the private cloud and data center layer.

So you’ve got a lot of things under control. So if, if I had to make a prediction, I would think that CIOs, as the word gets out, and the word has gotten out, you’ve gotten to your series C, which means that people and investors seriously are aware of the business. Poojan Kumar, the CEO, he’s known in the tech communities. He’s had some pretty significant exits. I’m sure he’s shaking the right hands and the right trees to bring customers in. But it sounds like it’s on a really good trajectory and it’s going to be really interesting to have you guys come back in maybe six months or a year and hear what’s next for Clumio.

Chadd Kenney: A lot of exciting days ahead, I will tell you that, and great innovations that help the enterprise. But thank you very much for having us on. I think it’s always fun to talk tech and dig into some of the things the enterprises are going through today, as well as the world and some of the fun stuff we’re going through as well.

Daniel Newman: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s great having you on, Chadd. I really appreciate you sharing a little bit about the company. It is moving fast. It is a lot of fun, and right now it’s fun just to get face to face. We used to do that regularly and be normal, but in these times, it’s anything but normal.

But for everyone out there, definitely check out our show notes. We’ll have some links where you can learn more about Clumio. You can catch onto this announcement. Check the company out. Doing very interesting, very innovative things. If you’re an ITDM and you’re looking at your storage and your cloud and your Software as a Service investments, this is something that is definitely worth checking out.

So for the Futurum Tech Podcast, I’m Daniel Newman. I appreciate everybody tuning in. Don’t forget to subscribe. Until next time, we will see you later. Bye-bye.

This podcast is part of a special series focused around what leaders and companies are doing to help employees and customers deal with COVID-19. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss out on amazing insights.

Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such. 

Daniel Newman