A recent article sponsored by a backup vendor raised the question that organizations were holding off moving mission-critical workloads to a virtual infrastructure because of concerns with backup and recovery based on a study they commissioned. I find the results perplexing given the explosive growth in virtualized servers and the success of VMware. In addition, our own surveys show that customers are indeed moving mission critical applications to virtual environments without any hesitancy.
That said, Quest offers a comprehensive solution suite of products that address conversion, monitoring, optimization, management and protection of virtual environments. Maybe Quest customers have fewer concerns knowing they have a Top Five IT systems company as their partner for virtual environments?
Whatever the case, it makes me wonder “When does a vendor’s agenda take precedence over customer requirements?” Having spent 20 years in high-tech with half of that time working for fast-paced Silicon Valley companies, I’ve been involved in more than one discussion where Product Managers and Engineering debate whether customers really know what they want. It’s easy for technology companies to take a myopic approach to customer requirements because they are so close to the technology itself, they lose site of the problem they are trying to solve.
At issue is technology-driven versus market-driven solutions. Technology-driven solutions look at a problem from a technical perspective and decide how to introduce functionality into a product based on anything from available APIs on the host platform to the implementation of the product. They also tend to be more focused on how it is done versus the functionality and usability of the product.
Market-driven solutions however, look at the “problem that needs to be solved” and once requirements from customers, partners, and internal stakeholders are assessed and prioritized, the decision on how to deliver the solution are developed.
In the world of VM backup, there seems to be a false delineation between physical backup approaches and virtual. Quite frankly, there are different approaches to each because the infrastructure itself has different challenges and the APIs that both virtual and physical backup vendors use have benefits and limitations. To suggest that customers have to move to a “virtualization specific solution” is not only self-serving, but ludicrous. Customers want a solution to protecting their data; virtual, physical, application and even the cloud. In the case of VMware, almost every data protection vendor is using the same set of APIs to protect ESX/ESXi environments. The approaches may differ, but the basic ability to perform an encapsulated backup of a VM and then restore individual components is pretty much ubiquitous. Differentiation can come when comparing additional features, performance and scalability, and ease of use.
One approach to protecting virtual environments could be to limit the scope of a product based on the limitations inherent in the environment itself – an approach driven, and limited by underlying technology. A better, market-driven approach is to look at the bigger picture and provide a solution that addresses all data, physical and virtual, while not sacrificing features and functionality that have been long established (and required) in legacy backup solutions. Quest’s approach is the latter because we don’t believe customers should have to choose between the limitations of a specific platform and functionality. We don’t believe that customers have to settle for less when it comes to recovering applications at an object level, and we certainly don’t believe customers have to choose one vendor for virtual backup and another for physical.
Market-driven always wins over technology-driven, and thanks to the continued adoption of virtual infrastructure, customers have a lot of choices. Even though Quest is the leading provider of not only backup for virtual environments but also management, we have to continuously innovate and adapt. Our vision for data protection for virtual environments couldn’t be more different than some of our competitors. Where other vendors see challenges and limitations, Quest sees vast, new opportunities for backup and recovery. We don’t believe customers should sacrifice features they come to expect in legacy physical backup solutions just to protect their virtual infrastructure nor do they want to develop silos for data protection. My feeling is that most organizations will have a mix of virtual and physical and will look to one source to protect both.