Cloud Computing

Druva sees starring role among backup clouds

Backup was always one of the least glamourous of IT tasks. Companies duplicated data because they needed to have that information to hand should systems fail; tapes and disks were stored and perhaps later archived onsite or offsite, and that was that. But backup today is very different. It’s intimately tied up with rules on corporate governance and the advent of cloud has made the economics of backup very different.

Druva is an eight-year-old Silicon Valley company that is emblematic of that change. It bills itself as a “public cloud backup and recovery” startup and runs no datacentres of its own for customers but instead taps AWS and Microsoft Azure facilities to offer firms business continuity and that much prized compliance and governance.

Thirtysomething India-born founder and CEO Jaspreet Singh says that Druva can help firms live without the usual siloes and the expense of additional hardware and software for backup and compliance. Druva, the name, means ‘north star’ in Sanskrit, by way of a devotee to the Supreme God Vishnu. Singh sees Druva the technology as a particularly good fit for companies with large mobile and BYOD estates that make endpoint security challenging. In effect, what Singh is doing is building something analogous to a 21st-century equivalent of Veritas, the storage management giant he was once employed by.

“We see public cloud as a perfect fit for scale, security and cost,” he tells me. “You can bridge between cloud and on-premises and [with data governance built in] we’re not just a dumping ground for backup data.”

Druva’s progress has seen it raise about $67m in funding, attract 4,000 customers and hire 400 staff. And yet that reliance on the big cloud platform providers make it sound like quite a lean and mean operation. Singh compares his approach with that of semiconductor designers who these days mostly subcontract manufacturing rather than build pricey chip fabrication sites.

I ask whether the lack of ability to touch and feel data in their own datacentres raises any concerns among CIOs at conservative companies but Singh says that the ability to “pin down” data to a location the customer wants for sovereignty/residency reasons, together with rules-based data permission controls, mean most buyers are comfortable with the maturing cloud scene.

Druva uses compression, caching and content delivery networking tricks to accelerate its service and offers buyers a premium Direct Connect capability for thoise that need further optimised performance. That fast, low-bandwidth profile means Singh also spies a role for his company in the Internet of Things, helping buyers swerve “hardware and software mess” and providing reliable, rapid synchronisation.

One other option might be licensing the service to giants but Singh disagrees, preferring reseller and service provider relationships. “I think white-labelling of cloud doesn’t work,” he says.

Like so many modern technology companies in the Valley, Druva is a hybrid of India and the US. “The question of what’s an American company is ambiguous these days,” Singh ponders. “But the genesis of company was in India and there’s a big pride factor there.”

But Singh wants to build a truly global operation and one recent area of focus has been Japan, Druva having set up shop there to serve the region and having agreed a recent deal that will see telecoms giant NTT take an undisclosed stake in Druva on top of its existing reseller relationship.

Further out, Druva has a shot at taking more money off the tables of the traditional datacentre and backup giants. Singh is keen on an eventual IPO in a year or two if the markets are propitious and who would bet against that happening if buyers keep following the star pointing them to cloud computing?


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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