News/Trends

“Evaluating a backup product’s ease-of-use”

August 21, 2020 W. Curtis Preston, Chief Technology Evangelist

One of the most important decisions to consider when evaluating a technology product is the degree to which the user’s experience was kept in mind during the design phase. Did they design things in such a way that using the product is simple, and navigation between features is as seamless as possible? Or did they simply rush to deliver a product that didn’t emphasize simplicity and ease-of-use?

Where you most often see a rush to deliver a product is after a technology company acquires another company for their products to bolster their existing portfolio. After all, the easiest way to profitability is to simply rebrand a product and ship it to the customer. As an example, one large backup vendor acquired another backup product many years ago and promised to integrate it into their existing offering. However, after multiple attempts over the years, they eventually gave up and the products are as separate today as they were when they were originally acquired. Yet another vendor that acquired multiple backup software products and appliances, and years later these products are all still completely disparate.. When the products do work together, the philosophy seems to be focused only on how many kinds of said products they can sell you – not on how they can help the consumer.

A product acquisition done correctly should be seamless to new customers. There is one storage company who acquired products and then seamlessly integrated them into their product line. It took the company quite a while to accomplish this feat, but their customers are the better for it. They could’ve maintained two distinct product lines, like the earlier example company, but they chose to prioritize seamless integration over quick profits.

I think of Druva and how we acquired CloudRanger in order to extend support to native AWS workloads. One of the great things about the SaaS model is how easy it made integrating CloudRanger into our portfolio. Within weeks our customers had access to CloudRanger functionality within our console, without having to manage any infrastructure or learn any new terminology. All customers had to do was simply choose a new menu option that wasn’t there before. This allows us to enhance the product behind the scenes without our customers having to upgrade software to get new functionality.

Data protection vendors have a variety of sources to protect, including physical servers, virtual machines, cloud services like IaaS/PaaS, SaaS like Office 365 or Salesforce, mobile devices such as laptops, smart phones, and tablets, SQL and non-SQL databases, as well as containers and Kubernetes environments. It makes sense to have different parts of the product or service handle each data source, because the workflows of setting up a backup are completely different.

However, if a backup product or service you’re considering backs up so many different data sources, it’s important to make sure that the vendor took simplicity and ease-of-use into mind. If you are evaluating potential data protection products or services, the following are some things to look at to see if your potential product or service is easy to use.

Single sign-on

Requiring customers to remember multiple usernames and passwords to sign into your system is not a positive feature from a security perspective. Products that require you to login multiple times decreases your level of security with every additional login, especially if users are re-using passwords across systems. In contrast, Druva has a single console and login that gives you access to every part of our product.

Integration with a single sign-on system like Okta, such as Druva does, is an even better solution. Single sign-on systems makes granting and revoking access to applications much easier for those who must administer them. All an IT administrator has to do is grant or revoke a user’s permissions within Okta and all of a given user’s access is immediately given or taken away. Okta also provides multi-factor authentication (MFA), something else quite important in today’s world.

Single lexicon

When I think back on the previously mentioned backup company that had acquired another product, this was their undoing. They couldn’t agree on a common lexicon between the two products! The different terms for the same function were a constant source of frustration and unnecessary complexity for customers using both products.

It’s very important to have a single lexicon across multiple parts of a product to reduce complexity and make the learning curve much less steep for new employees. It’s one thing to have to learn a new backup product; imagine learning two backup products simultaneously if they use completely different terminology.

Shared infrastructure

Backup products should not require you to run multiple backup servers and manage the capacity and performance of multiple backup targets. One large backup company that acquired an archive product got this right; their backup and archive products shared infrastructure, reducing cost and complexity for the customer.

This is where the simplicity of SaaS and the proper use of cloud infrastructure really shine. Not only do Druva customers not have to maintain multiple backup infrastructures in order to back up numerous data source types, Druva customers do not have to manage any backup infrastructure! There are no backup servers to maintain, secure, and upgrade. There is no disk or tape capacity that must be managed in order for backups to successfully work. All computing, network, and storage infrastructure automatically scales up and down to meet every customer’s requirements. It can’t get more simple than that.

Share related technology

When buying a backup product or service, you are often buying a set of products or services that were designed or acquired over a period of time. You want these products whenever possible to share technology behind-the-scenes, because it reduces complexity and cost. For example, the fact that Druva’s deduplication technology is shared across our entire portfolio means that every time we enhance that core technology every part of the product benefits. Those benefits are immediately passed on to the full scope of our customers, regardless of which part of the product they use.

Simple is better

Simplicity might be the most important feature to evaluate when looking at backup and recovery vendors. Backing up and recovering data, servers, and data centers is complex enough. Additionally, the backup role is typically a revolving door, requiring constant training of new people on how the backup system works. Making the backup system easy to understand and use is the key to having a well-functioning system when you actually need it. It is important that your backup vendor understands this and puts simplicity first.

Learn more about how Druva integrated CloudRanger’s technology and how the result makes things easier, not harder.

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