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Adoption Of Industry-Specific Clouds Is Increasing But Challenges Still Remain | Danny Allan

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Industry clouds are mostly built on top of existing clouds but with added control and with specific industry applications or components. This helps organizations get to market quicker and has the benefit of shared knowledge. However, there are misconceptions that moving to the cloud will solve all your problems, and organizations can sometimes neglect data protection and security aspects.

In this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Danny Allan, CTO at Veeam Software to discuss industry clouds and their increasing adoption. He goes into detail about the key challenges of industry clouds and how they are evolving.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Allan explains what industry clouds are and how they are different from general clouds. One of the key differences is that industry clouds understand the regulatory pressures a specific vertical falls under. However, as he goes on to say, industry-specific clouds are mostly built on top of existing clouds just with additional control added to it.
  • Industry-specific clouds have additional service, not just in compliance but also with specific industry applications or components. Allan discusses what additional components may be added into industry clouds to help organizations meet their goals.
  • The main aim of industry clouds is to reduce the time to market for organizations within a particular industry. Allan shares the benefits of this approach.
  • There can be misconceptions that just something is in the cloud that will solve all your problems. Allan explains how even though the cloud is providing the underlying infrastructure and components, you are still responsible for the data and the responsibilities associated with it. He goes through how responsibilities have shifted.
  • Allan discusses how to avoid vendor lock-in. He explains the importance of understanding the context of the application and what you are trying to deliver in order to determine where to run the data.
  • Industry-specific clouds often give you a component to run out at the edge that is predetermined and pre-configured to work cleanly with the centralized environment. Allan explains how industry-specific clouds can help organizations navigate the edge and what that might look like for different industries.
  • Allan discusses the challenges he is seeing with industry-specific clouds, such as understanding what is going to differentiate you and what makes you unique.
  • Industry clouds are taking off in particular verticals like government and manufacturing; however, adoption is still generally low. Allan shares his insights into the adoption of industry clouds.
  • Cloud, whether industry cloud or public cloud, is often viewed as resource pooling. However, it can also be seen as knowledge pooling. Allan goes into detail about the benefits of sharing knowledge between peers but also from the cloud provider.
  • Allan gives his advice on how organizations moving to industry-specific clouds can best prepare themselves. He also details how Veeam Software can help people navigate industry clouds with their data protection and backup solutions.
  • Data protection for industry-specific clouds is not much different from other architectures. However, you do have specific applications with specific data repositories. Allan describes why it becomes critical to know what the applications are and how they are configured, particularly in a distributed environment.
  • Veeam Software does have playbooks of migration to the cloud or migration to the next generation of services. Allan shares some insights into what people can do to avoid a lot of pitfalls and ensure the transition goes smoothly.
  • Allan feels that overall moving to the cloud is better than on-premises because cloud providers make sure the availability is there and the security. However, he believes that sometimes organizations fail to put in proper data protection and security.

Connect with Danny Allan (LinkedIn, Twitter)

Learn more about Veeam Software (LinkedIn, Twitter)

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.

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Here is the automated and unedited transcript of the recording. Please note that the transcript has not been edited or reviewed. 

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host, Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to another episode of TFiR Let’s Talk. We have with us Danny Allan, CTO at Veeam Software. Danny, it’s great to have you on the show.

Danny Allan: Yeah. Great to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Today, we are going to talk about industry clouds. They are kind of depending on how you look at them, they’re finally taking off in general from my perception, they are more or less like cloud providers or bundling, services, tools, applications targeted as specific use cases. Sometime I look at it in the old days, not old days, traditional word, we had like custom software is specific use case industry. So when we look at general public cloud, that is anybody can go in there, use the services that they want. That is my perception, but I would hear from you, how do you look at industry clouds, how different they are from, you can say commodity, or in general public cloud?

Danny Allan: Differences are probably less than you think between industry specific clouds and general clouds. One of the things that clearly comes into play is around compliance and regulations. So a lot of the industry specific clouds understand the regulatory pressures that a specific vertical falls under and they take advantage of providing the services and capabilities and logging and things that you need. They’ll also look at all of the underlying components. So if you think about authentication, and authorization, and logging and third party access, a lot of that is built into the service. Most of the time, I would say that the industry specific clouds are built on top of existing clouds. It’s just that additional controls are added to it.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So the difference between, let’s say industry specific cloud versus general cloud is just additional services that need for compliance, or it’s more geared towards specific industry use cases like, let’s say retail industry, they might have a totally different requirement. Manufacturing may have a totally different requirement. Then let’s say, our audio streaming service.

Danny Allan: I would say they’re built on the same foundation, but there are additional services, not just in the compliance space. It is true in compliance, but they’ll have things like, if you’re in a manufacturing environment, for example, there may be a specific application that’s being used. I know in healthcare, you’ll hear a lot about Meditech and Epic. Those applications will often be pre-installed. If you’re talking about Internet of Things, you’ll have databases specific to data collection. So it’s typically built on a common foundation, but there’s additional compliance and components to help the organization meet whatever goals they’re trying to achieve.

Swapnil Bhartiya: So is it more or less like when these specific industries they consume public cloud, they do need additional layers. So more or less cloud providers are bringing those layers within the realm of cloud itself, that’s what is happening to make it easier for those players?

Danny Allan: Yes. The whole goal of this is to reduce the time to market for the organizations within the industry, make it easier for them. And of course, if you package up the services, you package up the applications, you make sure all the compliance requirements are there that makes it faster to bring something to market. It’s also true that sometimes you find an ecosystem. So you’ll have other organizations very similar to yourself that you partner with. And they also will be running off the same cloud.

Swapnil Bhartiya: One thing with the public cloud is sometimes folks think that once you move to the cloud, all of your problems are gone, which is not the reality. When we move to this injustice specific cloud, where a lot of things that are specific to your use case are also moving to the cloud. Can you also talk about what are the myths? What are the realities so that we do understand the line where it’s drawn there?

Danny Allan: Sure. So the first thing I always tell people is, you have to understand that it’s your data and you still own all of the requirements that go along with that data. So while the cloud is providing underlying infrastructure and components, when it comes to things like performance or security or data protection, you still are responsible for all of the data running in the cloud. And so, what you find is a shifting of responsibilities.

It used to be that the IT organizations, or the governance organizations were managing everything from the infrastructure all the way up to the application and what we found is that organizations then typically focus on the higher level services like security, like governance, like data protection when they move to these clouds. The other thing I always warn customers about you should always understand what your off ramp is, going into the cloud tends to be relatively easy, but what does the egress look like if you need, for some reason to move that service out of the cloud, back on premises or to another geography, are you prepared to exit that particular industry cloud.

Swapnil Bhartiya: You talk about, even if you move to the cloud, you’d still on the data, but the fact is that cloud, they have their own data gravity as well.So how to have that escape velocity as you mentioned so that you are not get too much vendor locked into this specific provider?

Danny Allan: Well, data has gravity, as you mentioned. So if you’re talking about a manufacturing plant, for example, it might be that they can’t even use cloud because they need the data at the edge where they’re working with it. And so, understanding the context of your application of your service, what you’re trying to deliver is very important. Then the data gravity will ultimately determine, can you run it at the edge? Do you run it in your data center or sometimes, and it’s often the case now, is it better to run it in a verticalized or industry specific cloud?

Swapnil Bhartiya: You mentioned edge depending on how people look at it, their different perspective of looking, it could also be seen as a small IoT device, or it could just be an data center at the edge, or instead of going far from the user data center, near the user. So in terms of industry specific cloud, do you see that number one edge, second is the prolification of private 5G network is kind of enabling that as well?

Danny Allan: Yes, there’s no question. So as you point out, what is the edge is the first question. And typically, if you’re talking to a retail organization, for example, the store is the edge, or if you’re talking to a manufacturing center, typically the factory is the edge, but then you want that to work in conjunction with the centralized environment. Because if you’re a retail store, you want to send your data to a central repository. And same thing, if you’re a manufacturing center, you might want to send it back to the headquarters and that can be the cloud or the centralized data center. And so we’re seeing these work in conjunction with one another. So it’s never a question of or, it’s always a question of and, it’s a hybrid world where often actually the industry specific clouds will give you a component to run out at the edge that is pre-determined and pre-configured to work really cleanly with the centralized environment.

Swapnil Bhartiya: You talked about that earlier, and I just want to go a bit into details once again, the difference between general purpose cloud versus industry cloud, it could be from the either perspective of cloud providers or from the users is that, what are some specific unique challenges that you are seeing that comes with industry specific cloud when they have added additional services on top of existing ones, just to cater to that specific use case?

Danny Allan: Well, one of the things that you have to consider is what is going to differentiate you. If everyone within your industry is doing the exact same thing in the same industry cloud, you have the same outcome. And so understanding what is going to differentiate you and often it’s the data itself. So if you’re just adopting the same solution that everyone else is, you’re not really determining what that differentiation is. And so as you go to an industry specific cloud, it’s still important to understand what are the things that make you unique over and above, what is in that default industry cloud?

Swapnil Bhartiya: How much adoption have you seen of, I mean, how popular industry cloud is becoming that you have seen?

Danny Allan: It’s hard to say exactly how broad it is, what I’ll say in specific verticals, I see it taking off. If you take very simple things like the government, GovCloud is actually a specific kind of industry cloud, and we see a lot of government organizations that are moving into, for example, AWS GovCloud, you see in specific environments like manufacturing, where organizations, the ISVs will actually put their software in a pre-configured cloud, and then leverage that, sell that out to the manufacturing plants and organizations. But I’d say adoption is relatively low right now. I don’t have a scientific number, but if I had to guess less than 2015, 20% of the industry, and I do think we’re going to see that accelerate over the next three or four years.

Swapnil Bhartiya: The reason I asked that question was also to understand that if we have enough data also see, what are the… Because, without that option, we won’t even know the pitfalls, the mistakes that folks are making or the lessons they have learned so that based on the small user base that you’ve seen, have you seen any pattern where people are realizing, “Hey, this is how it should not be done, or this is how it should be done.” What are the lessons they have learned?

Danny Allan: Yes. Everyone thinks of the cloud, whether it’s general cloud or industry specific cloud as resource pooling. I actually believe that probably the greater advantage is the knowledge pooling. One of the things that you’re getting just by default at the infrastructure level is how do I configure the applications and deliver the applications securely, but then there’s knowledge sharing again, even above that, you can go to your peers who are also using those applications and using those services, and you can learn from them best practices. And so, one of the significant benefits that you get from cloud above just the technology, the resource sharing is the knowledge sharing that is coming both from the cloud provider, but also from peers, if you’re in collaboration work group.

Swapnil Bhartiya: When we talk about knowledge sharing, I cannot not talk about tribal knowledge and technical debt that, especially in this economy, folks are moving, they are moving along. So, sometime that knowledge goes with them. So how do you look at it? And if I ask, what’s advice you have for folks who are moving to industry specific cloud so they can prepare themselves? So as people move, they should not lose that edge there.

Danny Allan: Oh, this is an easy one because I work for Veeam Software. And one of the things that we do data protection on, is all the communication that happens through email or Microsoft teams and all of the different channels of communication. And so, protecting and having copies of that information and IP is especially critical because if you lose employees who have that in their head, then at least you have a backup, you have a copy of that data to be mined at some later date to help you as an organization, provide better services.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Since you brought it in, that creates a perfect sequel to my next question, which was going to be more or less about when we look at this injustice specific clouds, what kind of threat may not be a good verbal challenges that are there in terms of data production and how Veeam actually help folks? So once again, you talked about one issue, but then there are a lot of other issues because that’s we discussed earlier. Cloud is not a magical place though it looked like one. So talk about data protection landscape for industry specific cloud.

Danny Allan: Well, data protection for industry specific clouds is probably not a whole lot different thing you would think of, for on premises or the general cloud. So you have data protection, of course, for operating systems, we’re used to backup of your physical laptop or whatever you’re using. And, we can clearly do that in a virtual environment, image based backup. But one of the things that does come into play in industry clouds is that you have specific applications with specific data repositories. So it might be that you need to capture your SQL server database or your Oracle database in an application, consistent format with the application itself. And so what you find is knowing what the applications are, how they’re configured, especially in a distributed environment, becomes critical. And of course, Veeam helps with that, with our software platform.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Last question, it is once again kind of addition to what we just discuss is, as we are talking about the adoption is slow, but it will grow as you mentioned. So as enterprises embrace injustice specific cloud, do you have not entirely a playbooks, but some advice to them that how they should prepare themselves so that not only the move is smooth, but also they can avoid a lot of pitfalls that you talked about earlier?

Danny Allan: Well, in all of these situations, we put together runbooks or playbooks of migration to the cloud or migration to the next generation of services. In fact, one of the things that we do here is we help customers go through that transformation.

You can actually take a physical service with our software and say, I want to put it in virtual and you can take, hit a button and say, put that in the public cloud, or you can migrate databases from one place to another. So we not even only help organizations prepare for that migration and movement, but we’ll give them the confidence and the consistency as they go through it, to make sure that their data’s protected. And if they don’t like it, if they do need that exit, that off ramp, they can roll back to the location that they were before, because it is true, there is no one size fits all. You might need capacity or application delivery from the cloud for a period of time, but then for compliance or governance or, financial reasons, the cloud is not a charity. You might want to pull that back on premises at some point, and we can help with all of that.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Well, last question is also as these industries, they do move to the cloud, a lot of things that were on-prem, what kind of in the context of data risk that you feel are serious? Like ransomware is, there are certain things where the data is just gone. It’s not destroyed, so what are the things that you feel could be a potential threat as more and more enterprise move towards industries cloud, or you think that no, since they’re moving to cloud, it’s a magical place, you don’t have to worry about them?

Danny Allan: The key is that the role is shifting. So some people move to cloud and they think it’s all taken care of. And the reality is, it’s not. And what that does is it causes some organizations to lose sight of, “Oh, I need to do data protection, or I need to make sure security is in place, or I need to make sure my configuration is appropriate.” And, people ignore that and they become less secure. But in the large, in the main, what I would say is moving to the cloud is actually better than on-premises because at the infrastructure level, these cloud providers, their whole business, is about making sure that the availability is there, that the security is there, that things can scale appropriately. So as long as you realize that the roles are shifting and you still have responsibility for the specific top of the stack for the key data capabilities, then generally as an organization, you’ll end up in a more secure, a better location than you were if you were running it on-premises.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. And as you earlier said, the way you look at cloud, like the source pulling, that’s how people should look at it. Instead of having my own, the small IT team, managing my old server, and even worrying about setting Nginx server and Apache servers, and the next updating, they free themselves from all those someone else’s, but that does not mean that your application layer in other things need no production. So thanks for bringing that up in the beginning itself.

Danny Allan: One of the things that might be interesting to touch on is Kubernetes, because it is changing the way that applications are designed. So if you’re writing within Containers with Container orchestration and Kubernetes, it actually brings an interesting element to cloud that wasn’t there before. It gives you a true portability from on-premises, but then also across clouds, whether it be GKE, AKS, EKS and that also will shift, I believe the fundamentals of industry clouds and the cloud in general, by leveraging container based services.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Danny, thank you so much for taking time out today and not only share your insights about industry cloud, but also share some of the kind of playbook that how folks should approach and how you know that moving to cloud is not magical, but at the same time, it does solve the lot of problem, but that does not mean as you mentioned that blindsided by a lot of other things. So thank for sharing all those insights. And I would love to have you back on the show. Thank you.

Danny Allan: Well, thank you. It was a pleasure being on, and it’s exciting to see what’s coming in the industry.

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