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CloudCasa Adds Cloud Awareness, Enterprise Hardening, And Self-Service Backups At KubeCon EU | Sathya Sankaran

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In this episode of Let’s Talk with Swapnil Bhartiya, we cover the new features CloudCasa by Catalogic announced at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2022 in Valencia. Sathya Sankaran, COO of Catalogic and GM of CloudCasa, says that these features focus on three key themes: expanding cloud awareness, enterprise hardening, and enabling multi-tenancy while delivering backup and recovery capability. To help address these needs, CloudCasa has added role-based access control and support for on-prem isolated object storage.

Sankaran feels that with the fast-moving ecosystem of Kubernetes, just being Kubernetes aware is not enough nowadays. Expanding the awareness to what cloud offers you and being able to synchronize the two is beneficial to Kubernetes’ two key principles, effervescence and elasticity. He discusses what this entails for developers and the benefits they will reap from this increased awareness.

“We have to recognize that most of the Kubernetes installations are running in the public cloud. Just being Kubernetes aware is not enough for Kubernetes solutions. You also have to be aware of where Kubernetes clusters are sitting and that’s predominantly cloud today,” says Sankaran.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • Sankaran discusses CloudCasa’s new features and how it is helping developers stay up-to-date with Kubernetes’ fast moving ecosystem. He explains how the new features expand developers’ awareness beyond Kubernetes awareness and explains in detail the new capabilities.
  • Talking to the cloud provider and the Kubernetes ecosystem will forge a cohesion to enable synchronization with the environmental changes as well as bringing consistency between the two. Sankaran explains the three main benefits developers will experience from cloud awareness.
  • Empowering developers to be more independent is one of the fundamental components of Kubernetes. Sankaran explains the benefits of giving developers the right tools to do self-service backup while still enabling multi-tenancy.
  • While a lot of emphasis is being placed on the data protection space, Sankaran believes that even though the market is growing, CloudCasa is the only solution running as a service. He explains why he feels their solution sets them apart from competitors and why their key offerings are unique.
  • The misconception remains that moving to cloud solves all your problems but the reality is that challenges can still occur and small and medium businesses can have a particularly difficult time to get on-board. Sankaran explains why he feels that CloudCasa is helping to democratize cloud for all sizes of businesses.

Check out more about why you should consider CloudCasa.

Connect with Sathya Sankaran (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, here at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe 2022 in Valencia. And today we have with us, once again, Sathya Sankaran, GM of CloudCasa by Catalogic. We are finally doing it in person. We have spoken so many times, so we’re different services online. First of all, it’s great to see you here.

Sathya Sankaran: Same here.

Swapnil Bhartiya: You are here at the event for a couple of days. You have seen the keynote, you have been to the sponsor booths. Tell us what kind of energy you have seen here?

Sathya Sankaran: Oh, hats off to the CNCF, putting together a great event. We are so happy to finally see the practitioners live and interact with them live and get their feedback. This conference has actually seen a lot of end users presence. And as you know, the last couple of years has been a big challenge for anybody that is putting together an event.

But for this is really the first event I felt brought people back so that we could have live face-to-face interaction with Kubernetes practitioners. And it’s so great. And I think just on day one, we actually got more people to our booth and more conversations than all of the conference in Los Angeles last year. That’s certainly fantastic as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Is it a lot more to do with, because now we are getting out of this COVID phase and companies do see a silver lining, that is also the case where you saw more interest this time?

Sathya Sankaran: Yeah. I think people are more comfortable getting out. Not everybody, certainly. We have to recognize that, but certainly, a lot more people are now more comfortable getting out and doing things. Hopefully, it’s a positive sign that we’re towards the end of this pandemic phase.

And I think we just have to recognize that a lot of people have suffered through this in various ways. But we are here, we made it through. And the conference is a great reminder of what we’ve been through the last couple of years and what we’ve missed the last couple of years as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Very well said. Now, since your folks are here, you’re not only as observing, you also made some announcements. Tell about your activities, what you are doing at them and what announcement you made.

Sathya Sankaran: Yeah. Look, we have a lot of stuff. I mean, Kubernetes is a fast moving ecosystem. Just keeping up with that ecosystem is a major task for anyone supporting Kubernetes. And we’ve got some really exciting features added to our service. The good thing of being service is it’s instantly made available to our users. They don’t have to go and upgrade and update and apply patches and so on. We don’t have to do that.

You just show up to our service one day and you can actually see all of the new features that we’ve added. There are about three key themes to our new features. One is just expanding cloud awareness and platform awareness in general. And we have to recognize that most of the Kubernetes installations are running in public cloud. Just being Kubernetes aware is not enough for Kubernetes solutions.

You also have to be aware of where that Kubernetes clusters are sitting on and that’s predominantly cloud today. Expanding that integration to primarily Microsoft AKS, we already are well integrated with AWS EKS. We are expanding that integration to Microsoft AKs service as well.

The second theme is just enterprise hardening. We released, or we got to the market as a developer friendly backup as a service, DevOps focused backup as a service player. Certainly, a lot of interesting innovation is happening at the enterprise space with Kubernetes.

And we have to recognize that Kubernetes is used by a lot of small companies that are high tech and trying to deploy everything in SaaS. And it is big on large enterprises, like retail companies, Walmarts, the Home Depots and Chick-fil-As of the world and a lot of financial organizations as well. We do have to bring our service to be closer to what the enterprises are doing as well.

To address that we’ve added a role-based access control, allowing self-service backup and recollect capabilities for enterprise customers. We’ve also are adding support for on-prem isolated object storage as well. You could back up to your own storage without having to be on the cloud. And not everybody’s comfortable with putting things in the cloud.

We have to recognize that there is the other half that wants to keep everything in-house. Even though we are a SaaS services, we are enabling people to store data locally on their own private object stores. We’re doing that. That’s the second big theme. Just getting closer to what enterprises are asking for.

And the third piece is you will see at the show again and again, that there is a lot of clusters for all happening. Everybody’s saying, “Oh, I’m running 200 clusters. I’m running 300 clusters,” and so on. The reason people run so many clusters is because there aren’t enough ecosystem around multi-tenancy for clusters. You’re not allowing a single cluster to be shared across your test teams, the QA teams and the development teams, release teams.

They’re all kind of running their own clusters. Oftentimes, that’s not what the enterprises are asking for. The third piece is about enabling that multi-tenancy and actually delivering backup and recovery capability. There is self-service in that multitenant environment. We’re all just working towards addressing this cluster sprawl issue so that you can have one big cluster that is shared by multiple teams, as opposed to having 100 clusters. And that multi-tenancy is the other piece we are addressing in this release.

Swapnil Bhartiya: I want to just go a bit detail in some point. You talked about it’s not just enough to be Kubernetes aware. You should be cloud awareness should be there, service awareness should be there, with you mentioned AKS. You mentioned Azure as well. How would you define being cloud awareness or service aware? And being aware, what benefit it actually brings to the developers or users?

Sathya Sankaran: Yeah. Great question, Swapnil. The first thing I will say about being cloud and platform aware is that remember that Kubernetes is built on two key principles. One is effervescence, which means things come in and go out.

And the temporary nature of what we do in Kubernetes is actually a very constant theme around how you use Kubernetes, because you don’t want to be having compute workloads running there when you don’t need it. And that’s what allows you to optimize your applications to work in the cloud. That’s when your bills are lower in the cloud. If you just lift it and shift it and not run it in Kubernetes, you won’t have that problem.

The second is elasticity. How do you scale when you need to compute different compute levels? A lot of what Kubernetes is about getting the most out of your investments in the cloud. Most about most out of your investments in your journey to the cloud.

That means you have to be aware of what that cloud offers to you and being able to work with it. What benefits do you get by talking to the cloud provider as well as the Kubernetes ecosystem is that one, you get consistency between the two. Whenever there are applications that are there are new clusters coming in. How do you know new clusters are coming in? Unless you can talk to the EKS or the AKS layer.

By us talking to the EKS and AKS layer, we are able to see how your environment is evolving and changing every day. And in the world of Kubernetes, that change is very common. And you don’t need a manual effort in keeping your catalog, backup catalog, consistent with what you’re seeing in the cloud. I think what you first get is being able to synchronize with your environmental changes and being able to be consistent with it.

Two, everybody in the cloud runs multiple accounts. And because they run multiple accounts, there needs to be a way to centralize all of your clusters in one place. Both AWS and Azure tells you to say, “Hey, run different accounts for production and different accounts for development.” But how does a user deal with having to back up these different assets, across different accounts? And I think that’s something that we are delivering, that centralized management of applications as well.

And the third thing, by being able to understand how a Kubernetes cluster is configured, what we are able to do is bring back that cluster the same way. We know how your cluster is configured in AKS. When you need to restore, when you need to move data from one account to another account, or one region to another region, we are able to leverage that metadata that is stored in the EKS and AKS, and use that to spin up new clusters.

The alternatives today is the customer has to have a functioning cluster configured with the right network and everything. And then install the agent and then do the restore. You’re already four hours into the process before you do the first bite transfer.

Whereas with what we do, you can actually start the restore process within five minutes of starting a restore job, because we are automatically creating the cluster. We’re automatically injecting our agent. And that is automatically starting the restore process to happen. You are getting recovery and migration through code without having to do a lot of manual work.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you also talk about once again, we are talking about the benefits that users, developers see? And also, how does it enable self-service backup? In most cases, that’s what people try to do there.

Sathya Sankaran: Yeah. Look, Kubernetes is a lot of self-empowerment. Empowering developers to be more independent and to be actually the key driver of business. There are critical services. Backup is a necessity for important workloads. If it’s important, you are backing that up.

And so, giving developers the right tools to be able to do backups of their own assets, critical assets without stepping on each other’s toes was important. What we are delivering with our back is a very granular way to compartmentalize the resources you have, so that each team or each person is only able to do what they’re allowed to do within an organization.

I think enterprises do want developers to have some guardrails on what they can do because everything is done through code. It’s so easy to make a mistake through code. Guardrails are extremely important. And I think our back is all about enabling people to do empowering people, to do what they want to do. But also having guardrails so that they don’t go run amuck across the rest of your infrastructure.

And that plays very well with the multi tenancy piece as well. Because if you are trying to share a single cluster across multiple teams, each team will be able to do their own backups and restores without having to work with the other teams.

A lot of what we are doing with our integration with Capsule and cloud stacks is enabling that multi-tenancy, allowing a single cluster to be shared across multiple teams. And allowing each of those teams to be able to do their own backups and restores without having to be able to look at other people’s data as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Thanks for answering that. Now, once again, I want to go back to the previous statement that you made in the very beginning. Was that the interest that you saw this year was much more than last time. Does that also mean that the things, the awareness about the data production in the Kubernetes space is growing?

Sathya Sankaran: Yeah.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Either is growing or, as we talked about, the people are getting comfortable. And then you can also, of course, you folks came out through Catalogic. And we talked about Kasten and Katen last time as well. Talk about what have you seen in terms of adoption of data production in the Kubernetes space and what gives you folks an edge over your, you can call it competitors or co-players?

Sathya Sankaran: Yeah. Yeah. Look, market is growing. There is a big enough ecosystem that I think all of us can certainly play a role. But what you’re seeing today at the conference is there is a lot of emphasis on data management tasks. Persistence, observability, security. These are all things that you worry about once you have something in production.

That’s really good for all the players that are in the data protection space, because that’s really what we enable. And when it comes to why CloudCasa, why us over competitive solutions out there? Look, we are the only solution that is running as a service. You don’t need more headaches in your environment by having to run a backup infrastructure.

We’re the only solution. Because we’re as a service, can actually increase your fault domain or separate your fault domains. A lot of what backup is about is insurance. When your stuff goes wrong, hopefully someone else can help you bring you back to operations. But if you’re backup agents, like what Kasten delivers is sitting on the same place as your primary cluster, when you lose your primary cluster, you also lose your Katen application. And that’s not a situation you want to be in. We are delivering a virtual air gap. Everything is running in a service. And that is great.

The third thing, we want to be proactive about protecting your data set. It’s we don’t want to be just your last line of defense. We will be your excellent last line of defense, if that is all you want us to do. But we back up everything that is critical. We are in a position to be able to see what data you are protecting and how you are configuring.

We are able to go back and see if you have configured your clusters correctly. 78% of cyber attacks happen because you’ve not configured it correctly. So many moving parts in Kubernetes. It’s difficult to harden every piece of Kubernetes layer. And so, we are enabling that so that we are giving that cyber resilience.

And lastly, we talked about cluster sprawl. Solutions like Kasten are charging based on worker nodes. Each cluster is three worker nodes by default. If you’re 100 cluster nodes, you’re paying for 300 worker nodes. But today, amount of data per worker node is really small. We are using a utility model.

You don’t have to pay for our service based on what you’re running. You have to pay for a service based on what you’re protecting. And I think these allows us to differentiate in the market and have our own lens in this ecosystem.

Swapnil Bhartiya: There’s one more thing that I want to ask quickly is that we think that once you move to cloud, all your problems are gone. And then you look at data protection or restores. All you have to do is just click on the restore, button it will restore everything. But as you said, there can be a lot that can be wrong. Especially with the adoption of cloud data technologies, we are seeing folks who are tech bohemoths. And then they’re also seeing adoption in a smaller, medium business as well.

Sathya Sankaran: Correct.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Which also means that technical skills are also different and that’s where they need help. Talk about once again, and they’re also seeing adoption of things like low-code, no-code to get people on board there. And once data is gone, it’s gone. Everything else is gone. Applications, you can bring, you can write. Talk about how you’re making it easy for them. And just also cost is also important, which you also touched upon.

Sathya Sankaran: Yeah. Look, cloud itself is all about becoming more accessible to organizations. You don’t need to have all the skill sets to run all these workloads. Cloud is just bringing technology and infrastructure more accessible to more organizations. In a way, what we are delivering, as a cloud native backup service, is about getting the backup and restore pieces, more accessible to all place. Whether it’s enterprises, let them focus on what they need to focus on. They’ve got all their applications that they need to be building.

And we are saying, “This is an essential service you have to provide. Let us do that for you.” And if it’s a small player, you’ve got no one or two or three members can be experts at everything. And it’s easy to miss important elements if it’s not delivered as a service. It is all about making technology accessible.

And that’s what we’re doing. But you have to make it accessible in a way you are not just compatible with cloud, you’re actually aware of the cloud. You want to be aware of the cloud. A lot of solutions out there are saying, “Hey, we support EKS. We support EKS. We support GKE.” But in what way?

Yes, you can support an asset that is running on AKS, EKS, GKE, but are you aware of what AKS and EKS and GKE itself is providing? And are you aware of it? Are you intelligent to use the facilities available within AKS and EKS, GKE to make that technology accessible? That’s a very important piece. And that’s how we differentiate in the market.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Sathya, once again, thank you so much for joining me today. And I am so happy to see you in person. Yesterday, When I was still touching my ear, then I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you. It’s still used to getting out of that Zoom phase. It’s really incredible to see you. And as usual, I would love to have you back on the show. Thank you.

Sathya Sankaran: Thank you, Swapnil. Thank you for having us. Sorry for losing a bit of our voice, but that just is a reflection of how many conversations we have had in the last couple of days of the show.

Swapnil Bhartiya: That’s actually a good thing. By the end of the conference, you can’t speak anymore.

Sathya Sankaran: Exactly.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Awesome. Thank you.

Sathya Sankaran: Thank you. Awesome.

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