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Exclusive interview: Commvault on GDPR, data analytics & virtualization

By Julia Gabel
Thu 16 Nov 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Commvault is a humble company, says the organization’s vice president and managing director of Australia and New Zealand, Dan Kieran.

And that was made clear at the company’s annual customer event in Maryland; a quality especially prevalent in the company’s CEO Bob Hammer, who strolled casually in and out of Asia Pacific reception on the event’s opening night.

“Our CIO, CEO and everybody within the organisation is very accessible and they want to come and meet people. Bob will come into a room and talk to people and you won’t know he’s in the room,” says Kieran.

“That humble confidence resonates throughout the company. It comes from never making an acquisition – 21 years and we’ve never made an acquisition. That’s a very tight, family-feel culture.”

Kieran sat down with Techday at the event to discuss virtualization in Australia and New Zealand, GDPR compliance, and how the company is helping top Universities attract top researchers.  

Australia and New Zealand – Asia Pacific’s virtualization leaders

“Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) is our largest market in Asia Pacific, and where Commvault started eleven years ago. At that time, we started with traditional, on-premises backup.”

“ANZ is one of the most virtualized regions in the world, and ss a result, when cloud came along, shifting virtual workloads was easy.”

But with that, adds Kieran, comes firstly, how do I shift it - because it’s not as easy as turning something off and moving it, there are all the things that connect into the application and database.

“We have the capability to take a complete virtual instance and migrate it to the cloud; whether that’s a private or public cloud. And then, from a cloud to cloud. Once it’s there, we have the ability to protect it. We are a very natural fit [for the region].”

“It became a very logical platform for people who were multi location, multi data center, multi cloud.”

“We continue to grow the cloud suppliers we support, such as Google Cloud, and Oracle, Azure, AWS – probably north of 20% of my business comes from service providers that are cloud orientated.”

The great cloud challenge: Migrating a Government

“A prime example is the Government of New Zealand, which came up with a cloud-first initiative. Cloud-first doesn’t mean that they won’t have on-premises, but it does mean that they need to look at how they migrate their workloads to the cloud.”

“The Government can’t turn off for a week while they migrate the workloads – so how do they do that in a run time?”

“What Revera has been successful in doing is using the Commvault Data Platform – with that, we’re protecting your information, we’ll make a secondary copy on the far site, we’ll put on a performant system so we can stand it up and the change over window will be very short.”

Kiwis and GDPR: Ready and waiting or heads in the sand?

When you talk about GDPR in New Zealand, there’s an assumption it will only impact the major, international Kiwi companies that are working with any kind of a customer or end user in Europe.

“Well, if you have a European customer coming to New Zealand, their data comes with them – you’re now exposed to that function,” explains Kieran.  

“And it’s an odd conversation. Typically, the legal team doesn’t sit with the IT department.”

The conversation of GDPR compliance is bringing together lawyers and IT representatives – and the two perspectives on compliance are vastly different.

“To the IT people we ask: ‘Are you interested in GDPR?’”

“They go, no not really, it’s not something we’re hearing. But, when we sit with the legal team, they say they are very concerned about it. But they hadn’t thought about how to engage with the IT department to make that happen."

“What we can do is come in and open that dialogue.”

And once the conversation has kicked off, this is where Commvault’s Data Analytics Portfolio and capabilities come into play.

With this offering, Commvault it helping customers understand what data they have and meet GDPR requirements regarding the collection, storage, archive and handling of personal data.

Kieran adds, “We are using secondary copies of the data to make it searchable.”

“You need a secondary copy of your data – better known as your archive or back up copy. And we can do the search on that so there is no risk of writing over data. So, the cost implementation is significantly lower; instead of purchasing a dedicated platform and copying your information to it, search is built into our platform.”

With the platform, Kieran continues, Commvault can bring all these departments together to use the same data.

“Marketing has a budget, sales has a budget, and IT has a budget. It’s about getting those people in the same room and bringing those budgets together.”

“We bring them together and they kick it off.”

Moreover, what’s interesting, as Kieran explains, is the potential uses of this Search function for fraud detection.

“Here’s a thought of where this could be used, and currently they do it on submission. When you submit an assignment [at University] it takes it and compares size, notes, content etc.”

“But as a way of going over the past ten years of submissions and emails, and be able to look at what people have said between them – what’s the content? It’s another use. It’s content review. There’s a lot of interesting uses.”

Attracting Australia’s top researchers with data management

Commvault partners with a number of Universities in Australia, including one of the nation’s top schools, The University of Melbourne.  

“A world class university comes with world class data challenges,” states Kieran.

“Melbourne University has a large depository of data but also they have a very interesting set up in how they are structure inside the business between the CIOs office and what would be their customers: the researchers within each faculty.”

“The university wants to attract top researchers. Top researchers are attracted by top facilities, by how easy is it for them to do what they want to do, how creative are the people around them, and how much freedom do they have.”

“Freedom before used to be – I’ve got money, I want to have my data and a system that sits under my desk and I can turn it on and I can turn it off and I can manage it.”

“In the new cloud world, it’s becoming – can you manage that for me and how can you help me get the most value from my data?”

“Universities have set ways of doing things. When researchers come to them they say – if you would like to align with how we do things, which is best practice, then we will assist you in managing your data.”

By giving the University a platform to do all the custodial duties of data, and off loading that from the researchers to the CIO department allows the researchers to focus on the use of their data.

“The University is creating a world class facility for researchers by delivering that functionality to them, which, as a researcher, that value add of the University assisting you with your data requirements – that’s a major plus.”

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