Data Protection as a Service with Druva

My first experience with Druva was a number of years back when a customer purchased their product to backup all of the laptops for their remote workers. This customer had a lot of employees that were traveling all over the world and doing much of their work from hotels, airports, and various remote offices. While they used traditional data protection services for the enterprise data stored within their co-location, they still had a lot of valuable information stored on endpoints that could be anywhere at anytime. That “roaming” data needed to be protected as well, and that is where Druva fit in.

Fast forward to 2019 and Tech Field Day 19. I was excited to see Druva listed as one of the presenters and curious to see what they had in store for us. Coincidentally, I also have a new job, and a new work provided laptop that has Druva installed on it. I hadn’t had any hands on experience with Druva since working with the customer noted above, so I was curious to see what was behind the curtains. Clicking on my Druva shortcut brought me to a web based restore client which not only showed a list of my laptop snapshots in a clean, easy to use UI, but I also noticed the ability to restore from both Exchange Online and OneDrive. I figured the TFD19 presentation would touch on this, but was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a lot more to Druva than I had been aware of.

More than just endpoints

My past history with Druva led me to believe they were mainly focused on protecting user endpoints, but their presentation proved that things have changed. Druva currently has a holistic data protection approach that provides for the backup of not just endpoints, but data center workloads and a variety of SaaS offerings as well. The very interesting thing about the Druva platform is that it is built within AWS and delivered as a service. There is no need to drop a hardware appliance within your data center or design your environment to implement a software suite. Druva can protect all of your data using a similar SaaS model that many organizations are moving towards for their business critical applications.

Looking at the platform that was presented to us at TFD19, Druva is capable of protecting data on endpoints, within data centers and running in both AWS and other SaaS applications. From a data center perspective, Druva Phoenix is capable of protecting workloads running in VMware, Hyper-V and AHV, as well as NAS, databases and also VMC on AWS. Protecting something like a VMware environment is as simple as downloading and deploying a virtual proxy, which enables the service to begin protecting on-prem workloads within minutes.

Druva CloudRanger is the service that is capable of protecting native AWS infrastructure workloads running in EC2 and EBS, AWS databases such as RDS, Dynamo DB and Aurora, as well as other cloud hosted databases like MySQL and Oracle.

Druva inSync is the original service to protect endpoints, but has also been expanded to include cloud applications like Office 365, Box, G Suite and Salesforce. Each one of Druva’s offerings is available as a service to customers, and every service that is being consumed is available from the dashboard within the Druva console, which gives a clean looking overview of the entire data protection ecosystem.

Built from the cloud up

Data protection is extremely important, and there are already many players in the field that are capable of doing most, if not all of the same things mentioned above. One of the things that differentiates Druva is their as a service model for the platform itself. From day one, Druva decided to build the platform within AWS to take advantage of the scalability, performance and availability that AWS inherently provides. By taking all of those considerations off the backs of customers, Druva is truly enabling customers to easily consume data protection in whichever fashion suits their business needs, requiring just some basic configuration steps.

The Druva platform utilizes EC2 auto scaling to provide the compute necessary to run the platform, RDS to store configurations such as backup schedules, and what they claim is their secret sauce in DynamoDB to store the metadata that contains the backup history and dedupe indexes. S3 is used to store backup files themselves, with the ability to tier into Glacier for long term archival. This allows Druva to scale their solution on demand depending on load, so that customer’s only need to sign up, connect their infrastructure and start paying based on the resources they consume within the Druva platform. This solution is also available in every region that AWS offers, so customers have a wide variety of options for data locality.

There is also a CloudCache that can be deployed on-premises for keeping some data close to the source to help with faster restores. Another big issue that many customers face when backing up data to the cloud is the initial seeding of that data. Backing up changed data every handful of hours is a piece of cake compared to trying to seed tens of TB’s worth of data all at once. Druva addresses this problem by providing access to AWS Snowball Edge directly within their console, which allows a customer request a device that will be delivered to them and packaged with everything they need to seed their data on site and then send back to AWS for ingestion into their slice of the Druva cloud.

One newer service that Druva also provides is disaster recovery in the cloud. The really interesting thing about this functionality is that with Druva data protection, your data is already in AWS. The DRaaS component has the capability of converting your existing VMs into EC2 instances and running them within AWS, but the heavy lifting of getting your data there has already been completed. This service is rather new, so there is a little to be desired in fully featured functionality and APIs, but it will be interesting to see how it develops moving forward.

virtualBonzo’s take

I was impressed with the technology that Druva presented at Tech Field Day 19. It was a lot different than I had originally expected based on my previous interactions with their product. Since then, I’ve had a lot of exposure to other data protection platforms and have been able to see the strengths and weaknesses in a lot of them.

Druva’s cloud model for data protection is definitely very intriguing. The ability to consume a service and only pay for what you use makes it very easy to to deploy, versus traditional models of a long services engagement or upfront cost for expensive hardware. I’d imagine that could be a good way to get some quick and easy POCs out the door.

The real test for longevity will be in the performance of the product itself. Everything we saw looked very appealing, from the simplicity of the dashboard to the configuration of different services. To this point, I have not personally had the opportunity to test Druva Phoenix or CloudRanger, nor have I worked with any customers that use the services. One thing I’m curious about, is how well does this solution perform for large private cloud environments? I’ve seen other data protection solutions that are typically fairly easy to use become rather cumbersome at scale. There is usually a lot of work that needs to be done to design the solution properly so that it performs as expected. I asked this question during the presentation, and the answer was very similar to the description of the rest of that platform in that it is built to scale and works great for their customers. It is great to hear that it works, but do you need extra proxies to get there? Does it all come down to your connectivity to AWS at that point, where say implementing a 10 GB Direct Connect is all you need to solve your performance issues?

I’m not sure the answers to those specific questions, but I’m sure there are other customers that do. Druva flashed a lot of big logos to us, and I’d assume that if their product didn’t work as advertised, many of those logos would disappear pretty quickly. On top of that, Druva recently announced a big round of funding as well as an acquisition of CloudLanes, which will only increase their visibility in the data protection space for the near future. If the rest of their data protection portfolio can mature as well as Druva inSync has, they will certainly be a very interesting player to watch in this cloud era of Enterprise IT.

Disclaimer: I was invited by Gestalt IT to participate as a delegate for this Tech Field Day presentation. While my travel and accommodations were paid for by Gestalt IT, I was in no way compensated for this blog post.  I was not obligated by anyone to post about any of the presentations that occurred during Tech Field Day.  Any blog posts, tweets or other content related to my time at Tech Field Day are my own views for the sole purpose of creating consumable content.

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