AWS Startups Blog

Reimagining Data Protection with SaaS Startup Druva

Full sized image of the Druva team at reinvent 2019 under their booth

Guest post by Milind Borate, CTO & Co-Founder, Druva 

The Early Days of Backup and Restore

Druva was born in 2007 when Jaspreet Singh, Ramani Kothandaraman and I came together with the thought of disrupting the data protection market. Data protection solutions had become cumbersome to deploy and manage. Backup software packages ran in Gigabytes, would take months to deploy, and administrators had to sit in a month-long training before they could start managing it. More often than not, you faced issues when you tried to restore data that was backed up months ago.

We wanted to change all that. To begin with, we decided to focus on laptop backup, which led to the creation of inSync, an endpoint data protection product. We had realized that more and more business critical data was being stored on laptops and existing data protection solutions did not cater well to laptop data. Based on our background at Veritas and our own industry observations we decided to focus on a small part of the entire data protection problem. This focus helped us build a compelling solution; we optimized our design for low network bandwidth, intermittent network connection, and lower processing power; problems unique to laptop backup.

We designed inSync’s user interface from the perspective of simplicity: simple to download, setup and run in minutes.  This was critical because mobile workers do not have ready access to IT support. We did not realize it at the time, but this simplicity led to more self-service trials, which accelerated the sales cycle.

A New Kind of IT Tech Buyer

The rise of the internet triggered a change in the purchasing process.  The accessibility and cost efficiency of a digital world enabled us to reach potential buyers without the costs of traditional marketing events. The internet allowed prospective buyers to research products independently, before talking with a sales representative. Druva took advantage of this shift in behavior by using the web to drive awareness and grew sales quickly with a digitally powered self-service business model.

Customer Needs Dictated a SaaS Solution

At its inception, Druva inSync was designed to be run on-premise, behind a corporate firewall. Yet a substantial part of our revenue came from managed service providers (MSPs), who needed a SaaS version to meet their customer demands. Druva had two options to fulfill their needs:  a) we could setup and maintain a data center to host the SaaS platform ourselves, or b) we could use the public cloud.

By this time, it was late 2011 and we saw AWS becoming more mature as a cloud services platform. It had become commonplace to go to AWS to launch instances in under 10 minutes, a feature that was unheard of in pre-existing architectures.  After a couple of strategic roadmap discussions with Werner Vogels, Amazon’s CTO, combined with AWS’ focus on Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partners; we were convinced that AWS was the best platform to build a SaaS version of inSync.

A Cloud-native Design for User Data Protection and Management

Layering inSync on top of AWS allowed us to serve both the smallest customers with only a few terabytes of data, up to the largest of Fortune 10 companies storing tens of petabytes. This scalability is provided by the dynamic scaling of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). Rather than build our own distributed database for deduplication, our global source level deduplication works with Amazon DynamoDB to store our hash table completing over a million looks-up every second.

Our decision to implement inSync SaaS on AWS helped us grow our business in different ways:

●      We catered to the data residency requirements of our international customers with AWS presence in different regions.

●      As the user data started moving to SaaS apps such as Office 365 and GSuite, we continued to provide our customers with seamless data protection for all their user data.

●      We partnered with other SaaS vendors to solve use cases like eDiscovery using data backed up by inSync.

As an effect, inSync evolved to become a complete user data management SaaS offering.

AWS Enabled Druva to Reinvent Data Protection

The success of inSync as a cloud-native solution guided our path into our next product – Druva Phoenix, for server backup and disaster recovery. It was designed to leverage the same AWS for deduplication, configuration and scaling of compute and storage resources.

Druva Phoenix delivers a 50% reduction in TCO for our customers with the use of cloud-native technology. A typical D-D-T (disk-to-disk-to-tape) on-premises data protection solution involves hardware procurement, maintenance, space management, power requirements, offsite capability, and administrative bandwidth to manage all of it. With SaaS, all of it is transparently managed with Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) and Amazon S3 Glacier in the backend.

Apart from server data protection, Phoenix solves the Disaster Recovery (DR) problem for our enterprise customers in an innovative way. Over the past 15 years, data centers have undergone considerable transformations from virtualization to becoming software-defined. Data centers were transforming but DR remained with a legacy model that required a duplicate data center in another geographic location to failover operations when a disaster was declared.  As you can imagine, the cost of building and maintaining a second data center just for DR was a price that only Fortune 100 companies could afford. Smaller companies frequently decided to “roll the dice” and hope that they don’t hit by any disasters. We provide a much simpler DR solution by using the backup copy of the data to bring up Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances corresponding to virtual machines in the failed data center. With Druva’s server backup and disaster recovery, there is no need to build and maintain a second data center for DR anymore.

Going Beyond Data Protection

Data is the lifeblood of any organization, and backup data is a rich storeroom of information.  Thus at Druva, we are dedicated to delivering new innovations for the evolving needs of business and we continuously develop new features to help customers unlock the value of their backup data.

For example, we centralize data from multiple sources into a single data pool for each customer. The ability to centralize multiple data sources into a single pool also allows us to manage data across endpoints, servers, SaaS applications, cloud and AWS. This also creates the perfect environment for advanced functions such as federated search, eDiscovery for legal hold and analytics and storage analytics which are additional functionality we offer beyond basic backup and recovery.

Druva pivoted to the cloud because we believed that a cloud architecture based on AWS was the most effective solution to the problem of scalable, cost-effective data protection and disaster recovery. As businesses adopt more SaaS applications in the cloud, it is no surprise that today 87% of enterprises also see cloud as a strategic component to their data protection strategy for backup/restore and disaster recovery.