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VMblog Expert Interview: David Richards of WANdisco Talks LiveData Platform on Azure, Microsoft Partnership, and Overcoming Obstacles to Moving Data to the Cloud

interview wandisco david richards 

WANdisco has announced a limited public preview of WANdisco LiveData Platform for Azure, a new service offering being made available to Microsoft Azure exclusively.  To find out more about this and their partnership with Microsoft, VMblog spoke with David Richards, the president, CEO and co-founder of WANdisco.

VMblog:  How did the partnership with Microsoft get started on what would become the LiveData Platform?

David Richards:  WANdisco has some foundational IP at the heart of the business and when we realized that it could be an important ingredient to a generational shift to cloud computing, we also realized that we could not be successful without being built into the fabric of the cloud. To us, that meant working with either AWS or Microsoft, and we started out by building a co-sell relationship with both cloud hyper scalers.

In 2018 we worked jointly with Daimler, who were looking to move data at scale to the cloud without disruption. Having attempted other routes which did not meet the requirements, they engaged with WANdisco, having been pointed in our direction with Microsoft. Using our software, Daimler was successfully able to move mission critical data to the cloud. This drove Microsoft and us together and began discussions on how we could work more closely together. This ultimately led to discussions as to how Microsoft wanted to embed the core technology into their cloud. This was not a simple decision as this would be the first time Microsoft would create a service with third party technology and would require tight collaboration between both parties.

VMblog:  What are the main benefits that Azure users gain with this new service?

Richards:  LiveData Platform helps by giving Azure users the capacity to migrate data to the Azure cloud without business disruption while minimizing the impact on IT resources, and allowing the business to quickly take advantage of cloud AI/machine learning capabilities. As part of this new platform, LiveData Migrator and LiveData Plane automate active-active data plane consistency at scale between on-premises big data Hadoop environments and Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2. There is no downtime, data loss, or data inconsistencies to automate the initial bootstrapping with a one-time scan. Leveraging WANdisco's patented consensus engine, LiveData Plane for Azure ensures that all creates, updates, and deletes are immediately captured and kept consistent across environments.

Even while migration is happening, business-critical systems continue to operate. It used to be the case that the cloud vendors adopted an application first approach. That's the wrong way around: enterprises should first move the data and then rebuild application infrastructure.

VMblog:  What challenges does WANdisco's technology address for companies who want to move their data to the cloud?

Richards:  Previous generations of cloud migration tech required costly and risky multiple passes to migrate data. This could take three to six months to work, and block users from making changes during the entire period. Enterprises can't afford to shut down even a fraction of their business during migration. WANdisco's non-blocking technology enables seamless migration of petabytes of unstructured data from on-premise data centers to any cloud vendor in one pass. Even as data is moving to the cloud, applications continue to access the existing on-prem environment, while users can choose to direct new workloads or queries at cloud assets. On-premises data is automatically kept consistent with migrated cloud-based data - forming a hybrid cloud environment - while still complying with strict availability and performance service level agreements.

VMblog:  What are the main obstacles that get in the way of companies that want to move their data to the cloud?

Richards:  Migrating petabytes of on-premises Hadoop data that is under active change presents several obstacles. Migrating large data volumes by using custom scripts or other open source tools, such as DistCp, requires disrupting the operation of on-premises applications.  Administrators who choose incremental migration strategies that bring data sets to the cloud over many months, face handling disruptive updates and incur the risk of not meeting their enterprise SLAs. In addition, large data sets that are being modified or created during migration are not catered for with legacy DistCp or batch/copy-based migration approaches. These approaches require applications to be brought down during migration, or require manual reconciliation, which at scale is costly and does not guarantee completely consistent data outcomes.  The overhead required when attempting to achieve non-disruptive, no-downtime big data migration is significant due to repeated scans with the deployment, configuration, and management of those tools being complex, time-consuming and costly.

VMblog:  What are the main reasons that enterprises are looking to move their data to the cloud?

Richards:  Business survival now depends on digital transformation, including bringing exabytes of constantly changing, business-critical data to work in the cloud to cut costs, while modernizing data and applications to stay competitive. By moving data to the cloud, assets are more secure, costs are reduced and most importantly, it enables faster adoption of machine learning and AI to develop a modern data analytics infrastructure as provided by Spark to gain business insights and better compete in a data-driven world.

It is just not realistic for companies to procure costly CPU infrastructure to run large-scale, complex compute algorithms that may only be used a few times a month. These are use cases that can only happen in the cloud, and we have seen some of the world's largest companies move to a cloud-first strategy and avoid using CPU infrastructures.

VMblog:  Finally, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected companies' motivation to move their data to the cloud?

Richards:  If anything, we're finding that companies' interest in moving data to the cloud has increased over the course of the pandemic. Enterprises are realizing that the benefits of moving to the cloud are instrumental to having operations move smoothly and efficiently during this time of uncertainty and disruption.

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Published Monday, June 01, 2020 7:40 AM by David Marshall
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