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VMblog Expert Interview: Sathya Sankaran of Catalogic Software Announces CloudCasa™ - Kubernetes Data Protection as a Service


Catalogic Software is a developer of innovative data protection solutions.  The company is announcing CloudCasa, a Kubernetes Data Protection as a Service solution. To find out more, VMblog spoke with Sathya Sankaran, Catalogic Software's Chief Operating Officer. 


VMblog:  Why have container management platforms such as Kubernetes become such a hot topic?

Sathya Sankaran:  Containers are a natural evolution from virtual machines to a more granular and portable application environment in clouds, designed to solve problems with rapidly developing and deploying cloud-native applications. Kubernetes is the dominant platform for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications over their entire lifecycle. 

All the major public and private cloud providers and hypervisor vendors are providing managed or on-premises Kubernetes environments, including Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS), Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE)IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service, Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)Red Hat OpenShift, SUSE Rancher, and VMware Tanzu

VMblog:  What is different about data protection for cloud native vs. other enterprise applications?

Sankaran:  Cloud native applications built with Kubernetes are driving the single largest opportunity in the data protection ecosystem in recent years, given the lack of maturity, best practices, and cloud native data protection services. There is an organizational ownership issue and knowledge gap with the management of Kubernetes deployments, given that deployments are typically done by developers, while IT Operations is held accountable for enterprise data protection and compliance.

The development team must take initial responsibility for data protection to ensure consistent backup and recovery of container-based applications, given the new and different types of container and cloud native data storage, and container resources that are referred to as infrastructure as code. However, the development team has seldom had to deal with data protection solutions, and they may not fully understand the need for data protection in public clouds. We expect to see the data protection responsibility, budget and accountability remain as a shared responsibility between DevOps and IT Operations for the foreseeable future.

The big opportunity here is to provide a simple, secure, and cloud native data protection service that is so easy to use that the DevOps team will be comfortable with configuring and running the backups and so complete a solution, that IT Operations will be satisfied with using it in production to meet their SLA and compliance requirements.

VMblog:  Please explain more on the implications of serverless databases and serverless computing on data protection and disaster recovery?

Sankaran:  While the use of serverless databases and computing can speed application development and deployment, it can also substantially complicate the picture when it comes to data protection and disaster recovery. It is important to make sure that you are capturing integrated snapshots of all of your application's disparate components, regardless of whether they reside in Kubernetes or  the cloud provider's databases, and that at a minimum they are protected in separate geographies and access domains.

It is usually easy to make serverless components redundant both within and across regions, but as with other cloud-native infrastructure, it is important not to confuse redundancy with true protection and DR capability. It can also be more difficult to identify failure domains when you are using serverless components than with more traditional infrastructure.

VMblog:  Why don't container management platforms provide native data protection and disaster recovery?

Sankaran:  The container ecosystem is still relatively immature and lacking operational best practices, even for a single Kubernetes cluster, let alone for multiple clusters with hybrid, multi-cloud, or edge deployments. The new CSI specification introduced certainly helps standardize some of the data protection needs. However, cloud-native applications require a higher degree of specialized skills including for infrastructure automation that span both operational and developer toolsets.  Also, to be determined is the operational model Kubernetes deployments, including who is responsible and accountable for all of the operational aspects around data protection and disaster recovery.

Some container storage and management platforms such as PortWorx and Robin Systems do provide data protection capabilities that are bundled with their platforms. Products and services that are vendor-neutral and support multiple Kubernetes platforms and hybrid and multi-cloud environments will generally be preferred by large IT organizations. This leads us to believe that a purpose-built, multi-cloud solution for Kubernetes and cloud native applications that can be used in a shared responsibility model by both the development team and the IT Operations team is the best approach to address the new market opportunity.

VMblog:  What is the Container Storage Interface (CSI) and why is it important to data protection?

Sankaran:  The Container Storage Interface (CSI) was developed as a standard for supporting block and file storage systems in Kubernetes. Prior to having the CSI, storage systems were supported via plug-ins that were part of the core Kubernetes code, which meant that vendors had to wait for a new distribution to add support or fix a bug.  With the adoption of CSI, storage providers can add or update support for their systems in Kubernetes without ever having to touch the core Kubernetes code. This gives Kubernetes users more options for storage and makes the platform more secure and extensible.

Given data protection products rely on snapshots to efficiently creating point-in-time copies of data, a snapshot capability was added to the CSI.  Container storage systems provide the ability to create these snapshots or copies of a volume, that can then be used for backup, restore and disaster recovery. The CSI snapshot can also be used to provision new copies or replicas of a volume for additional uses cases such as application and database testing and reporting.

VMblog:  What unique technology and value does Catalogic Software bring to address this market with CloudCasa?

Sankaran:  At Catalogic we took a different approach to address this market than the platform-bundled and appliance-based backup solutions, or the approach of retrofitting container support into an existing enterprise backup product. These would have been easier for us, but we felt they wouldn't have addressed the needs of a changing user base and changing deployment models.

CloudCasa is a reimagination of enterprise cloud data protection leveraging Catalogic's proven expertise in snapshot and copy data management, and data protection across multiple storage and server platforms. CloudCasa was built in the cloud to exploit the strengths of public cloud infrastructure and Kubernetes. It provides a solution that is:
  • Cloud Scale: Horizontal auto-scaling with unlimited cloud storage at the user's disposal.
  • Cloud Secure: Always encrypted, both in transit and at rest.
  • Cloud Smart: Learns from its users to deliver insights and service optimization.
  • Cloud Mobile: Backup from and restore to both on-premises and cloud-deployed clusters. CloudCasa supports all major flavors of Kubernetes.
  • Cloud Service: Low touch and zero Infrastructure demand on the user.

CloudCasa removes the complexity of managing a backup solution, so customers can easily back up their resource data to managed object storage and manage CSI snapshots of persistent volumes.

CloudCasa can be used today by development teams to create and manage unlimited CSI snapshots, and to back up cluster metadata and container resources to our managed storage for free.  IT Operations teams will be able to transition the in-place cloud solution to production environments as a premium service that provides all the enterprise data protection and disaster recovery services that they require. This also supports an evolvable and shared responsibility and accountability model between the development team and the IT Operations team.

Get access to the CloudCasa Beta - apply here today:


Published Monday, November 16, 2020 7:35 AM by David Marshall
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