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Exclusive Interview With Piyush Mehta, CEO, Data Dynamics

He anticipates momentum for StorageX boosted by coming Infintus acquisition

Piyush Mehta is current CEO of Data Dynamics since 2012, an was formerly CEO of SANpulse Technologies from 2006 to 2012 and, before that  CEO of Integration International Inc. from 1998 to 2006. We sat with him during NetApp Insight 2019 for an exclusive interview about him, the company, the product and the market.

 

StoragenewsLetter.com: Data Dynamics exists for many years with different periods as an independent company then at Brocade, could you update us on the current entity with elements of the past?
StorageX has a strong lineage and we are proud to carry the mantel since our inception eight years ago. The one consistent theme across NuView, Brocade and Data Dynamics is the commitment by our customers for StorageX. Throughout its past and present, customers value the features, functionality and scalability that StorageX offers. We acquired the IP from Brocade 8 years ago and since then the product has evolved quite significantly, adding metadata analytics, archive and support for S3 and huge functionality to the policy based data movement engine. Leveraging API’s we’ve made StorageX part of a broader infrastructure and DevOps framework rather than just a standalone software product. This gives our customers tremendous value in how they can leverage StorageX and its capabilities.

Mehta: What is the current financial situation of the company? Funding and revenues? Is the company profitable?
I am pleased to share that Data Dynamics is profitable and our sales and EBITDA continue to deliver ahead of plan. We expect this year’s sales growth to be north of 80% of last year with EBITDA margins well about projections thanks to a great team efficiently managing and executing across all aspects of our business. What’s rare about us is that we took at initial round of funding at inception and then have organically been able to grow the business. We focused on customer acquisition and sales rather than focusing on rounds of funding. This has allowed us to be diligent and smart about our investments and ensure every aspect of our business has a single mantra…’customer first’.

What are the problems you address? What is the perfect fit?
Data is the most precious asset in any organization. Data is considered to be the ‘new oil’. Like oil, data in its crude format brings limited value, the refinement of that data is an integral part of extracting value and that is exactly what StorageX (our award-winning management platform) does!

Enterprises face a daunting task of large swathes of unstructured data that is growing exponentially. This creates challenges across multiple fronts, from compliance to infrastructure costs. Compliance issues such as access, ownership and content information are all areas that create risk and exposure for organizations. Manual processes, usually scripts to manage functions create inherent risks and limit organizations to manage at scale. Unit costs of storage continues to drop but the growth rate of data continues to far outweigh the lowering unit prices, thus spending on storage continues to be a large line item in a CIO’ budget. A ton of enterprises have committed to a cloud strategy but have limited means of starting the journey as they have no insight into what they have, how to get legacy workloads to a public cloud and how to ensure permission and access is maintained within the new environment.

StorageX helps customers analyze metadata so they can understand who owns it, how old it is, what is it, how much of it is there and then ties it to a policy based data movement engine that can help migrate, tier, archive, and manage the mobility of that data in a hybrid cloud environment. This enables customers to drive compliance, mitigate risk, reduce costs, and accelerate their journey and use of private and public clouds.

In addition we have announced the acquisition of a company with content analytics technology. It gives us the ability to put structure around unstructured data and garner intelligence from the data. The power of metadata, content analytics and a robust policy engine will help custodians (storage teams) and the owners (application and end users) of the data garner views and value for better decision making and creating competitive business advantages.

How do you solve these issues? What are the technologies you use? Any open source components?
Our StorageX software platform is our recipe for customer data management success! The technology has a strong foundation and is built by a best in class team of developers and quality validation engineers. Tied to this is an ecosystem of documentation, training, and support to ensure our customers are always successful and armed with everything they need to garner the greatest value out of the StorageX platform.

What are the latest key product features?
StorageX continues to provide features and functionalities that drive innovation in the data management space. Our focus is to constantly add new functionality and features that drive more value, make the product easy to use and scale. As such we have added a ton of new features helping address things such as compliance/access management within our Analytics Module. We have enhanced our data movement engine to be even more efficient and leverage means of ‘moving the packets’ in a more effective and scalable manner leveraging less resources. From a scale and ease of deployment, we can now deploy StorageX in a public/private cloud helping customers scale the platform on demand.

The acquisition of Infintus Innovations Pvt. Ltd gives us content level analytics, which is something our customers have asked to have in a single platform. This functionality truly brings tremendous value to the petabytes of unstructured data that exists and provides a variety of use cases from compliance and governance to business intelligence and creating smart data warehouses.

Any AI or ML techniques within the product? And if yes, how do you leverage these techniques to offer new features?
We are in the midst of adding AI and ML within the platform. We look at AI within our Analytics platform to become a unique value within the industry by tying several metadata characteristics and content into valuable insight. We are also developing some very cool functionality in terms of the platform in and of itself and its ability to add/reduce resources tied to machine learning. Lots of exciting features and functionality coming in our upcoming releases to continue to bring value for our customers and maintain the leadership position for StorageX in the data management space.

How do you see the current product competition in your area? How do you differentiate?
There are several companies trying to get into the field of data management space but very few have the experience of working to meet the scaling requirements of enterprise customers. Enterprises today require software platforms that provide broad sets of functionality and yet can scale to meet their requirements. StorageX has been deployed in 26 of the Fortune 100 therefore we understand scale, complexity and the requirements that come with managing tens/hundreds of petabytes of data across a global footprint. In addition, most of the competitors that are private are focused on raising rounds of capital rather than trying to build a ‘true business’ that generates revenue and can be self sufficient. The risk with this constant fund raising model is evident by the challenges faces by companies such as WeWork, Uber and Lyft. You can only lose so much money before the doors need to shut! Competitors that are public companies move at a snails pace and are not able to deliver with the nimbleness that we offer. We turn around features and functionality far faster and more effectively than large companies with tons of bureaucracy.

The robust features within StorageX, the addition of the content level analytics tied to our fantastic customer service, from presales and training to post sales customer support truly make Data Dynamics and StorageX stand out against the competition.

How does Data Dynamics embrace Cloud?
StorageX embraces the cloud, public/private and actually helps accelerate the journey of enterprises to the public cloud. Our ability to be deployed in a hybrid cloud architecture is our first step into providing a SaaS -ased model that can eventually be deployed in a hybrid model or fully in the public cloud and used on demand. A data platform needs to be one that embraces, manages, secures and extracts value from the data regardless of location. That is what we do and are doing with StorageX! We believe that most large enterprises will adopt a hybrid model and as such having knowledge of and access to data where and when you want it becomes essential. Our Analytics and content platforms answer the question of ‘knowing your data’ and our Migration, Archive and Replication Modules address the ability to ‘access data when and where you want it’.

Do you provide NAS migration, I mean move data from 1 “old” NAS to a “new” one and switch the service? Do you see demand for such service?
Data mobility in and of itself is physics. The challenge is around planning, design, management, and initiating the physical movement in an efficient and scalable manner whilst making sure that the security/permissions and all associated meta data is copied correctly. Enterprises are continually moving data whether it be for hardware refresh, data center consolidations, or a migration to the cloud. Our StorageX platform automates this process and has supported the movement of hundreds of petabytes over the past 7+ years. StorageX has API integration into leading vendors to help automate the creation and provisioning of the containers as well as managing the entire movement and notification processes. StorageX is extremely robust and can move from nay to any NAS or hyperconverged platform.

What about tiering or HSM?
StorageX can provide the ability to tier data from file to file and file to object. We as a company made a conscious decision that the data should always be owned by the customer, and as such, we should never hold them ransom by creating a proprietary obfuscation layer that is in the data path and abstracts physical from logical. Although this transparency creates a ‘hard’ move, it meets compliance requirements in knowing exactly where data resides and whether that data has PII or other information. Couple of our competitors tout being able to abstract physical from logical via stubbing, proprietary pointers, or sharding but anyone that’s lived through ever removing these abstraction layers from an environment know the nightmare and challenges that come with it. StorageX can move data tied to a policy engine that can be based on meta data driven analytics. With our new content analysis we will provide data movement based on information within unstructured data. Take for example you have a file that has PII information, you may wish to move it to a ‘compliant’ location, our ability to analyze and move such files based on a policy based automation engine will bring great value to our customers.

Compliance being a hot subject right now, how do you manage GDPR and CCPA? Do you provide WORM capabilities for NAS and file servers?
We are in the process of closing on an acquisition that will give us the ability to do content level indexing and analytics. This functionality enhances the value we can bring to our customers in being a centralized data management platform that provides management of the containers in which the data resides as well as the content within it. The content level analytics will provide PII and GDPR supportability and directly address the challenge of identifying and managing privacy-based information.

We don’t provide or create our own WORM capabilities but rather rely on the source/target platforms organic ability to do this.

Your company had a strong relationship with NetApp, what is the status of this partnership?
NetApp has been a great partner both in terms of technology and go to market. We value the relationship and greatly appreciate all the support we get from them. We work closely with NetApp product teams to ensure integration between our product portfolios to drive tremendous value for our end customers. This in conjunction with NetApp’s ability to resell the StorageX platform and its respective modules creates an all-encompassing partnership.

You signed recently with Lenovo, could you share some details around this deal? Is it a reseller deal or OEM? Does it cover all the planet or only specific geos? Is it limited to some environments?
We are excited about our relationship with Lenovo and to work with their global storage sales teams. The relationship allows for Lenovo and its representatives to resell StorageX globally and will allow Data Dynamics to enter into new and emerging markets.

What about other key NAS vendors such Qumulo, Pure Storage or Dell EMC?
There are several entrenched and emerging vendors entering the storage market and as such we are constantly engaged with many of them. Our relationship with most of the emerging vendors thus far have been transactional, but we are exploring a couple of them to be more tightly integrated. In addition, we have just signed global agreements with a couple of SI’s that will expand the reach and value StorageX provides leveraging our robust software platform tied to their subject matter expertise.

Does this deal with Lenovo mean you consider only indirect sales and especially OEM? Or you also work with resellers, VARs…?
90% plus of our sales are indirect, i.e. OEM/VAR/SI thus we are extremely familiar with and open to the channel as our means to the market. We absolutely work with resellers/VARs large and small across both the United States as well as Western Europe and look to continue to expand into additional geos.

How do you charge for the product? Could you share an example based on public pricing?
StorageX platform can be procured by module, on a capacity basis tied to an annual subscription. This gives our customers ton of flexibility as they can start with a single module or the entire suite and buy capacity tied to each module based on their requirements. The economics of the automation and risk mitigation StorageX provides is a multitude of the licensing cost, empowering customers to justify the investment in managing and securing their number one asset, Data!

What are the next steps as a company but also future products directions?
As evidenced by the acquisition we are making, we are committed to be the central platform for data management, mobility and security. We will continue to enhance organically and look to leverage IP via inorganic growth where appropriate. Our commitment to ‘customer first’ and meeting their data requirements is at the forefront of our strategy. We believe we are poised to be the disruptor by providing business and infrastructure value via a central platform crossing the prisms of infrastructure, compliance and lines of business.

 

Read also:
Data Dynamics Intends to Acquire Infintus From India
For delivering analytics for data visibility, compliance and governance
October 30, 2019 | Press Release
Company Profile: Data Dynamics
Developer of StorageX, product surviving multiple companies
by Philippe Nicolas | June 20, 2019 | News