Veritas exec gives lowdown on Alta cloud data management platform

The newly announced Alta cloud-based software from Veritas combines the company’s entire cloud services and solutions portfolio to create a cloud data management platform that oversees and manages a customer’s data estate.

Lawrence Wong, Veritas
Lawrence Wong

We caught up with SVP and chief strategy officer Lawrence Wong to ask about the latest addition to its product line.

Blocks & Files: Veritas says the Alta View management console “provides a unified view and control of the entire data estate – across edge, datacenter, and cloud – from a single pane of glass.” If we take that literally, it includes data in every conceivable digital location: databases, data warehouses, data lakes, mainframes, IBM Power servers, all SaaS applications, backup repositories, archives, etc. I’m skeptical. Can Veritas list the data sources in “the entire data estate” that Alta View can see?

Lawrence Wong: That’s a valid point – we’re talking here about the combination of the “entire Veritas data estate”, plus the data that we can see or act upon “outside” of the Veritas estate. Alta View is underpinned by technology from our IT Analytics engine, which empowers customers subscribing to our higher tiers of service to monitor and view their data both inside and outside of the Veritas estate. Using Veritas Alta View, organizations can track their consumption and billing patterns of network, storage and compute within their tenant of the CSP (Azure and AWS), as well as receiving similar analytics and insight into traditional on-premises storage systems. Veritas Alta View supports a number of third-party data protection vendors as well as several on-premises storage systems, and has a standard interface for non-natively supported platforms which can be used to ingest a target source of data. 

Alta View will initially be available to customers via early access in December 2022, with a GA targeted for Q1 CY2023. It will be delivered as a service and will provide a unified console for multi-domain management of all NetBackup domains, including domains on-premises, in the cloud and across multi-clouds. All NetBackup workloads, appliances, and data repositories will be supported. It will provide a single pane of glass for global job and policy management, critical event notifications, host deployments, and more – ultimately simplifying daily operations across the data protection estate. As we’ve said, the Veritas IT Analytics engine is integrated into Alta View for both the Veritas data estate and targets outside of the Veritas data estate. These capabilities will be available in the first release. 

Blocks & Files: CEO Greg Hughes said: “Veritas Alta advances our mission to empower customers to own and control their data no matter where it resides – on-prem or in the cloud – while reducing the operational complexity and costs associated with managing multi-cloud environments.” Again, taken literally, this applies to all of a customer’s data. Is that true? If not, then exactly what data possessed by customers can Alta be applied to so that it can reduce operational complexity and costs in multi-cloud environments?

Lawrence Wong: As Greg indicated, it is very much our mission at Veritas to help our customers gain control over their data – ensuring protection, eliminating vulnerabilities, maintaining availability, gaining insight, and enabling compliance with regulatory policies.

For protection of multi-cloud environments, we do this in a number of ways.  Our cloud autoscaling, delivered with Veritas’s cloud-native architecture (Cloud Scale Technology) optimizes compute resources in the cloud. The combination of our cloud intelligent policies, automated backup from snapshots, as well as our improved and highly efficient deduplication, ensure that data is stored in the most cost-effective way, in the cloud tier of the customer’s choice.

When it comes to operational resiliency, Veritas Alta empowers customers to move data simply across multi-cloud environments. This enables them to escape the complexity and cost associated with vendor lock-in. For example, with Veritas Alta, it is easy to fail over to alternative CSPs, even in different geographies. Customers can also maintain high-performance while migrating to lower-cost storage than using CSP-defined tiers.

Veritas Alta can also identify and retire stale or orphaned data across a customer’s cloud environment, and reclaim unused infrastructure, automatically classify data such as PII (Personally Identifiable Information), identify security risks, monitor communications, and perform eDiscovery across over 120 content sources, both on-premises or in the cloud. 

Customers using Alta analytics can also view and analyze their cloud resource consumption from storage to compute to ensure they operate with optimal efficiency.  

All of these capabilities help reduce customers’ costs, risks, and potential regulatory exposure, and all of them are part of our Alta platform moving forward.

Blocks & Files: In what way does Alta have “unmatched ransomware resiliency”? I would have thought any supplier with immutable backup stores and granular recovery would match Alta. And ones offering ransomware recovery guarantees could more than match Alta?

Lawrence Wong: While many competitors offer immutability capabilities, that does not mean they are always able to recover from an attack. Veritas has an 100 percent ransomware recovery rate, albeit this is not something we promote aggressively in our marketing, but rather we share it directly with customers in our engagements – and, of course, we shared it privately with you during our IT Press Tour briefing. The reason for this is that we feel this is something our customers care deeply about and, were we to we tout broadly, for example, in a press release, we would essentially just be painting a bullseye on our back. 

Regarding the Ransomware Guarantee comment, we have found in our conversations with customers that they care more about delivering ransomware resiliency than they do marketing gimmicks such as ransomware guarantees that typically prove to be riddled with disclaimers/caveats. Our focus here remains on delivering on what our customers NEED so that they can focus on getting back to business.

With that 100 percent recovery rate under our belt, we also think that it’s time to move the conversation on. Ransomware resiliency shouldn’t be a binary metric where you either do or don’t get your data back. Instead, we’re focused on making the process of bouncing back as fast and as simple as possible for our customers. Imagine if airlines were claiming that every flight eventually got to its destination with all the passengers still onboard? That’s the level that many of these ransomware “guarantees” pitch themselves. 

Customers using competitive products are coming to us saying, “we can recover 2TB per hour today – which is great, but we have 400TB of critical infrastructure to restore and can’t be down for 200 hours.”

Veritas is solving this challenge for customers with features like:

  • Scalable Instant Access 
  • Parallel streaming to restore large databases more quickly
  • Server elasticity to burst on restores

We believe that these issues are going to be a growing concern for businesses that haven’t standardized on Veritas for their data management. Staying ahead of these challenges is a huge focus for us, and will remain so going forward … as we continue to deliver against this in our product capabilities.

Blocks & FilesOur understanding is that Alta represents a bundling and integration of existing Veritas cloud-based products such as:

  • Enterprise SaaS archiving, eDiscovery and Supervision platform
  • Merge1 to capture and archive high-risk data across all communication platforms
  • Advanced eDiscovery
  • Veritas Advanced Supervision – compliance framework for capturing content in regulated communications through Merge1 integration

Lawrence Wong: Veritas Alta is much more than bundling of our existing product set. It’s about delivering a cohesive multi-cloud platform for our customers. Alta will provide a single place to interact with all of our cloud-first services from our protection, application resiliency and compliance portfolios. It also includes new services, such as Veritas Alta View.

The services you mention in your question are all from our compliance and governance portfolio. Through Veritas Alta Data Compliance and Governance, one of the pillars under Alta, we can now deliver integrated support for organizations that want to adopt an “as-a-Service” approach to their data capture, archiving, surveillance, and discovery.  It is worth noting that our Alta Data Compliance and Governance SaaS product has more features and capabilities than its corresponding on-premises standalone software versions (for example, Enterprise Vault, Merge1, etc.).

Blocks & Files: Is the Alta in-cloud backup capability a new cloud-native data protection product written by Veritas or is it an implementation of NetBackup or BackupExec in the cloud?

Lawrence Wong: Alta Data Protection is powered by Cloud Scale Technology, Veritas’s cloud-native architecture that also underpins NetBackup. Specifically, this is a Kubernetes microservices-based architecture and deployment of NetBackup that runs in AKS and EKS. We debuted Cloud Scale Technology in NetBackup 10 and continue to evolve it in each release. Alta Data Protection is available to customers with a choice of consumption model – as a customer-managed software deployment, and with selected workloads, as SaaS today. We will be releasing additional workloads that can be consumed as SaaS when we formally launch our full Backup-as-a-Service offering later this year.

Everything in Veritas Alta Data Protection is based on what NetBackup already supports, extending our 30 years of enterprise-class experience and hardened capabilities to the cloud.