i2Coalition Member Spotlight Q&A: Jungle Disk
Jungle Disk provides data protection services to businesses using the Internet. While many companies were using tape backup, it was one of the first backup services to use cloud storage and Amazon S3, making it a much more reliable and consistent service than alternatives.
In this interview, we talk with Jungle Disk President and CEO Bret Piatt about why online data backups are so important now and why it was crucial for them to be part of the i2Coalition.
i2Coalition: Could you provide a broad overview of Jungle Disk and what specific problem it solves in the storage and backup world?
Bret Piatt: The Jungle Disk business and product offering handles secure storage and data backup, keeping a safe second copy of records for small to medium businesses all the way up through to the largest enterprises. We’ve noticed over the past few years that this is really becoming a complex area of IT with threats such as ransomware emerging. We’re seeing that even medium and larger businesses don’t have the internal specialized teams and resources required to build out proper backup and disaster recovery. This led us to acquiring the KeepItSafe, LiveVault and OffsiteDataSync businesses at the end of last year to combine all of those in with Jungle Disk.
We now have backup and disaster recovery services that can handle all of the different use cases, workloads, and recovery time objectives folks need.
In many cases a backup that takes you too long to restore is barely better than not having one at all. In regard to ransomware, oftentimes an organization will have a backup but they find out that it’s going to take two weeks for the technical team to stand up servers and restore the whole thing and they can’t shut their business down for two weeks, so they end up having to pay the ransom.
If they would have worked with a backup and disaster recovery specialist up front, we could have planned that out and known that a set of applications can’t be down for more than a half a day. And then you put together a recovery plan that allows them to be back online in that half a day for those core applications that they need to keep the business going. You not only see this inside of the business teams themselves, but also out to the managed service providers.
I think we’re going to see many MSPs looking to specialty partners that are just focused on all of the things that are going on in the backup and disaster recovery space to allow their clients and customers to be back up and online when they need to be. It’s the types of apps that they have, the way that that technology’s moving the storage location of that data around, and how applications are delivered.
i2Coalition: Restoring backups can be a very scary undertaking, especially when you’re unsure that the backup will work when it’s finally restored. I’m sure there are certain disaster scenarios like that people might have experienced but might not be particularly eager to divulge.
BP: There’s two things we see: physical media failure, and—more commonly—incomplete data restores. Physical media failure does happen, but issues from incomplete and untested backups are more common than physical media failure.
Having a backup that’s not tested means you can run into a whole whole different set of challenges. Many companies think their backup has all of their critical data and it might have when they created it, but if you haven’t tested the restores you can’t be certain. For instance, maybe the system administrators moved the location of an application on the application server, or moved some other critical data files to a new file path that’s not included in the backup.
Another scenario is that they’re backing up at the whole virtual machine and system level. In these cases, they don’t have a restore target to be able to put that whole machine back up and onto, so you’re not doing a data restore, you’re doing a whole machine restore.Then this disaster scenario occurs and there’s not always a way to be able to bring the whole machine backup to allow you to do that full machine restore.
i2Coalition: Speaking of the concept of completeness, having that assurance that everything that needs to be backed up is backed up and able to be restored must give companies more confidence when developing new applications. You’d imagine they’d be less concerned that their new feature would break things in ways that can’t be undone.
BP: I think having an application infrastructure where you’ve got the foundational set of services to allow you to provision and then to restore in the event that something is damaged, and that it allows for you to do application upgrades and feature changes as well, is important. Because, that backup can be a way for you to be able to to roll back a change without an easy and rapid restore backup. Then every time your application team is looking to release a new feature or make an update inside of the app, they have to be ready to roll back in the event that the new feature breaks something or the new code push breaks something. So if you’ve got a rapid restore clean back up, then you can deploy the new feature. If it breaks something then you just hit the restore button and you’re back up and running again and you’re running from what you know is a good, solid environment that was functioning—and because you’ve tested that back up and it can restore quickly. It saves the development team all of that time of having to build manual rollback scenarios each time.
i2Coalition: I know we probably are sick of talking about the pandemic but obviously it’s changed how a lot of people work. Have you seen this change in the backup space in regards to how people are working remotely? For instance, I’d imagine they’d have to rethink any local office servers, and then there’s also a bigger surface area for threats when people are working from their home devices and connecting over various Internet connections. What are some of the big themes that you’ve seen?
BP: Yes, you might have had a scenario where you had the office file server in a cabinet inside of the office location. If people were accessing all of that from a laptop or a desktop connected to that local network in order for that to continue to function in an environment where now everyone is working from home, it put a lot of businesses in the spot where they had to redesign their remote access solution. If you have an office with 50 employees, you might have the router and firewall that were there might support five of them being on a VPN – not all 50 of them. To deal with this, we saw some customers trying to redesign their VPN, and other people moved to a cloud storage solution.
Then you’ve got that data backup piece. Offsite backup might have been a tape backup that somebody was physically taking to a safety deposit box. These kinds of processes all broke during Covid.
Another element was that policies restricting employees from saving files locally on their computer were often relaxed or turned off. But since this wasn’t anticipated, there would not be backups of employee endpoint devices.
The pandemic really made many businesses rethink a number of their data protection and business process workflows.
i2Coalition: Obviously safety and security is core to your business. I was wondering if you could explain how you see joining the i2Coalition fitting into Jungle Disk’s values and goals?
BP: Everyone that’s familiar with the i2Coalition knows the impact it has had across the Internet infrastructure in general. As we look at all of the things that we can now do utilizing the internet, I think this is where we’re excited to see modern data backup and disaster recovery as an emerging solution.
Data backup used to involve transporting magnetic tape in armored cars. The modern way of doing it via the internet is much better, but I think there are different and unique challenges that occur when you’re making that safe second offsite copy of business applications flow across the internet. And I think that the i2cCoalition is the right way for us to come together and collaborate to build that in a safe, secure, and reliable manner for everyone out there to benefit from.