VMblog: With COVID-19, we've seen a lot of changes in the tech world. One big change has been the disruption of physical trade shows. Many, like VMworld, have become digital in 2020. What are your thoughts on digital events compared to traditional physical events?
Justin Augat: I certainly agree, there have been a lot of changes in the last 6 months. Our corporate priorities have shifted to focus on the health and safety of our employees, while ensuring uninterrupted service delivery for our customers.
While we all love our in-person trade shows, the change to digital events has enabled us to get our message out without compromising our time and resources that need to be focused on our top priorities. I think more importantly, digital has been for customers who have immediate business challenges, and want to evaluate new solutions safely/efficiently. I also think digital events, especially because many are now free of charge, have enabled providers to reach more customers than before. Increasing the audience and number of those able to attend as a whole is a big positive.
VMblog: Another change has been a shift to working from home. What are your thoughts on this, how has it changed things for your company both internally and externally?
Augat: As a company leading the industry in Disaster Recovery as a Service, iland recognized the importance of enabling our workforce to innovate and function regardless of geographical location and has been remote friendly for over a decade. So, prior to COVID, we had the technology and operational structure in place to adapt seamlessly to 100% remote. That said, we did have a large population that was accustomed to working together in the office - in the US, in the UK, etc - and we were conscientious of the mental and emotional impact on employees that were transitioning to remote. We continue to focus on this in several ways including frequent check-ins, virtual "happy hours", and a weekly "iland Friday Show" where the entire company spends time with off-work topics.
Externally, we know our customers are challenged in ways that they didn't anticipate. Our commitment to superior customer service didn't start with COVID, but it has been a test of our ability to quickly go the extra mile when needed. This includes focusing on new customer vulnerabilities (i.e. cyber threats), finding creative solutions to new problems, deploying new communication strategies, and delivering faster ways to evaluate new solutions with fewer touchpoints. Again, our customer service and support hasn't changed, it's always been part of our DNA, but we are being much more proactive with "outside- the-box" strategies than ever before.
VMblog: Can you give us the high-level rundown of your company's technology offerings?
Augat: Absolutely. Obviously, we are best-known and recognized for our disaster recovery as a service offerings, but I think what has become evident to VMware users is that we have effectively built a VMware-based cloud ecosystem. So today, we enable VMware users to host, run, protect, and recover their mission-critical applications in the cloud, with the same proven VMware technology that they are already accustomed to on-premises, along with integrated security, compliance, and data protection. This includes VMware-based public and private cloud (IaaS), backup (BaaS), backup for Microsoft 365, object storage, and of course, disaster recovery (DRaaS).
Just as important for our customers who want a true cloud partner, we have developed a professional services organization that makes everything work right from the start - from planning, to migration, to full management, and support - to ensure that application and business expectations are met on day 1.
VMblog: Talking about your product solutions, can you give readers a few examples of how your offerings are unique? What are your differentiators?
Augat: You bet. Our commitment to the customer experience has really set us apart from the competition. In other words, we have found that it's not only the services you provide and the "speeds and feeds" that customers consider, but rather the entire adoption process. That is where we excel. Our differentiators can be categorized in a few ways:
- Our cloud platform was designed from the ground up to support VMware users moving to the cloud. This means proven, VMware-based technology that looks, feels, and performs like the on-premises systems our customers are protecting, or migrating from. It also means we can individualize our services to meet unique application and business needs, and provide full transparency and control down to the network level. Finally, in our pursuit of that customer experience, we manage the entire stack up to the hypervisor including security and data protection. This relieves the customer of the administrative tasks and maintenance that aren't additive to the business. In all cases, knowing the technology that delivers a service, and that the core components are managed by iland, provides confidence that application performance and availability will always meet expectations
- Our approach to platform management is fundamentally different. As above, we manage to the hypervisor level, but our Secure Cloud Console was designed to simplify the customer experience of their applications and workloads. This means that you can manage all your services from application hosting to disaster recovery from a single, unified interface. This includes performance, security, networking, and infrastructure monitoring, reporting, and scheduling. It is literally all built into the Secure Cloud Console. Plus - we are fully integrated with leading providers like Veeam and Zerto for automation and ease of use, and deliver these capabilities programmatically through an extensible API. Whatever way you want to consume your cloud service with iland, you can.
- Finally, we include all the professional services you need to get started and be successful. Planning and design, onboarding and deployment, and premium support. Again, when it is about the full customer experience, you need to look at the full cloud journey. We have spent years developing that expertise.
VMblog: For those individuals attending the VMworld 2020 digital event, or those who have attended VMworld in the past, why should they be interested in your company and solutions?
Augat: I think there are three main reasons that VMware users should consider iland. First, in general, cloud services can provide technical, operational, and financial benefits that immediately give your company a competitive advantage. There are many ways to deliver VMware applications, but cloud computing can provide demonstrable benefits in terms of cost reduction, agility, and flexibility over on-premises deployments. Second, iland is dedicated to the VMware customers. Our experience is in VMware, our solutions are designed on VMware technology, and our solutions improve the overall VMware experience without compromise. Finally, we provide the full customer experience so customers can leverage our experts depending on their business needs. Don't have time or resources to migrate the application? We can plan, design, onboard, and deploy for you. The experience also includes complete security management by iland, simplified billing, and included customer support. We have designed our portfolio to meet all customer needs.
VMblog: What specifically does your company offer a VMware shop or VMware implementation?
Augat: We have developed a VMware-based cloud platform that delivers performance and security focused application hosting, backup, and disaster recovery. For VMware shops and implementations, we can migrate your application to our cloud without refactoring to one of our 11 data centers around the world. We can provide secure backup for your VMware application, and finally, we can provide self-service or fully-managed disaster recovery as a service for your VMware application.
VMblog: Normally, VMworld is the time of year that people in this industry announce a new product or product update. Do you have anything new that you've recently announced or plan to announce? Can you give us the details?
Augat: Application hosting via our Secure Public Cloud and Hosted Private Cloud has been a huge part of our strategy over the last few years. We have recently introduced new Private Cloud features that enable independent scaling of compute and storage, flexible hardware configurations to help customers customize the application to meet performance and cost needs, and integrated management through our console across the entire portfolio. To that end, we will be announcing new VMware enabled features and capabilities that go beyond the platform. Specifically, new offerings that leverage the latest in VMware innovation including security and application migration services. And - you will also see our new iland Test Drive capabilities. Test Drive is our free trial service that gives customers immediate hands on experience to see the iland difference.
VMblog: How does your company work with VMware? Where do you fit within the VMware ecosystem?
Augat: iland was one of the first members of VMware's Cloud Advisory Board. We are VMware Cloud Verified and have worked collaboratively with the VMware team for years. Our goal is aligned with those of VMware users: Continue to leverage the latest VMware innovation in terms of application capabilities, but transform to the cloud for efficiency. Today, we focus on helping customers preserve their existing VMware investment by designing, migrating, running, and protecting their VMware applications in our global cloud without refactoring or converting. We will continue to stay in lock-step with VMware product availability, so customers that have moved to the cloud can rest assured that they have the full power of VMware that they experienced on-premises.
VMblog: VMware will be covering things in their keynote, but what big changes do you see taking shape in the industry?
Augat: Much like last year, I think VMworld 2020 will showcase a mixture of innovation around developing, running, and securing VMware applications in the cloud. One of the themes from last year was multi-cloud. This is a theme we heartily endorse, and expect to continue in 2020. Customer applications can vary wildly in terms of performance, cost, and other requirements. Sometimes the right cloud can be the biggest cloud provider, but other times the customer (or application) may need a unique mix of performance, security, and cost control that isn't possible with the hyperscalers. That is where we play - and play well. In fact, iland can help customers seamlessly bridge their multi-cloud services with our extensive network technology, experience, and flexibility. This gives customers the ability to ensure all applications, regardless of which cloud they run on, can communicate with each other.
VMblog: Finally, do you think physical trade shows will come back? And if so, when or how will they change? And would your company plan to sponsor events when they come back?
Augat: I'm an optimist so I think we will get back together in person soon, but I do think that the experience could be different. There may be a focus on a hybrid layout. Maybe a multi-city layout with smaller venues. Or venues with a different physical layout. In any case, given iland's history with VMworld, commitment to VMware, and ability to adapt to the changing times, I would expect our sponsorship to be a function of ensuring we are in the right place to best support customers with their business challenges.