Work Comfortably, Knowing Your Data Is Protected | Chadd Kenney from Clumio

In this episode of UpTech Report, we talk with Chadd Kenney with Clumio, a 100-person startup that offers an SaaS-like service for enterprise backup. Chadd is the vice president and chief technologist at Clumio, driving their long-term vision and strategy.

Chadd has 20 years of experience in technology leadership roles, most recently as an early founding team member at Pure Storage.

Protect your data

One of the pains and challenges that enterprises are going through on their journey to the cloud is how to protect their data. So Clumio had the chance to focus on how to do that.

“Enterprises have a fundamental challenge around backup, and they don’t really know what backup is”, Chadd says.

Chadd Kenney is the Vice President and Chief Technologist at Clumio driving the long-term vision and strategy. Chadd has 20 years of experience in technology leadership roles, most recently as an early founding team member at Pure Storage with roles including VP of Products and Solutions, Chief Technology Officer for the Americas, and Chief Flash Geek. 

Chadd spent 7 years at Pure helping to grow the business from zero in revenue to well over a billion. Chadd also spent 8 years at EMC in various roles from Field CTO to Principal Engineer.

Chadd is a technologist at heart, who loves helping customers understand the true elegance of products through simple analogies, solutions use cases, and a view into the minds of the engineers that created the solution.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Alexander Ferguson 0:00
In this episode of UpTech Report, we talk with Chadd Kenney with Cumio 100 Personal startup that offers a sense like service for enterprise backup, Chadd is the Vice President and Chief Technologist at Clumio driving the long term vision and strategy. Chadd has 20 years of experience in technology leadership roles, most recently as an early founding team member at Pure Storage. Thanks so much for joining me chat. I’m excited to learn more about Clumio and also why you joined them and this direction and how you personally are innovating and growing. So first off, tell me a bit about yourself, and why did you decide to join Clumio?

Chadd Kenney 0:37
Awesome, well, first off, thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here. My name is Chad Kenney, I’ve been with Clumio here for a solid one month had a bunch of fun gigs in tech. And I’ve had a blast just talking to people about, you know, the the fun parts about technology, the values customers get from it, and really understanding the pains and challenges in the enterprise. This opportunity seemed like a perfect fit, because I was really looking for opportunities to move to a more, you know, either cloud native or SAS based offering to help enterprises in a way that, you know, I felt was Ultra complex, that could be solved in a much more simplistic way. And, you know, backup seemed like the thing that was the low hanging fruit to go to cloud. And, you know, when you looked at all of the pains and challenges that the enterprises going through on their journey to the cloud, this seemed like a way to really help people protect their data. In many cases, I realized people weren’t really paying too much attention to it. Whereas on prem, they focus heavily on it. And so this was a really exciting opportunity for me to help educate people on what’s going on in the cloud, and then how we could help protect them. My role, though, pretty much is to kind of be a little bit of the outbound version to help people understand exactly what that technology transition is. I, you know, work with our product organizations in engineering to not only understand exactly what we’re doing, but help them understand the pains customers are having so that we can build better solutions for our customers, and hopefully give them a lot better experience than what they’re dealing with today in their core data center. For

Alexander Ferguson 2:06
a good analogy, what can you how can you explain what does comio do what’s valued as the brain?

Chadd Kenney 2:11
So it’s funny, I actually come up with these analogies a lot with my family. And when I when I came over to Colombia, they kind of said, like, what, what is it like, what does it do? And I said, you know, what enterprises have a fundamental challenge around backup, and they don’t really know what backup is. So I said, Hey, so this is my mission critical device, it’s my phone, right? And, and the thing I hold most valuable on this device, is the pictures of my kids, man, I could get the the opportunity to look back at any point in time, and I want to have that at all time. So in order to protect the data, I have a bunch of options, I can back it up to this laptop here. And you know, as I add more photos, I got to add more hard, you know, external hard drives, and I’ve got to make sure to do it. And if I forget to do it, I lose the pictures, I could take that same software on my laptop and put it in the public cloud, and run it like on an EC two instance and pay all of the time even though I barely ever use it. That seems kind of ridiculous. Or I could just use iCloud or Google Photos, just literally click the button. And I don’t ever worry about the photos not being protected. It’s 100% Protect, I took 100 pictures last night for Halloween. And they were all backed up by this morning. And the cool part to that is now that all my data is in one centralized place, I get huge value from it last night they sent me want to see last year’s Halloween with your kids. Yes, I do. And I click on it, I get to see my kids last year. And so the values that can be brought by a centralized thing is huge. The simplicity of being able to get it to work is amazing for me, and I pay a cost basis for the capacity that I store. And I don’t care about what the infrastructure is. That’s the simplicity of SAS. And that’s really what gloomier is doing for the enterprise to help people get the simplicity, the predictable nature of it, and the security of it running outside of my own house or my own phone, and almost giving me an air gapped backup solution. It’s great.

Alexander Ferguson 4:06
So digging into clue me out what is the market segment that you’re focusing on, and that really that pain point that you’re solving?

Chadd Kenney 4:14
Sure. So if you look at backup, it sucks, I will say as a whole, nobody really like loves backup whatsoever. And so you know, what I was looking at, what we look at, at least in the company is really helping enterprises as a whole. So there’s not a specific segment that we’re really focusing in on, I’d say, of our early customer base, it’s all over the place from large scale enterprises to, you know, health care accounts to, you know, federal entities and a bunch of other stuff. And so I I’d say that, you know, our big focus was trying to figure out how we would fundamentally change the paradigm around data protection, because it just was not read on prem. And most of the mindset was really focused on an on prem basis, meaning that I do all of the same things that I do on prem and then I tried to go do the same thing I did in the cloud. If you look at what’s happened in the enterprise, That’s failed already, the whole lift and shift model didn’t really pan out to anything other than, you know, some people got some cost reductions, but it was a lot higher IQ, more expensive CoLo. And most people realize that they need to re architect their applications to really take on the true agility of the cloud. And so I always say to people, if you were to build an application today, would you go build it on a server architecture, and then assume that that’s somehow going to magically work for you for the next 10 years, knowing that you’re going to be taking on more and more cloud native services? Or would you build a platform from the cloud up from the get go on potentially cloud native services, so that you can take advantage of the innovations of the public cloud, but at the same time, take on the agility, the elasticity, and all the services that already kind of previously built into it?

Alexander Ferguson 5:47
What is the next closest competitor that you can say to what Camilla does, and how are you guys different.

Chadd Kenney 5:54
So I would say that the competitors are kind of still the legacy realm of things I put, I put a bucket around them, because they’re still very much big based upon a product that was in a data center that was on a server, and they have now kind of kind of virtualized their appliances in the public cloud. And so all of the traditional names, I would say, are still in the competitive realms of things. There aren’t very many competitors who are doing what I’d say 100% cloud native, meaning that we don’t have like an appliance, per se, we have, you know, we run on DynamoDB, lambda, all serverless functions, for the most part, you’ll have some RDS in the backend, we’re not building our own data structures, or databases. It’s 100%, Amazon resources for today. And then we’ll go to other clouds in the future. But it gives us huge agility to not have to think about that. And so I don’t think there’s another competitor who’s doing that in a cloud native format. There are other people who protect cloud assets out there, but they do it in a form factor. And I’ll give you a little bit deeper technology differentiation is imagine this for a quick second, when you’re backing up assets, we send it directly to s3, we’re completely out of the way meaning I have a a OPA that gets deployed in a VMware environment, it then inventories everything you set a policy, it backs it up. And we’re completely other way. It’s it’s leveraging the scalability of s3 within Amazon, which is ridiculously sized. Most other competitors are a an EC two instance that sits there and collects the data and the EC two instance, yes, you can scale those all you like, but those are now the bottleneck of getting data into the cloud. And so for us, what we’ve done is leveraged the true capabilities of the cloud to make us vastly different. And that’s just the first part. That’s just the one thing we do to get data there. But then once it’s there, you can start splitting up processes in a much more parallel fashion, because we’re doing very serverless functionality, with you know, lambda functions all over the place and creating huge monstrous workflows, versus having one single compute entity be that bottleneck of the entire system. What do you did it start in 2017. So we’ve been around for about two years in development. We just came out of stealth in August, comically enough, we actually Jade the product in April, this is pre my time. And we were already having customers actually purchase before we even had a website, which is even more hilarious. I was interviewing with with gloomier and I, you know, my wife at the time was like this, they’re not even real. They don’t even website it just says like, we really trust this, Megan. But you know, at the end of the day, the technology kind of spoke for itself. And a lot of customers who tried it saw that like unique simplicity, that so many other products had kind of come come out to market with that it disrupted the industry all together. And, you know, if you look at what happened when we came out of stealth in 2019, now, two years later, at VMworld, we won Best in Show for the entire show, as well as our own category, which I would say I was actually pretty impressed by the sense that we just got a website up the week before. And some of the reasons why we’re, you know, a big focus on security, a totally different way of doing backup than anyone else had done before. And I think the overall vision and strategy of the business

Alexander Ferguson 9:11
and the backing behind it, they see correctly that they raised additional funds as well.

Chadd Kenney 9:17
So we’ve we’ve raised a total of 51 million in funding currently, which has given us you know, great opportunities for continued growth. And so it’s an exciting space for us to, you know, innovate in and continue to grow from that.

Alexander Ferguson 9:29
So, going forward, what do you what do you see the next one, two years where you want to be? And will you be?

Chadd Kenney 9:37
Yeah, great question. I so I think about this quite often and, you know, articulating this to people after only being out for one month, is also kind of funny at the same time, but um, you know, a lot of what we want to do in the next year or two is really good on new data sources. Right. And so today, we focus on VMware. You know, we’re getting more and more into data, public cloud services, we’ll get More and more SAS based offerings, I think will really try to satisfy a lot of those add feature functionality to the product around, you know, reporting and other elegances that people love. It’s funny, you know, at the early days up here, everybody wanted to see the same knobs they had. And we had to kind of explain to them that they don’t need those knobs anymore, right? Because it’s like, you know, you just don’t, the complexity is gone. And so there’s a bit of that. So we’re helping people try to understand exactly what’s going on. And at some point, people are gonna say, I don’t even care about it, because it’s so simple, and it just works. Beyond that, I think, you know, our overall vision is building a data platform. And the values that can come from that are, there is a bunch, right. And so building in a single consolidated catalog and index across a large scale capacity gives you a lot of power to be able to derive both value from your data which everyone wants to do, but also a competitive advantage against your competitors to really be able to get some inherent value that you weren’t able to get, because you didn’t have that consolidated view in the past.

Alexander Ferguson 11:03
I am excited for that vision, and I appreciate it. Well, it’s gonna take, you know, a year, two years, but it’s the the end goal of being able to have all this data, how you can use it. I also appreciate the point that you see some of the hurdles as you grow. Those knobs that you mentioned, people are looking for right now, what other hurdles, do you see that you’re going to have to overcome in order to realize this vision of more more people being able to utilize this service?

Chadd Kenney 11:28
Great question. So you know, if you look at most enterprises, today, they’re going through a bunch of hurdles themselves to even get to the cloud. And a lot of it is just the shift in mindset that needs to happen between on prem and the public cloud, I use this fun analogy about you know, your lights on in your house, and when you were a kid, your parents will tell you to shut the lights off all the time, and you never really understood why. Right, and he, I’m going to come back to that room in two hours, I can leave the light on, the first time you paid your electricity bill, the Holy smokes, you’re like, I gotta pay for this thing all the time, it’s expensive, I get to turn all my lights off. That’s really what’s happened at the applications here, fundamentally, yet an application that ran 100% of the time in the datacenter didn’t pay any difference, it was a CapEx, Ben, now you move that application into the cloud, you’re gonna pay for every second that thing’s running. And so you’ve got to build in efficiencies, so that when I’m not using that particular function, I gotta shut it down. And if you look at cloud native base activities, it’s very much focused on using serverless based capabilities and platforms of service offerings, where you pay for API calls, so you’re not paying for anything while it’s running. So I think that the hurdle that you know, we could run into is people just really having trouble getting to the cloud faster, and understanding the value that it brings. And I personally believe those hurdles are already going away. Second, is, you know, reading quite a bit hit I hit up a bunch of different blogs and you know, stay pretty close to the pulse of things.

Alexander Ferguson 12:52
What’s your favorite blog? If I might ask any any come to mind right away, like, oh, man, you know, this one, I frequent fairly often. Any thoughts? So

Chadd Kenney 12:59
the ones that I actually spent a lot of time on are like the, you know, updates on new companies and technology and stuff. So like the registers one, you get to see, like, more provocative ways of, you know, getting getting news. Because I’m usually on very, very quick readings of things versus spending a lot of time but

Alexander Ferguson 13:20
we never have much time. So it’s like how do you quickly get new insights? And what was this one doing? What is that one doing? If I can go back to actually your your networking friends, brilliant idea. Any tactics? Do you? How often do you get together folks, you like, hey, let’s have a weekly beer with my local tech friends? Or do you have any strategies for getting together and doing that,

Chadd Kenney 13:37
I wish there was something more consistent, it’s kind of you know, I travel quite a bit. So I get to see people in different in different areas all the time, it’s, the fun part about traveling is you kind of jump into people’s lives for a couple days. And then, you know, they’re forced to have to hang out with you the whole time, I guess. And so you get to spend a bunch of time with different folks from different walks of life, as well as different regions. That’s one area like the valleys got its own ecosystem. So sometimes it’s interesting to go, you know, central into Central East Coast, down south and you kind of get a good mix of where the world is, versus being just focused too much on your own ecosystem.

Alexander Ferguson 14:15
What kind of upcoming technology are you most excited about personally?

Chadd Kenney 14:21
So I was big a big and still am on a lot of the artificial intelligence machine learning side of the house. We built a pure a bunch of really cool products for deep learning and the like, and we, I spent probably a good year just digging into, you know, different types of models and trying to build my own. We did a couple fun demos of you know, object classification and the like, because there’s a lot of stuff that’s kind of like pre built that you can easily integrate into it and open source. But really, I’m excited about that type of technology not in the you know, the the media tends to over exaggerate a lot of the capabilities of these things, but really seeing exactly how we can integrate these into products really add inherent values to people that, you know, I think, today, we can do with a lot of, you know, complex algorithms and workflows and math, but actually have them be more of an assistant capability to be able to showcase like, Hey, you may not have seen this correlative correlation within your data. But I just noticed that it may be interesting, those types of things are pretty fun, because I think, you know, today, it’s all about deriving as much value from data that you possibly can. And, you know, we only have a certain amount of focus, a lot of times it takes when you have a large scale amount of data, algorithms to really be able to dictate where inherent value could reside, and then the humans figure out whether it’s valuable or not, and try to correlate those together.

Alexander Ferguson 15:45
Ai assistants, it’s for sure, I’m excited for that too, without in depth. Thank you, again, so much for joining, where can folks go to learn more about Colombia? What’s a good first step for them to take?

Chadd Kenney 15:57
Sure, so we have a bunch of great content on clay, our newly created websites. We’ve got a bunch of great blog posts, from various different aspects. So we have some from the engineering side of the house to kind of tell you why we build a SaaS based product, why it’s different, some that are more just kind of talking about the industry and trends that we see within within the market, some just about culture and what it’s like to be in a small, you know, startup company that’s trying to disrupt the market. So some great content there will be out at reinvent coming in December, so there’ll be some fun stuff that we’ll be announcing out there. And feel free to reach out to me at any point in time as well. I’m at at Chad Kenny, on Twitter, and also have my own Chad Kenny comm blog as well.

Alexander Ferguson 16:45
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.


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