Virtual VeeamON 2020 seeks interactivity, cloud focus

VeeamON seeks to overcome the challenges of virtual conferences that have become common in 2020. Veeam also released a report that details the challenges in data protection.

A pioneer in virtual data protection is preparing for its now-virtual user conference.

Though Veeam Software has run virtual events before, VeeamON 2020 was scheduled for Las Vegas in May, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the data protection and management vendor to shift gears. The free virtual edition runs June 17-18.

The backup vendor wants to keep a live atmosphere for its virtual show. Sessions will include live Q&As, and VeeamON 2020 will even include a Veeam party, featuring a performance by Keith Urban.

"It can't be a death-by-PowerPoint," Veeam chief marketing officer Jim Kruger said. "You've got to mix it up."

'New Veeam' takes on new type of user conference

Veeam has previously hosted a virtual VeeamON in addition to its in-person user conference. Kruger said the company learned from that prior experience and seeks a live component to the virtual show. Along with Q&As, the agenda includes a "VeeamathON" collection of 10 sessions -- with live back-and-forth -- that highlight different functionality of Veeam products.

"We want to make it as interactive as possible," Kruger said.

That interactivity is one of the key elements that Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, will watch for as he attends VeeamON 2020. He said he'll also look for the quality of content, how it's presented and accessibility to the content after the show is over.

Though the physical face-to-face interaction is lost, one benefit to a virtual show is being able to view sessions on your own time. Users can easily consume content such as product demos on-demand, Bertrand said. And the vendor can keep users coming back.

Headshot of Veeam chief marketing officer Jim KrugerJim Kruger

Kruger said the sessions will be available on-demand.

"You're changing the pace you can consume the information," Bertrand said.

Another benefit is the volume of attendees. While a typical Veeam conference might draw about 2,000 people, 12,000 from 148 countries had registered for VeeamON 2020 as of last week, Kruger said. The vendor is hoping for 15,000.

"It gives us a much broader audience to go after," Kruger said.

Conference speakers include Veeam CEO William Largent and former Microsoft CFO and CIO John Connors. Session topics range from ransomware resiliency to Office 365 backup to Kubernetes protection.

Judging by the VeeamON 2020 tagline, "Elevate Your Cloud Data Strategy," the cloud will play a significant role over the two days. Sessions include "AWS and Azure Backup Best Practices," "Cloud Mobility and Data Portability" and "Current Global Backup Trends & the Future State of Cloud Data Management."

Veeam plans to include product news at the conference. In recent years, Veeam has expanded its data protection from the virtual focus to physical and cloud support. In May, the vendor launched a partnership with Kasten in container data protection. In February, Veeam launched version 10 of its Availability Suite, featuring enhanced NAS backup and ransomware protection.

It can't be a death-by-PowerPoint.
Jim KrugerChief marketing officer, Veeam

VeeamON 2020 comes five months after Insight Partners bought the data protection vendor at a $5 billion valuation. At that time, Largent returned to the role of CEO, replacing co-founder Andrei Baronov. Ratmir Timashev, the other founder and also a former Veeam CEO, left his executive vice president position.

"It's kind of a new Veeam, in a sense," Bertrand said.

Bertrand listed the cloud, automation and ransomware as key focus areas. He said he'd like to see more from Veeam in intelligent data management -- that is, how organizations can reuse data for other purposes such as analytics or DevOps.

Amid the pandemic, vendors should be looking to deliver data protection in a way that uses remote management and automation, Bertrand said. That plays to a lot of vendors' strengths.

"Veeam has some interesting cards to play," Bertrand said.

Data protection report cites availability, staff challenges

One topic of discussion at VeeamON 2020 will be the vendor's recently released "2020 Data Protection Trends" report. It will be part of the keynote and a couple of sessions will discuss its results.

Dave Russell, Veeam vice president of enterprise strategy, said one of the key takeaways from the report is that the "availability gap" still exists. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they either agreed or strongly agreed that there's a gap between how fast they need applications recovered and how fast they actually recover, according to the report.

"The vast majority aren't going to be able to meet their companies' [service-level agreements]," said Russell, co-author of the report with Jason Buffington, vice president of solutions strategy at Veeam.

Headshot of Veeam's Dave RussellDave Russell

Ninety-five percent of organizations suffer unexpected outages and an average outage lasts nearly two hours, according to the report.

Lack of staff to work on new initiatives and lack of budget for new initiatives were the top two data protection challenges, with 42% and 40% of respondents choosing them, respectively.

Veeam commissioned Vanson Bourne to conduct the online survey of 1,550 enterprises from about 20 countries in early 2020. The agency sourced predominantly non-Veeam customers and respondents didn't know Veeam was behind the report, Russell said.

The research concluded in January, before the pandemic really struck most places. The lack of staff and funding issue will undoubtedly heighten. Layoffs, furloughs and budget cuts have already hit. As a result, simplicity in IT products will be important.

"[Organizations] need a solution that's going to be very intuitive," Russell said.

For example, if workers are furloughed or laid off, an organization should be wary of products that require days or weeks of training.

Russell said he thinks cloud use will rise. After the 2008 economic downturn, Russell said he saw organizations holding onto their gear longer, with less refresh cycles, and the cloud was not what it is today.

"I think we will see people embrace cloud and all its various forms," such as infrastructure and platform as a service, Russell said.

According to the report, 43% of organizations plan to use cloud-based backup managed by a backup-as-a-service provider within the next two years. Thirty-four percent said they anticipate self-managed backup using cloud services as their organization's primary method of backing up data.

Russell said he hopes IT administrators go to their bosses with the info in this report and show how their organizations can adapt.

"I hope people can use this as ammunition to say, hey, we're not so different," Russell said.

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