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New Ctera CEO sees future in data lakes, data protection

Ctera's new CEO, Oded Nagel, is focused on forming partnerships and providing capabilities for data resilience, interconnectivity and the edge data management.

A leadership shift at Ctera has one of the company's longest tenured employees taking the CEO's chair.

Oded Nagel, a Ctera employee for 15 years, most recently as the chief strategy officer, was promoted to CEO this week alongside senior leaders shifting into new roles. Liran Eshel, Ctera co-founder, relinquishes the CEO title to become executive chair of the board and will continue to work with the company on key strategic initiatives, according to Ctera. Michael Amselem, previously vice president of EMEA, was promoted to chief revenue officer.

Nagel was one of the first employees for the cloud file storage and services company, which opened in doors in 2008. Ctera sells file gateway technologies that cache business-critical data on premises for fast access and tiers colder data to cheaper object storage in public and private clouds. All data is visible and manageable through a global file namespace.

TechTarget Editorial spoke with Nagel about how he's seen the company's product catalog change over the years, what the road ahead looks like for Ctera and how its technology will help customers control data lakes.

Editor's note: The following has been edited for length and clarity.

How has the technology and strategy of the company evolved over the past 15 years?

Oded Nagel, CEO at Ctera NetworkOded Nagel

Oded Nagel: The vision of the company was to become a SaaS provider for midsize and SMB customers as well as to provide and manage NAS solutions that can back up the data to the cloud.

When we started to present the solution to enterprises, they were interested because there are a lot of these edge locations in the enterprise space. Enterprises are like islands of data. Everybody was buying a NetApp, Isilon or Windows Server. But they're not really managed from a central location.

In the last five years, there's been a huge shift in the enterprise. They were used to buying what I like to call legacy NAS solutions: NetApp, Dell Technologies EMC, and so on. With COVID, everybody started to work from remote offices, and enterprises began looking for a more robust solution that allows them to manage and control their unstructured data, specifically in a single namespace.

What's the current roadmap for Ctera products? How will the catalog evolve in the next year or two?

Nagel: The first direction is what we call DevOps-centric data management. In the past, when you manage a storage solution, you were more focused on rack mounts, hard drives, deduplication. Today, as the market evolves, we look at it more like a DevOps-type of automation.

We're really focusing on how we can easily deploy our solution or how you can easily manage it, doing everything remotely -- things like that.

The second thing we are focusing on is what we call cyber resilience storage, specifically around ransomware.

In the next year, we will add more proactive technology, based on machine learning and AI, to provide the ability to detect ransomware attacks at the edge in advance. In less than 30 seconds, based on some advanced machine learning, we will be able to recognize an attack and block the user.

The last thing is the data services angle. We are adding more integration points to our platform to allow enterprises to plug into their own platforms like cloud analytics, data classification, file audits, tracking and many other technologies.

What advantages do you see for CTERA's technology over competitors you've mentioned in the past, like Panzura and Nasuni? Are there specific partners you consider growing alongside?

Nagel: I do believe in the power of partnership. I truly believe that you cannot do everything on your own. You need to focus on your core technology. But to have a broader solution, you need to expand your ecosystem and be open to different enterprise tools that your customers are running in their environments.

How do you see CTERA's tech benefitting customer data lake generation?

Enterprises are actually like islands of data. Everybody was buying a NetApp, Isilon or Windows Server. But they're not really managed from a central location.
Oded NagelCEO, Ctera

Nagel: We see ourselves as a platform that allows customers to move data right from the edge, store it and create a huge data lake. Now, that's exactly what we do.

There are two ways to handle petabytes of data. Some of the tools we will provide internally in our global file system so our customers can really understand what's going on from a data management perspective. That's something we are working to provide built in.

We are coming out with a concept called unified file object. Our platform is going to also expose other interfaces like REST APIs and the S3 interface.

For companies like Snowflake or any other companies that can connect over the S3 interface and run different types of cloud analytics tools, we'll be able to plug into our global file system and then analyze it and expose it to the customer. That's one of the things we are going to work on this year. We're already working on some partnerships around this.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist from the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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