The Problem With Moving Enterprise Workloads to the Cloud – Interview with Charles Wright, CEO & CTO of ATADATA


ATADATA recently announced ATAsphere, which the company describes as a managed workload mobility platform that enables borderless automation for hybrid IT and cloud environments. I sat down with Charles Wright, founder, CEO and CTO of ATADATA, soon after the announcement to talk about the current enterprise shift to hybrid IT infrastructure and multi-cloud adoption, and how ATAsphere addresses the challenges this presents for workload migration.

Can we start off with you giving the readers a little background on ATADATA?

CW: Yes, sure. Our story really begins early in my career. Prior to founding ATADATA in 2012, I worked at IBM’s Migration Factory, and was deeply involved in migrating very complex enterprise workloads for a living. So I know first hand that there many point solutions in the market, but none that really address the range of challenges and risks involved in moving these complex workloads across a diversity of environments.

The connections and dependencies between workloads can affect multiple internal lines of business and even extend outside the enterprise organization itself to endpoints that run across customers, partners and the supply chain. And once you mix in cloud, hybrid IT and enterprise applications, the migration process becomes even more complex and the risk level rises as well.

Cloud has been around for several years now, but there has not been a solution to address how complex, mission-critical workloads can be moved live, with minimal impact on business, across physical and virtual, private and public cloud environments. ATADATA addresses that gap.

We’re seeing good validation for the services we deliver. Our partner network of global systems integrators, such as Cognizant, Capgemini, Deloitte and Wipro, deliver our point solutions to a wide range of enterprise customers — and that includes more than a dozen Fortune 100 companies. We doubled our revenue in 2016 over 2015, and we’re on track to triple our revenue this year over 2016.

Tell us about ATAsphere. How does it fit into the current wave of hybrid IT and multi-cloud adoption?

CW: Multi-cloud, hybrid cloud is becoming the norm for enterprise customers. As we’ve seen, any kind of outage only reinforces the point of multiple clouds with customers. However, there are two realities we’re dealing with here. One, there are always going to be outages. Two, enterprise customers will retain some of their infrastructure within their own data centers, colo, or private cloud, and are already starting to leverage multiple public clouds for the benefits of elasticity, scalability, performance and pricing that public clouds give them.

We launched ATAsphere with a focus on enabling the migration of mission-critical enterprise workloads. Essentially, the platform is built to overcome the challenges inherent in moving complex, multi-tier applications with large data sets in production environments that are always-on — and to take advantage of multi-cloud models to avoid the vendor lock-in that has been a drawback to cloud adoption. The more you can automate and orchestrate this process, the less manual effort and risk involved.

ATAsphere is a borderless automation platform that brings together all of our point solutions. We believe it’s the only unified platform for hybrid IT in the market today that enables enterprises to map, manage and migrate across any combination of on-premise, hypervisors, private clouds and public clouds. It’s all about helping our customers understand what’s in their environment and enabling them to move these machines and applications around as easily and as smoothly as possible.

We support more OS types than any one vendor. We support all major clouds, and have private cloud integration with OpenStack and VMware vCloud Director. Our hypervisor integration is very thorough as well.

What are the platform’s main features?

CW: ATAsphere is focused on three key areas: it maps, manages and migrates enterprise environments. While each of the point solutions on the ATAsphere platform can be used individually, the platform itself is a single unified solution enabling discovery, application mapping, mirroring, cost projections, move group creation and enablement, and synchronization of migrated workloads. It’s uniquely an end-to-end platform that can be deployed using only one, simple console interface.

With ATAsphere, we’ve introduced a new technology category, the managed workload mobility platform, specifically for the enterprise, for both brownfield and greenfield deployments across cloud and hybrid IT. It delivers visibility across environments, agentless deployment, borderless automation and orchestration, and seamless any-to-any workload portability.

What would you say differentiates ATAsphere in the market?

CW: We have two significant differentiators. Definitely our focus on complex, multi-tier enterprise applications is one. We are able to do mass migrations over limited bandwidths and orchestrate the whole process. This differentiator is reinforced by the fact that we are the only reference architecture for moving SAP workloads to AWS, Virtustream, and other enterprise clouds.

Integration is our second significant differentiator. As I’ve discussed before, there are lots of great point solutions in the market, but none that takes the single platform approach, from discovery to end cutover of migration. There’s no unified solution that’s orchestrating and provisioning across disparate environments while looking at rightsizing resources, cost comparisons and projections across multiple clouds, and optimizing workloads. ATAsphere offers a single pane of glass for the entire process, including a range of important functionalities with bottom line impact.

Speaking of integration, do you foresee integrating with other point solutions in the market?

CW: We are absolutely focused on integration. We are very open to partnering with point solutions, and are already in conversation with vendors who could be viewed as our competitors. There’s a general recognition in the industry that not everyone can address every challenge in transformation.

You mentioned global system integrator partners. Are they your target market, or do you also work direct with enterprise customers?

CW: We are a channel-first organization. While enterprises engage with us, on big projects, the delivery partner is always the systems integrator. We’re working with more and more SIs. We’ve done away with as much of the heavy lifting as we can, and provide them with an easy user interface that allows them to perform the job remotely or onsite, at scale, for single and multiple customers.

What’s down the road for ATADATA?

CW: We’ve launched another native solution, a DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service) enablement solution we’ve named ATAguard. It’s in response to a lot of pent-up demand, and we anticipate brisk sales.

ATAguard complements our existing solutions by drastically reducing the manual effort required to deploy DR using its agentless architecture. Regardless of platform mix – physical, virtual or cloud – ATAguard is delivering DR capabilities on the AWS platform initially, and will support more platforms in the future. It automates the provisioning of micro instances for DR and synchronizes the data in the background while workloads remain entirely online, without any size limitations. Using near real-time replication it keeps the servers in synch and automates failover in the event of a problem.

Ongoing, we will continue working towards extending and deepening our partnerships with cloud vendors and with systems integrators. Right from the start, our goal was to deliver real-world solutions that can handle the rapidly increasing volume, diversity and complexity of data and applications necessary for the future of business. We’re not taking our eyes off that goal.

Roman Grimaldi