Talking Unstructured Data Management with Technologent’s Manny Punzo, Jr.

Manny Punzo, Jr. is Vice President of Data Management Strategy at Technologent, an IT solutions provider focused on enterprise-class infrastructure and data center solutions. In this Komprise Konnects partner spotlight, I sat down with Manny to learn more about the evolution of his role at Technologent, the partnership with Komprise, and get his perspective on the industry.

Tell me about Technologent and your role?

Technologent has been in business for 19 years. Instead of just being a value-added reseller, we’ve grown into a solution integrator, delivering edge-to-edge data center, multi-cloud, automation, risk avoidance, and cyber secure data protection solutions.

Over the last year or two, the conversation has shifted to data management instead of just backup and recovery or data protection.

Part of the data management conversation deals with managing and protecting unstructured data, hence our partnership with Komprise. We look at unstructured data through a data protection lens. Our goal is to help organizations have better insight into their data so they can manage it, protect it, and store it more effectively.

What’s changing in the world of storage and unstructured data management?

I’ve been focused on data protection for 25 years. We used to talk about unstructured data as – archive it first, back it up second. But, that culture went away with the inception of the data deduplication appliances, when people didn’t care so much about the amount and type of data – they thought just de-dupe it and it was fine.

Fast forward to today and there are a lot of factors that are forcing customers to think differently about their data. Unstructured data growth has and continues to be a constant challenge by itself, but when you factor in cybersecurity issues, ransomware, new data privacy regulations – all of these and other factors are driving the unstructured data management conversation– what do we have, what are we protecting, why are we storing it, and can we do something with it?

Data management is a new practice at Technologent – it used to be called Data Protection Solutions. When you look at metadata management and the intersection of structured data and analytics, that’s an area where we will also be focusing on at Technologent this year. We specialize in data protection solutions, but ultimately provide an entire ecosystem for our customers around data management.

Finding value for your data and then protecting and storing data accordingly – we want to provide management solutions for the entire data lifecycle.

What’s changing in your client conversations about storage?

The storage conversation is changing. There’s a lot of players out in the cloud. There’s software defined storage. But, if you look at the big vendors today, they’re building a lot of these capabilities into their storage. Some are talking about data management capabilities, but it becomes specific to that storage array.

Our partnership with Komprise is more agnostic. It doesn’t matter what storage we’re looking at and where it resides – cloud or on-prem. And many organizations are consolidating data centers. They’re moving to the cloud and data management is limited unless you bring in a 3rd party product like Komprise.

What is the best time to bring Komprise into a client conversation?

A common customer pain point is, “We’re running out of NAS space/storage.” Our approach is to work with customers to re-evaluate their data and what they’re doing with it. If I tell you that 60-70% of your data is stale, why would you want to increase the cost of storing it? Of course, we can sell a customer another shelf or two of disc, but we’re trying to change the culture and mindset, so they don’t just keep growing their array, when eventually they’re going to really need to know what they have. Now is the perfect time to start having these conversations.

If a customer says, ‘I’ve got a petabyte of data on my XYZ storage, how do I back it up?’ I’d say, ‘Don’t back it up. I can get rid of 70% of that data so your active data is backed up and you’re not putting a strain on your data protection solutions.’

Ultimately, we want our customers to make intelligent decisions on how to store and protect their data.

How do you get in front of the mindset of just buying more storage or thinking you should back up all your data first?

The key is to have conversations with the right audience. It’s not just a conversation with the IT manager, who might run out of space and want to call a partner to buy another shelf of disc. This continues to happen, but c-level people in the organization are concerned about mitigating risk and how to prevent the organization from being exposed.

This is when you can have a conversation about understanding what you’re really protecting, how much data you have and what’s in that data. Then you’re talking about how we can give you insight into the data and how they can start managing it appropriately.

I’ve been doing this for a long time. There used to be a huge gap between IT and the business. That gap is closing. Now, what IT does impacts the bottom line more than ever. If there’s a breach, the business is exposed. Legal is also involved with data privacy regulations. It’s a much more strategic conversation, beyond just adding hardware to an array. We want to help bring this all together to ensure the business knows what’s happening in IT and vice versa. Otherwise, they don’t know what they don’t know.

What about the cloud?

Think about what organizations are facing today in their own data centers. They’re going to run into the same issues in the cloud. They’ll be limited as to what the cloud vendors will provide as options from a data management perspective. The question is what are you going to do with your unstructured data on-prem? Are you going to lift and shift it to the cloud? It’s probably not a good idea. It’s not cheap. There are costs associated with getting data in and out. There are different tiers of storage. More and more customers are dipping their toes in or migrating to the cloud.

The key is to take a look at your data to make better decisions.

We’re also helping customers ensure that the teams building and running cloud native apps understand what we’ve learned in the data center world when it comes to unstructured data management, protection, privacy, and security.

Tell me about the Komprise partnership?

The partnership started over 3 years ago. I had a slide back then that illustrated that unstructured data problem. We needed a solution that was really friendly with NAS and open protocols and could help us give our customers an unstructured data visibility assessment.

Komprise allowed us to help our customers get the visibility they needed and then customers would continue to use Komprise for on-going data management.

The data protection practice was born here in the TOLA region. Now Data Management is national practice with growing momentum. It is core to what we do at Technologent and external factors mean customers need to do something about their growing volumes of unstructured data.

We like Komprise because we can be independent and ultimately get the customer what they need.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what you’ve learned from this crazy year?

I’m the oldest in my family and we’re the only ones in Texas. Everyone else is back in Chicago. I’m a big golf fan. I love to shoot. I have a daughter who is a respiratory therapist at Children’s Health in downtown Dallas who is in the thick of things with Covid. I have a son who is a sophomore in college on a golf scholarship who hasn’t been able to play golf. Covid and everything we’ve all been through has really put things into perspective for me. If there’s one thing that this past year has taught me, it is to be empathetic. You think things are going wrong with you but you need to think of the bigger picture. It’s just a small piece of what everyone else is experiencing.

My approach to 2021 is: Don’t take anything or anyone for granted. You can’t. Spend time with your family and close friends. Take care of your health. Life is too short. It’s not guaranteed. So make the most of it.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and perspective, Manny!

To learn more about Technologent’s Data Management practice visit https://www.technologent.com/

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