Q&A on Cloud Storage With Guru Pangal at Google Cloud

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Cloud storage has become an essential solution for enterprises to securely store and scale their data and customers’ information.

Mountain View, California-based Google Cloud aims to help companies improve lives while accepting the new digital world — including through cloud storage.

Enterprise Storage Forum interviewed Guru Pangal — the GM/VP of storage at Google Cloud — who shares his perspective on the development and growth of the cloud storage market:

Guru Pangal

Guru Pangal. Courtesy Google Cloud.
Guru Pangal. Courtesy Google Cloud.

Pangal has over 25 years of experience in enterprise products and services, such as storage, networking, and computing infrastructure. After Pangal received two degrees, a B.S. in electronics and communication engineering from JNT University in India and an M.S. in computer science from Utah State, he started three startups that have all been successful. One of Pangal’s startups, CloudSimple, was acquired by Google, giving Pangal the chance to work for Google Cloud as a leader in its storage division.


Enterprise Storage Forum: How did you first start working in cloud storage?

Pangal: I have been involved with cloud storage and seen its evolution for quite some time now. I started working on cloud storage a decade ago at my startup StorSimple, where we were tiering data from on-premises to the cloud based on policies, while providing flash-based on-premises storage. I then ran Azure hybrid storage and Azure data protection after we were acquired by Microsoft. Almost three years ago, I arrived at Google via acquisition of my third startup CloudSimple, which was doing VMware-as-a-service for the hyperscalers.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is your favorite thing about working at Google Cloud?

Pangal: Google’s care for its employees is inscribed and followed in our culture, and we have an obsession for doing the right thing for our customers.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What sets Google Cloud’s cloud storage approach or solutions apart from the competition?

Pangal: At Google Cloud, we believe that storage is foundational to good infrastructure, and we’re focused on making data more performant, scalable, accessible, and protected both on-prem and in the cloud. We build customer-focused solutions that protect data and allow customers to transform their businesses through data-powered innovation. These solutions are built on the same globally scalable infrastructure that powers other Google services, like Search, Gmail, Maps, and YouTube, giving our customers the latest innovations, scale, and performance that is needed for both modern and traditional architectures. Additionally, all of our solutions are built on open technologies, which allows us to best meet customers needs, whether they’re on-prem, fully in the cloud, or a mix of both.

The Market

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one key cloud storage technology that particularly interests you?

Pangal: There are many, but one thing that really excites me is object storage’s planet scale reach combined with automated, consistent high-performance replication with global endpoints. It’s giving customers the ability to start implementing mission-critical applications needing high availability — which has never before been possible. Before this, the best they could do with super expensive on-premises storage was replicate to one or two data centers with their own networking infrastructure and map these endpoints physically.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one cloud storage technique that teams should implement?

Pangal: Cloud storage has powerful scalability and availability, especially in the object storage format. In the cloud, customers can build global scale applications with very high data durability and availability characteristics, by leveraging the replication and global endpoints capabilities of cloud storage.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one cloud storage strategy that companies should implement?

Pangal: Data is a company’s most important input and asset, and one of the most critical tasks is protecting it. At the same time, customers tell us they wish it were easier to get the right level of protection for their data, or they’re struggling to extend the standard protection policies they have in place for VMs to container infrastructure. It’s important to have a fully integrated data protection solution for critical applications and databases in the event of loss or disaster.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is the biggest cloud storage mistake you see enterprises making?

Pangal: The biggest cloud storage mistake enterprises are making is not planning the storage architecture right from the beginning of developing an application. The right storage performance, availability, accessibility, and manageability of data is critical for the health of the organization and needs to be planned for up front.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What are some current trends in the data backup market that are promising?

Pangal: Some big trends we’re seeing with customers is that more mainstream traditional workloads are moving to the cloud. Most companies moving these workloads to the cloud want to lift and shift their workloads into a managed service and modernize workloads when they come to the cloud. These customers need a platform that provides them with the right access protocols, data protection, and performance. This is a unique opportunity for cloud providers to make these transitions as seamless as possible.

The second trend we’re seeing right now is companies with distributed infrastructure and data in multiple places. These companies need tools that allow them to have visibility and properly manage all their data wherever it resides. Data sprawl is happening, and again, there’s a unique opportunity for cloud providers to help companies better manage and store their data.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What are the biggest factors that are driving change in cloud storage?

Pangal: Cost optimization is becoming front and center for all enterprises and this trend will only continue. This means cloud storage needs to look at how to save money for the customer, while still delivering the performance and scale enterprises depend on.

Enterprise Storage Forum: How has cloud storage changed during your time in the market?

Pangal: Cloud storage started off with just object storage offering scale and cost with low performance and availability. Cloud storage has since brought all the enterprise storage characteristics, like block, file protocols, high availability, low latency, and throughput requirements, to the cloud, while doing this all at cloud scale.

Enterprise Storage Forum: Where do you predict the cloud storage market will be 5 or 10 years from now?

Pangal: Cloud storage does not live independently of the overall cloud market. With data becoming more important to enterprises and analytics and AI/ML becoming mainstream, cloud storage will become the lowest substrate to provide significant value to these upstream analytics/AI/ML workloads. This will lead to new requirements in terms of performance, flexibility, governance, and mobility of data in the next decade.

Personnel in cloud storage

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one cloud storage technology your team wants storage professionals to know?

Pangal: With the trend towards microservices-based architectures, storage professionals need to get trained in a DevOps model of managing enterprise data and storage. The older ways of deploying applications in silos, and getting operationalized after building of the application, is over. Developers will have to think of infrastructure, including storage, while building the application.

Enterprise Storage Forum: If you could give one piece of advice to a cloud storage professional in the beginning of their career, what would it be?

Pangal: As I mentioned above, storage professionals should become developers instead of focusing on just operations.

Enterprise Storage Forum: With the shortage of tech talent, how is your team finding and retaining professionals to work in cloud storage?

Pangal: Google is committed to building innovative technology and keeping our culture strong. Retaining and attracting top talent is a priority for us.

Work life

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one of your top professional accomplishments?

Pangal: I’m really proud that I built a successful startup early in my career at a time when storage was considered a graveyard for startups.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is your favorite part of working in the cloud storage market?

Pangal: The best part of being in this market is the scale at which we’re able to operate and build new products and innovations in the storage space.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What is one of your favorite parts of the work week? How does it encourage or inspire you?

Pangal: Talking to customers and engineers about their challenges and solving them is what inspires me to keep doing good work.

Enterprise Storage Forum: Do you have a favorite way to recharge during the workday?

Pangal: Get my workout done and relax with my spouse to close the day, watching some TV.

Enterprise Storage Forum: What are your favorite hobbies or ways to spend time outside of work?

Pangal: Playing golf (even though I am terrible at it) and spending time with my family.

For more: Google Cloud: Storage Portfolio Review

Emma Crockett
Emma Crockett
Emma Crockett is a staff writer for Datamation, to which she has contributed more than 80 research-based articles about big data, AI, IoT and other technologies. She often speaks to experts about industry trends and areas of emerging technology. Based in Nashville, she earned a BA in English from the University of Memphis and an Introduction to Cybersecurity certification from Cisco. She previously wrote for Enterprise Storage Forum.

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