Founders in Focus: Simon Taylor, Founder and CEO, HYCU 

Each month we’ll highlight one of the founders of Okta Ventures’ portfolio companies. You’ll get to know more about them and learn how they work with Okta. This month we’re speaking with Simon Taylor, Founder, and CEO of HYCU. 

What is HYCU, and what is your mission? 

HYCU is the world’s fastest-growing Data Protection as a Service company, with thousands of customers across 78 countries and hubs in Boston, Austin, Ljubljana, and Belgrade. We are on a mission to make the world a safer place by ensuring businesses have an intuitive, accessible way to protect critical data wherever it resides.

Data has an enormous impact on the daily lives of people all over the world—from something as simple as using a bank card to purchase groceries to accessing the patient data necessary to providing life-saving medical care—these things are not possible without reliable access to data. At HYCU, we realize how important it is for businesses to effectively protect and access their data when they need it.

The problem is that legacy data protection solutions make it difficult for businesses to do this in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. We saw a huge opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the world by approaching this problem in a fundamentally different way and removing the complexities of data protection in a hybrid and multi-cloud world. This led to the creation of our data protection platform, HYCU Protégé.

What were you doing prior to HYCU that led you to this moment? 

The idea started during a tech convention in Las Vegas. Our HYCU CTO, Goran Garevski, and I were dining at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Goran, a technologist focused on data protection for over three decades, and I were passionately discussing how incredibly complicated backup had become and that, with even more data sources and silos being created, how much more complex backup vendors were making it.

We agreed there had to be a better way. Ultimately, we decided that if we were to succeed, we would need to make backup and recovery as simple for the enterprise as Apple iCloud had made it for the consumer. With iCloud, Apple had made backup simple—transparent—across multiple devices.

At that very moment—and I couldn’t make this up—streamers rained from the ceiling and the restaurant staff came out running with a cake, congratulating us on being their 1,000th customer. It was an undeniable sign from the universe that we were onto something new and innovative, and we began working toward making simple, seamless data protection a reality. 

What is HYCU’s solution? What challenges does it solve?

Data has not only increased in volume but also in complexity, with the average company now storing data in 150 different locations. Legacy data protection solutions work by protecting individual data sources, but they do nothing to decrease the attack surface. They actually create more complexity, which often makes it more difficult for companies to protect their data and leaves them at greater risk of being impacted by ransomware. 

HYCU Protégé is the first data protection platform to address this by natively integrating with the various places that companies store data on-premises, in the cloud, and within SaaS applications. Using HYCU Protégé, customers can finally get equal levels of data protection no matter where their data is stored. And because HYCU Protégé is a single platform, users can view and manage all their data protection policies within one intuitive interface. Protégé is simple, easy to use, and designed to protect modern hybrid and multi-cloud data estates.

Our solutions are purpose-built for each backup source protected. We currently have offerings for AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, VMware, Nutanix, and Dell PowerScale environments. We also support various enterprise and SaaS applications and databases such as Microsoft365, SAP HANA, and MySQL, to name a few. This enables customers to protect data residing within those infrastructure platforms, apps, and databases. Still, it also gives them the freedom to migrate their data across platforms or to implement cost-effective disaster recovery.

We’ve seen many different types of customers benefit from HYCU Protégé. It is used by companies that are looking for a single vendor to provide data protection across their hybrid and multi-cloud environments, by leading Software-as-a-Service providers that need to ensure their customers’ data is protected, and by service providers who are looking for better ways to offer data protection services to their customers.

Why did HYCU want to work with Okta? 

Importantly, HYCU and Okta share a similar purpose in wanting to make the world a safer place, especially from ransomware attacks. Together, we offer a best-in-class solution that helps companies prevent and recover from ransomware attacks quickly and with minimal business impact. 

In addition to the synergies in our missions, when HYCU looks to partner, we look to partner with leaders in the market segments we jointly support. Okta is not only a leading identity management provider that prevents uncontrolled access to infrastructure, but they also help companies secure the dozens and dozens of applications running inside their organizations.

We see an opportunity to work closely together with Okta to build joint solutions that not only protect companies and all their stakeholders but also enable them to recover more quickly from unexpected data compromises. 

How is HYCU working with Okta? What support do you look for in a corporate partner?

From a technology standpoint, today, we enable our customers to centrally manage access to HYCU Protégé through Okta’s identity and management platform and Single Sign-On capabilities. By combining the power of Okta’s identity management platform with HYCU’s visionary multi-cloud data protection platform, organizations can be confident that 1) data protection workloads are protected against ransomware events and 2) only those who are authorized to manage air-gapped and immutable backups have access to data protection workloads and can set backup and recovery policies.

When working with a corporate partner like Okta, we look at multiple factors. First, we want to make sure our corporate values and mission align in terms of how we want to support our customers. Next, we ensure our joint solution provides value to the customer—i.e., making them more secure without adding additional complexity. Finally, we ensure there is alignment on how we take our products to market, so we can jointly support each other’s growth.

What trends do you expect to see in the data protection industry?

Over the last decade, there’s been a huge uptick in the use of SaaS applications. According to Statista, there are 17,000 SaaS applications and databases offered by organizations operating in the U.S. alone today, and the average business uses more than 150 of them. This means that IT teams have lost a lot of control over the company’s data estate to outside vendors who aren’t responsible for protecting and backing up critical data. 

Companies are beginning to realize that they need to take back control of their data from SaaS vendors to ensure that it is secure and recoverable. Data protection solutions will play a key role in that; however, the legacy model of data protection no longer works. With more than a hundred data sources, it is unrealistic to believe that a company is going to have a different backup vendor for every source of data. 

We are also seeing a rise in ransomware attacks, and the statistics are staggering. A ransomware attack takes place every 11 seconds, and there were 236.1 million attacks in the first half of 2022 alone. And according to our recently commissioned Ransomware Preparedness Report, 63% of enterprise organizations are increasing spending on detection, prevention, and recovery. Not only that, but they are also beginning to understand that only air-gapped or immutable backups can ensure that the backups themselves don’t fall prey to encryption worms when ransomware hits. 

As much as prevention and detection are important in the fight against ransomware, organizations will only be truly prepared for an inevitable attack when they can quickly restore ransomed data from backup—in minutes, not weeks. A recent study from Splunk indicated that only 33% of businesses surveyed that experienced a ransomware attack were able to avoid the ransom and restore from backup.

The only way this gets better—and how we’re helping at HYCU—is by making data protection and disaster recovery as effortless as possible for organizations of all sizes to ensure they can recover quickly in the event of a ransomware attack.

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