Commvault big bet

I woke up at 2.59am in the morning of Sept 5th morning, a bit discombobulated and quickly jumped into the Commvault call. The damn alarm rang and I slept through it, but I got up just in time for the 3am call.

As I was going through the motion of getting onto UberConference, organized by GestaltIT, I was already sensing something big. In the call, Commvault was acquiring Hedvig and it hit me. My drowsy self centered to the big news. And I saw a few guys from Veritas and Cohesity on my social media group making gestures about the acquisition.

I spent the rest of the week thinking about the acquisition. What is good? What is bad? How is Commvault going to move forward? This is at pressing against the stark background from the rumour mill here in South Asia, just a week before this acquisition news, where I heard that the entire Commvault teams in Malaysia and Asia Pacific were released. I couldn’t confirm the news in Asia Pacific, but the source of the news coming from Malaysia was strong and a reliable one.

What is good?

It is a big win for Hedvig. Nestled among several scale-out primary storage vendors and little competitive differentiation, this Commvault acquisition is Hedvig’s pay day.

The secondary hyperconverged platforms market has been heating up with Rubrik and Cohesity. Both have tacitly announced there is more to backup. Hybrid data management can be seamless across premises, but more important is both technologies are unearthing new values to secondary data.

This is still a nascent market, and Commvault has responded with their Hyperscale product more than a year back. It is a great product but it lacks a strong integration with the cloud. Hedvig brings that advantageous value of the cloud, even multi-cloud, to the Hyperscale and to Commvault. Given Hedvig’s software technology play as a unified primary storage, the seamless integration between primary and secondary storage platforms in the near future will give Commvault a strong proposition in the datacenters and the clouds. Even more so will be Hedvig’s bridge to the cloud providers, and inadvertently a ubiquitous software-defined tierless storage data fabric.

What is bad?

This is not Commvault usual cup of tea. Commvault has been complacent for some time now, and their last Q1 numbers bombed. In recent years, this has allowed folks like Veeam to chew off a significant bite of the virtualized workload backup and secondary data market. Commvault has responded but the market shift towards newer players has already begun. The secondary storage market of backup and archive has changed. Commvault is seen as an industry laggard, much like Veritas Technologies, archaic and expensive.

Commvault has to deal its cards right with the Hedvig acquisition. How is Commvault going to convince their stronger primary storage partners like NetApp and Hitachi that their Hedvig primary storage play is no threat? How is Commvault going to retool its sales team to pitch primary storage disguised as a secondary storage play?

In the end, after the dust settles, what exactly does Commvault want to be seen as, to customers, to partners and to the industry as a whole?

How is Commvault going to move forward?

I like Hedvig. I was at Storage Field Day 15 when the Hedvig team shared their technology with the delegates. Even though I did not blog about them, their technology had strong footing and foundation, thanks the pedigree brought in by CEO and Founder, Avinash Lakshman. What was lacking to me at the time was their market differentiation.

With the Hedvig acquisition, I am keen to see Commvault take bolder steps to explore these few opportunities.

Cloud Data Protection: I like what I see in Zerto, Druva and Clumio. Zerto inspired and energized the DR-as-a-Service market a few years ago and this brought in affordable DR technology with folks like iland, Datto, Infrascale and more.

Data silos/Data Fragmentation/Dark Data: The data silos, the data fragmentation and the dark data story has been played over and over again. If Commvault decides to be THE REPOSITORY of all data in an organization, they will have a strong message to pitch.

The Hadoop void: The Hadoop HDFS platform is imploding and fast. Many are already pitching object-based storage as an even better alternative. The data lake needs an economical yet performant storage platform for THE REPOSITORY of all data. Hedvig object storage can be the answer to capture the Hadoop opportunities falling from grace.

The proverbial data analytics: This is where THE REPOSITORY of all data should lead to. Commvault now has most of the parts to deliver more. The journey for data analytics started when Commvault Activate was announced last year. It is time to take this further, and given Avinash’s background in Dynamo and Cassandra, Commvault has the guru to take data analytics storage to the next level.

Wrapping it all up

It is a whole new world out there today. Data is everywhere, on premises, in the clouds, on edge devices. A deluge of data is coming which will even more devastating if it is not managed well.

At the moment, the Hedvig acquisition isn’t a panacea to Commvault’s woes, but it can be a progressive remediation to build a stronger Commvault.

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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 25+ years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because that is my area of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to *know the facts*, and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and as of October 2013, I have been appointed as SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently run a small system integration and consulting company focusing on storage and cloud solutions, with occasional consulting work on high performance computing (HPC).

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