CommVault CEO: Enterprise cloud backup now 'pervasive'

CommVault CEO Bob Hammer talks enterprise cloud backup, data protection on mobile devices, and upcoming Simpana 10 enhancements.

In this age of multiple data protection products, CommVault takes a different approach by integrating backup, archiving, disaster recovery and data management into one platform. We recently spoke with CommVault CEO Bob Hammer about this strategy, the upcoming release of Simpana 10 R2, and the way enterprises have begun to embrace public clouds for data protection.

What new developments are you seeing in enterprise data protection?

Hammer: What has changed is the consideration of public clouds, and that's moving quickly now. In almost all enterprises -- and we didn't see this a year ago -- companies want the option to move certain use cases seamlessly into public clouds with the same secure access and insights as they have in private clouds. That puts CommVault in a unique position because we can manage across any devices, we can automate any processes, and we can move data seamlessly between these storage entities and the public cloud.

Are enterprises moving to public clouds like Amazon and Google, or using managed service providers (MSPs)?

Hammer: Both. For certain use cases people are looking at public cloud today where you didn't see that six to nine months ago. It's pervasive now.

What data are they backing up to the cloud?

Hammer: It's not so much core data protection. That is still going into private clouds. But big enterprises are looking at putting things like archiving and dev/test in the cloud. Others are looking at it more holistically. But it depends on scale because you still have to move data in and out of these public clouds, and you have to look at cost/performance tradeoffs and latency issues. But every customer I'm involved with now is looking at a combination of those private cloud and public clouds or MSPs. All of that is in play at these major accounts today. And it's critically important in their decision-making that -- even if they're not going to move right away -- that you have the capability to move data into the cloud.

That means you have to have very comprehensive technology to manage data as an object, both real time and historically. If it comes from an application, you need to know what application it comes from, what version it is, who's data is it, who has access to it. It has to be source-side deduped, and if it's encrypted, who has the key? It has to be direct access, it can't be going through the application. All those things are critical. And you have to manage all of the copies -- the data protection copy, the archive copy, the native copy where somebody wants to use the native production copy for certain use cases. All of those things are important.

You talk about managing live native copies of data. Is that similar to what Actifio is doing?

Hammer: Like Actifio does, or what Veeam does at the lower end of the VM administrator market. But we use different technology. It's all software-based, and it's much more comprehensive.

How are customers using private clouds for backup?

Hammer: The big driver there continues to be the IT infrastructure consolidation that companies are going through. They want to bring data management under a single platform with global management. They want to consolidate and automate their compliance needs, and the archiving and content indexing that goes with that. They want to make sure it's auditable, and when you do that, you have to bring data that's in mobile devices under the same management construct. But those things haven't changed much over the past year.

Are most of your customers using other backup products, too?

Hammer: I'll give you an example of a recent customer, a company that had [Dell] vRanger, EVault, Solar Winds, [Riverbed] Whitewater, [EMC] Data Domain and DD Boost, [IBM] TSM, [Symantec] Backup Exec and NetBackup. And we replaced all that with CommVault, on physical servers and VMware.

How are your customers dealing with mobile backup?

Hammer: Mobile is a big issue. In a mobile device, you need to protect the data, you need to archive it, you need to provide the user direct access to his or her data, and you need to enable the user to sync files across different devices. If I'm on an iPad and making changes to a PowerPoint, it has to sync with other devices. And you have to enable cloud sharing. And then you need certain management capabilities like automatically provisioning those devices, automatically decommissioning those devices, and you want to make sure you can delete data if it gets lost or somebody leaves the company. When we go in, we are competing with non-certified use cases of product like Dropbox or Box.net, or a company like Druva. That's another series of products we go in to replace. For us, everything is one virtual repository and it's all single management.

Do you do file sync and share yet?

Hammer: We do file sync now, and file share will come out in July. It's part of Simpana 10 R2.

What else can you say about the Simpana 10 R2 release?

Hammer: What's really important is what we're doing with virtualization, particularly the ability to go out and auto-provision in the cloud. We'll be able to auto-provision VMs, applications, and storage, and then take the data for a certain use case and make sure that data is protected. Then we'll automatically archive that virtual machine, so the user is not paying for capacity in the cloud that's not being used. Think of it as automatically provisioning it, bringing it up and being able to archive it as well so you can use it for disaster recovery.

If I want to move data that's on premise or on a device, we can automatically provision those virtual machines or storage, move the data to the cloud, and leave it there.

You also have plans for a cloud gateway, right?

Hammer: We're coming out later in the summer with appliances that we've engineered that will be provided by partners. Those appliances can be used for backup, dedupe, data protection, archiving, and also as gateways to move data to the cloud.

They'll be integrated appliances with your software on partners' hardware?

Hammer: Correct.

Do you have any appliance partners lined up yet?

Hammer: One is already out there [StorServer]. There will be one major one coming this summer, and others will follow. The next one will be a global partner and then another one will be specific to a region. Then later in the year, another global partner will come in.

Will there be a new pricing model with R2?

Hammer: We are keeping our pricing models but we are adding standalone pricing for modules such as email archiving and mobile for somebody who just wants to buy those products versus our core data protection program. Today, for instance, we sell mobile as part of our capacity model, but we'll add an enhanced mobile solution that can be purchased on a per user per month basis. Users want to buy it that way. We're coming out with products that can be more easily sold through a high velocity reseller channel, for example a virtual machine product priced competitively for that segment of the market. Our core model will stay in place but these additional modules are better priced and more competitively positioned.

You talked about cloud use becoming pervasive in enterprises. What about with SMBs?

Hammer: We believe most of the SMB market is going to move to cloud managed service providers, including public cloud providers. And I'd say it will happen fairly quickly. But companies still buy SMB products, and in July we are coming out with standalone products that will be more effective for our channel partners and priced more competitively for that segment. But that is the smaller component of our business.

Will the SMB product be scaled down Simpana or a different platform?

Hammer: It's all scaled down, all Simpana, and it all can be hooked into the platform.

You often talk about CommVault's goal to be a $1 billion a year revenue company. Last year your revenue was $586 million. How long will it take to hit $1 billion?

Hammer: I don't think it will take that long. We'll be there in the next few years. I think we will surprise people, achieve that objective, and put the company in position to achieve our next milestone, $2 billion. And I'm talking about with products we built and developed. We won't use any acquisitions to make those milestones.

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