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Bocada names new CEO, hitches hopes to Microsoft

As Bocada adds policy management to its data protection software, some observers say that Bocada survives only because its software is sold through the Microsoft channel.

Data protection management company Bocada Inc. has made its second CEO swap since 2006, promoting former vice president of marketing and business development Nancy Hurley to the top spot.

Hurley has been primarily responsible for Bocada's partnership with Microsoft, a relationship that is credited with Bocada's survival in a meager market for third-party data protection management products. "If it weren't for the relationship with Microsoft, they'd probably already be out of business," said analyst Eric Burgener, Taneja Group. "That's been a lifeline that has kept that company afloat."

Bocada's Enterprise for Data Protection Manager 2007 software is the first module in the company's revamped Unified Management Platform. The software, which began shipping in the first quarter, added monitoring capabilities and policy management to its reporting features. "One of the bigger gaps we identified in the market was the ability to control the protection of a workload from end to end," Hurley said. "We wanted to move from strict reporting and analysis to more control over policy management."

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That said, trying to integrate those features with every product on the market wasn't feasible, Hurley said. That led to the focus on Microsoft. Bocada is now brought into the picture through Microsoft's channel and has shifted from an all-direct sales model to a channel-only sales model. "We're also now talking to Exchange and SQL [Server] admins," Hurley said. "We've broadened our audience and potential target market outside [of] just the backup group."

Bocada's not the only company with that idea; such cross-domain management is also what EMC has in mind for WysDM, the data protection management company that EMC acquired a month ago. Observers say that Bocada's best hope is to continue partnering with or be acquired by a big company like Microsoft. Currently, major players with backup products that don't have data protection management include Hewlett-Packard, IBM and CA. There were persistent rumors in the industry last year that IBM was on the verge of acquiring Bocada, but nothing ever came of it.

Asked if she's seeking buyers for the company, Hurley said, "We have the full backing from the board to move ahead with this strategy." While the CEO switch seems sudden, it's been planned for months, she said. "The day I walked in the door, my role was, 'Where do we go from here?'" But, she added, "We're venture-funded -- if someone says they want to acquire us and the money's right, it's not my choice."

According to some analysts, there isn't much of a market for standalone data protection management software, because leading backup products, including EMC's Networker, CommVault's Simpana and Symantec's NetBackup, have folded in their own backup reporting features.

While large organizations tend to run more than one data protection tool, it doesn't mean they're willing to introduce more software into the mix for everything, said Burgener. "Of the Fortune 1000 companies I've talked to, I can't think of one that's using [data protection management] across all backup tools," he said. "If they buy it, they tend to deploy it against one mission-critical tool in their environment."

In a down economy, most customers also don't want to bring in another vendor or pay for a "nice-to-have" tool, Burgener said. In additon, many large companies are squeezing out companies like Bocada giving away their backup reporting. As Hurley notes, "It's hard to compete with free."

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