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Forrester Wave shows newcomers edging out legacy vendors

Well-funded startups moved up in the 2019 Forrester Wave, while most legacy vendors dropped. Cyberattack recoverability and single-pane-of-glass management were leading factors.

Forrester Research's latest Wave report on data protection points to a new wave of vendors jumping ahead of the old guard.

The analyst firm claims these newer players are actively addressing two of the most critical customer concerns: ransomware recoverability and simpler management.

The Forrester Wave: Data Resiliency Solutions, Q3 2019, listed Commvault, Veeam, Rubrik and Cohesity as leaders in the space, the latter two of which were newcomers to the report. Druva also made its first appearance in the Forrester Wave as a strong performer.

Commvault has been around for more than two decades, but the other leaders have arrived in the virtualization and cloud eras. Meanwhile, more established backup vendors such as IBM, Dell EMC and Veritas lost ground since the last report in 2017.

Forrester Wave author Naveen Chhabra, a Forrester senior analyst, said he took into consideration how vendors are addressing where the market is moving.

This means looking at their capabilities for digital transformation, adoption of public cloud and new workloads such as containers.

"It's about rethinking how the data protection world will operate in the next two years," Chhabra said. "The old ways of doing stuff are gone. We need to put some fresh energy behind solving these problems. That's where the vendors like Rubrik and Cohesity are catching up."

The "strategy" axis on the Forrester Wave measures criteria such as go-to-market strategy, partnership strategy, how it uniquely brings value to customers, how it envisions and anticipates the challenges of tomorrow and invests in answering those challenges.

Headshot of Naveen ChhabraNaveen Chhabra

Chhabra summarized the strategy measurement as, "How likely is this company to succeed?"

This axis has seen the most movement since the 2017 Forrester Wave. Back then, Veritas ranked highest in strategy ahead of Commvault, and both were considered leaders in the industry. They were followed by IBM, Actifio, Veeam, Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

In the 2019 Forrester Wave, Rubrik has the highest ranking on the strategy scale, followed by Commvault, Cohesity and Druva. Veritas not only fell to the fifth position on that scale, but slipped out of the leader portion of the wave. It is currently considered a strong performer, alongside Actifio and Druva. IBM and Micro Focus (which bought HPE's software business) are listed as contenders, and Dell EMC is a challenger.

Chhabra said the newcomers have the legacy vendors beat in single-pane-of-glass management. Customers are looking for ways to protect their various environments and data sources without introducing additional layers of complexity. While legacy vendors may have products or features to "tick off all the boxes," they introduce new products instead of integrating them into an existing product.

"That's a pain. As a data protection owner, I don't want to deal with nine different point products," Chhabra said. "That's where you see the differences from vendors like Cohesity and Rubrik, and Druva to some extent as well."

Another significant criterion is the way vendors deal with the threat of ransomware attacks. Chhabra said customer demand has shifted from detection and prevention of attacks to ensuring recoverability.

"Since January, almost all client discussions have had this topic in common: 'I need to recover, tell me how,'" Chhabra said.

The Forrester Wave put significant weight on vendors that could assure an organization's last line of defense would work. It isn't enough that a data protection vendor can make backup copies to recover from -- they should also provide visibility into what is recoverable and what isn't during a crisis, Chhabra said. He added that products that detect ransomware after the fact wouldn't score well in this area.

Chhabra predicted that other data protection trends that will emerge in the next two years include data reuse, such as for test/dev purposes, and data protection for new environments such as Kubernetes. Chhabra said these aren't a big deal now, as 80% to 90% of use cases today are still backup and recovery, and container adoption is still low. However, he expects these will matter soon, and backup vendors should pay attention to them.

Veeam, Rubrik, Cohesity, Druva and Actifio have raised funding rounds ranging from $106 million to $500 million since June of 2018. Investors have poured more than $1 billion into those privately held companies in that period.

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