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Catalogic sells ECX copy data management software to IBM

Catalogic Software has divested its ECX product to long-time storage hardware partner IBM and will now focus on its CloudCasa Kubernetes data protection service.

Sensing a future in the cloud, Catalogic Software sold its flagship ECX copy data management software to IBM and will use the proceeds to further develop its CloudCasa product.

Catalogic ECX was the company's flagship CDM software product, capable of creating and managing in-place replicas and clones for backup, test/dev or any other use cases that call for a full virtual copy of production data. The software was commonly sold on IBM Spectrum hardware and is also compatible with NetApp OnTap, HPE Nimble, Pure Storage and Dell EMC Unity.

Catalogic is refocusing its efforts on CloudCasa, its SaaS Kubernetes data protection product. CloudCasa provides backup via container storage interface (CSI) snapshots stored in a Catalogic-managed cloud. It uses agents installed in customers' Kubernetes clusters to take CSI snapshots, and customers can set snapshot policies and initiate restore jobs on a web-based dashboard.

CloudCasa, which started as an open source project called KubeDR, launched into beta in November and became generally available in February. The move to sell its flagship product to fund investment into a new one is unusual, but Catalogic was committed to the cloud when it developed CloudCasa, said COO Sathya Sankaran. There is a clear trend of customer data moving from on premises to cloud, and proceeds from the sale would give Catalogic the resources to develop along that trend.

"When we built CloudCasa, we made a stance for cloud-native. There is a cloud-first approach for the company going forward," Sankaran said.

Catalogic is also transforming from a product company to a SaaS company, Sankaran added. Catalogic can better address market needs with an app-centric data protection approach rather than a hardware-centric one. Shedding ECX makes sense for this strategy as -- despite being a software product -- it was never hardware-agnostic and worked on only the hardware platforms with which Catalogic partnered.

The sale of ECX included Catalogic staff that worked closely on the product, including QA testers and product managers. As a result, roughly half of Catalogic's staff now work at IBM, Sankaran said.

Catalogic's portfolio now consists of only CloudCasa and its DPX data protection product.

ECX customers can continue to reach out to Catalogic for product support for at least a few more years, despite it no longer being a Catalogic product. For now, ECX customers can rest assured they will still be getting support from product experts at Catalogic, Sankaran said, and IBM will decide when exactly it will assume full support responsibility.

On-premises data protection is still necessary and will still see adoption in the foreseeable future, but there's an undeniable push to the cloud, said Krista Macomber, senior analyst at Evaluator Group. Data protection companies see this and are trying to carve out a niche in the container and cloud-native space as it emerges, which is what's happening with Catalogic.

Containers and Kubernetes are coming down the pike -- if they aren't already a reality -- for enterprises, so there needs to be a focus here on the part of data protection vendors.
Krista MacomberSenior analyst, Evaluator Group

"Containers and Kubernetes are coming down the pike -- if they aren't already a reality -- for enterprises, so there needs to be a focus here on the part of data protection vendors," Macomber said.

In a company blog, IBM said Catalogic Software's products have served as "important" development resources for IBM's storage technologies over the past few years, most notably IBM Spectrum Protect Plus and a number of copy data management solutions.

The company plans to integrate the newly acquired data protection and cyber resiliency technologies into its recently announced IBM Spectrum Fusion line of container-native software defined storage offering.

With IBM's existing relationship with Catalogic that allows Big Blue to sell ECX under its own brand, one reason IBM purchased the technology was to protect the investments its customers have made in its storage hardware products. The move also makes sense, given IBM's increasing focus on storage as a strategically important technology going forward.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna so far in his tenure has carefully considered the specific value acquisitions that might have in some bigger-picture strategy in the future, said Judith Hurwitz, president of Hurwitz & Associates. She suspects the Catalogic offerings will indeed fill in some missing pieces for the company's longer-term storage plans.

Frank Dzubeck, president of Communications Network Architects Inc., added that another reason the deal may have been attractive to IBM is Catalogic simply wanted to exit the market that ECX competes in, and IBM couldn't turn down an attractive purchase price.

"It might be a situation where they [Catalogic] were going to pull the plug on the product, and figured it could be an inexpensive way to offload the product to a company they already had a relationship with and who could support it," Dzubeck said.

TechTarget editor at large Ed Scannell contributed to this story.

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