W. Curtis Preston recently posted a blog entry in response to my earlier post entitled Will dedicated VMware protection solutions go the way of CDP. Curtis clearly had strong opinions on the issue and his thorough write-up is appreciated. I think that there is a disconnect here and wanted to clarify my thoughts.
I agree with Curtis’s detailed analysis of CDP technology, but my point was simply that three years ago CDP was hot. Regardless of whether, there were 5 or 5,000 customers, the technology was the talk of the industry. At the time, new CDP vendors were frequently appearing and existing companies were trying to position their solutions as “CDP-like”. The hype machine was in full motion and it spanned the industry.
Curtis and I agree that not many systems were sold and that the buzz far exceeded the substance. When the hysteria cooled, few of the companies were left standing with the majority of them either being acquired by larger vendors or disappearing. The acquirers packaged these solutions into technologies that are available today such as RecoverPoint from EMC (Kashya acquisition) or Symantec’s NetBackup RealTime (Revivio acquisition). These larger vendors are well positioned to sell the solutions since they have a substantial installed base of data protection customers. (Symantec has a better position since the technology is an add-on option for current Backup Exec users.)
My post suggested that a similar consolidation could occur in the VMware backup space. Server virtualization is an incredibly hot area and protecting VMware servers is a huge problem with real pain. Backup vendors must recognize the disruptive nature of VMware data protection and the importance of optimizing their applications for virtual datacenters. At the same time, VMware has acknowledged the challenge of protecting virtual environments and is developing new technologies (such as VADP) to simplify the process. The incumbent backup ISVs will adopt VMware’s new technologies and will leverage their existing customer relationships and footprints.
The new VM-centric backup providers are in an interesting position between incumbent backup ISVs with large installed bases and broad support for physical and virtual environments and VMware. VMware is enhancing VM data protection with features like VADP and the backup ISVs are trying to enhance their products through VADP support and other technologies. The VM-focused companies must differentiate from both. They have better technology today, but will improvements by both VMware and the backup ISVs erode that leadership? (VMware through VADP and ISVs through their backup apps.) The problem that the VMware backup vendors face is the challenge of “good enough.” They must innovate well beyond what VMware and the backup ISVs can offer or risk being disintermediated by the larger companies who have massive sales teams and installed bases and solutions that are “good enough.”