Was EMC’s acquisition of Data Domain a sign of desperation?

A blogger over at Seeking Alpha makes this case.  He argues that EMC must make acquisitions for growth and that the excessive price paid for Data Domain deal is a sign of desperation.

To summarize the post, the author suggests that the growth in EMC’s core storage business is slowing and that they must look for ways to accelerate growth.  The blogger believes that EMC will pursue an M&A strategy to remedy the situation and thinks that the Data Domain  acquisition is a sign of desperation because of the excessively high price paid and the limited revenue and profit contribution.  The author illustrates his point with numerous charts and graphs.

What do you think?

General Marketing

W. Curtis Preston Now with TechTarget

About a week ago, Curtis posted on his blog that he is joining TechTarget as an Executive Editor which essentially means that he will continue to present at various events. He is still an independent consultant and can keep working on his other projects including his Mr. Backup Blog and BackupCentral.

In my opinion, this is a great outcome for both TechTarget and Curtis. The Backup/Deduplication schools will benefit from Curtis’s continued tenure as a featured speaker. He is an engaging presenter and provides a balanced perspective. It is also beneficial for Curtis because he is free to pursue his personal and business interests.

A big congratulations to both TechTarget and Curtis!


SEPATON Announcement

SEPATON recently announced fourth quarter results in this release. I am not going to repeat the content here, but wanted to highlight that the company had a record Q4 and achieved an important milestone.

I am excited about the prospects for SEPATON in 2009. Don’t get me wrong, 2009 is likely to be a tough year for all vendors, but those companies with compelling products and value propositions will fare better in these difficult times. SEPATON is uniquely positioned with our core focus on Scale-Out Deduplication™ for the enterprise.

Deduplication General Marketing

Surviving A Down Economy – A vendor Perspective

The outlook on the economy continues to be less than stellar. The National Bureau of Economic Research formally declared that we are in a recession. Thanks guys for stating the obvious! Tough times create difficulties for everyone. We have already seen vendors including NetApp, Quantum and Copan announcing cutbacks. Sequoia Capital added to the bleak forecast with their gloomy outlook slide deck. The big question is what does this mean to technology vendors?

In these difficult times, companies must focus on their bottom line. Every technology purchase will be scrutinized and the payback must be clearly quantified. As I posted previously, ROI is vital.

The good news for data protection companies is that data volumes do not go down in a recession and retention times do not shorten. The current difficulties in the financial sector suggest that we may see even stricter regulations and longer retentions. Deduplication-enabled solutions can still thrive in this environment because they provide compelling value. They reduce backup administration time and cost  while dramatically lowering acquisition cost. However, remember that not all systems are alike and you must consider future performance and capacity requirements. Adding multiple independent systems will negatively impact ROI. The result is that scalable deduplication solutions like those sold by SEPATON can provide strong ROIs and thus can weather the storm of a tough economy better than other technologies with weaker value propositions.

Recently, an independent market research firm who reviews the purchasing trends of companies of all sizes told us that their research indicates that companies over-purchased primary storage in the first half of 2008 and that the outlook for this sector was gloomy. In contrast, deduplication technology was the one bright spot. So far our experience has suggested that their analysis is accurate.

A difficult economy is a test of everyone’s staying power. Companies are scrutinizing every purchase and focus only on those technologies that provide truly compelling value. Deduplication enabled solutions are fortunate because of the value they bring. This is not to say that these technologies are immune, but rather that they will fare better than most.


10 Things I Am Thankful For

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to reflect on things that you are thankful for and so I figured that this would be a great topic for my one blog post this week.

1. That the Somali pirates have not hijacked SEPATON although Bloomberg suggests in a humorous press release that Citibank may be in their sights.
2. That the backup guy is no longer treated like an ugly step child and locked in the tape silo when naughty.
3. That data retention requirements are likely to get even stricter thanks to our friends on Wall Street.
4. I have a job.
5. My job is not selling Rube Goldberg contraptions.
6. Data Domain has spent millions educating the market on why dedupe matters but only offers solutions for SMBs.
7. That all those cubicle gophers are still jacking up their company’s capacity requirements by downloading, sharing and storing all of their personal MP3s, videos and photos.
8. That gas prices have declined so I no longer have to skateboard to work.
9. Our VTL is so easy to install and operate that a consultant with no SEPATON experience set it up and got it running in 15 minutes.
10. That the loud CS guy who sat across from me was relocated to the broom closet. 🙂

Feel free to post what you are thankful for in the comments. Have a great Thanksgiving.

General Marketing

How a lack of innovation put Overland under water

I wanted to post a quick commentary on Overland Data.

I recently ran across this post over at The Register that discusses the fact that Overland Data is at risk of being delisted from the NASDAQ due to a stock price below $1. (Ticker: OVRL, currently $.45)

In a past life, I sold Overland products and was very familiar with their tape and disk systems. They were one of the first companies to provide a cost effective D2D solution targeted at data protection. In 2003, they unveiled the REO 2000 product and 7 months later, they released the REO 4000 which provided greater capacity and scalability. Overland was on a roll with the new REO appliances, generating industry buzz and excitement while their tape library business remained strong.

Fast forward five years, and Overland’s situation looks bleak. Their D2D products have stagnated and their tape business has collapsed. Along the way, they have made a number of false starts including the purchase of Zetta Systems and the launch of the Ultamus array, which they later silently pulled from the market.

Situations like these make you realize the importance of innovation. Initially, Overland was very successful with their disk products, but were unable to maintain their position. As the market innovated, they did not and their financial and business performance suffered. Their current situation is a reminder that you must innovate or risk suffering a similar fate. Steve Jobs said this eloquently:

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

I feel fortunate to be working for a company that has a long history of innovation in data protection and there are more exciting things to come…

General recognition

W. Curtis Preston the author of the Mr. Backup Blog recently posted an article about the blogs that he frequents. I was honored that he recognized along with blogs from other major vendors.

Curtis mentioned his frustration with the comment filtering policies on some blogs and I wanted to clarify’s policy. (A synopsis of the policy is contained in the disclaimer in the sidebar.) Comments are not moderated; whatever you post appears on the site instantly. I have little interest in censorship; however, I reserve the right to delete comments containing abusive or personal attacks. I hope I never have to use my power of deletion, but as Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker/Spiderman:

With great power comes great responsibility.

Now back to regularly scheduled programming…..

Deduplication General Marketing

Exchange deduplication ratio guarantee

Scott over at EMC recently posted his thoughts about deduplication ratios and how they vary widely. I agree with his assessment that compression ratios, change rates and retention are key ingredients in deduplication ratios. However, he makes a global statement, “If you don’t know those three things, you simply cannot state a deduplication ratio with any level of honesty….It is impossible”, and uses this point to suggest that SEPATON’s Exchange guarantee program is “ridiculous”. Obviously the blogger, being an EMC employee, brings his own perspectives as do I, a SEPATON employee. Let’s dig into this a bit more.

As the original author mentioned, the key metrics for deduplication include compression, change rate and retention. Clearly these can vary by data types; however, certain data types provide more consistent deduplication results. As you can imagine, these are applications that are backed up fully every night, have fixed data structures and relatively low data change rates. Some examples include Exchange, Oracle, VMware and others.

Backup General Restore

Why is this blog called About Restore?

You might be wondering why I choose the name About Restore for this blog.  The primary objective of data protection is restore. Sure you backup data every night, but you do this so you can restore the data. A recent situation reminded me of this.

I manage numerous programs and one of my responsibilities is an internal portal.  One morning, I found that the portal was inaccessible and the primary culprit seemed to be database corruption.  I had a manual backup, but it was old and so I called my IT department to ask about restoring the data.  As it turned out, my server was older and had never held critical data and so was being not backed up.  (My data is important, but certainly the company won’t come screeching to a halt without it…)  Uggghhh.  The goods news is that I later realized that the problem was due to a minor misconfiguration and my data was intact.

I bring the above story to illustrate a simple point.  Restore is what’s most important.  Sure, you need to backup data every night, but you do it to enable restores.  So as you are going through your daily protection activities remember, it is about restore!

BTW, have you conducted a restore test recently?


Welcome to the new blog!

This blog will focus on the industry where I work, Storage and more specifically data protection.  The comments here are my own.  Comments and feedback are always welcome.