The Next Act: CommVault and the Cloud

Posted 03/30/2015 by Sabrinath Rao

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My first few months at Commvault have been a lot like leading the production team of the next big movie, "Taking Commvault to the Cloud." With so many exciting milestones ahead, I wanted to take you on this journey with me and am kick starting a blog series with some thoughts on where we are going and why. I also want to encourage you to come back and visit these pages frequently, as various members of the team will be sharing the details of what we are doing over the next several weeks.

So, what is the 'Commvault and the Cloud' story? And why are we doing this now?

Our customers are taking us into the cloud

This comes as no surprise, but bears repeating. Every customer I speak with is working through how cloud infrastructure is going to impact them. Both in terms of strategically where does it fit, and tactically, how do we make it work and for which applications and use cases. What are customers telling us?

The move to the cloud is accelerating. If I consider some of the numbers put out by leading analyst firms, somewhere in the range of 30 million – 35 million net new VMs will be added on to the on-premises infrastructure this year. This is on top of an estimated 140 MM – 160 MM VMs that are already under management on-prem. And these staggering numbers do not include the 5 – 7 million VMs created on public cloud infrastructures. As a result of this growth, the following has emerged:

1. Virtual infrastructure has matured enough where enterprises are putting business critical systems on their virtualized infrastructure

2. Virtualization is mainstream in the mid-market and SMB

3. Cloud is the predominant consumption model for enterprise dev/test

What do we think this means for our business?

Part of the success we are seeing at Commvault stems from our approach that backup or, for that matter, recovery, cannot be seen in its own right. It is always about optimizing data management services for the workload IT supports. We built deep relationships with the workloads, and now as they get virtualized and adopt modern infrastructure like all flash storage, or public cloud infrastructure, we continue to remain a critical component and in many cases an enabling component. Today at 21 vendors and growing, we are the leading provider for data management software optimized for cloud storage platforms.

Public cloud is part of virtually every customer conversation we are engaged in today. Cloud storage as a backup target has been core to our solutions for a while now.

Public and hybrid clouds have definitely graduated from skunk-works projects and departmental projects within enterprises, into the main stream datacenter. And with that, customers tell me that they want to graduate beyond backup to the cloud. Cloud as a deployment model offers them flexibility. They want to get more out of their investments, but they are also cautious with how soon they move, and what they move. We actively recommend a hybrid approach. For us, this means taking our existing leadership position – such as cross platform automation - and extending it to the cloud. With this in mind we are aggressively investing into automated data protection for public cloud like Amazon and Microsoft Azure.

Of course, the ultimate goal is for the application to live in the cloud. Many of our customers are not only moving workloads to the cloud, but are also creating workloads in the cloud and in many cases consuming SaaS applications. To address their challenges, we will also be protecting and recovering workloads in the cloud as well as integrating with popular SaaS applications.

We’re addressing the next wave of challenges in the cloud

As customers move to the cloud – key concerns such as security, trust and complexity have been accentuated. We are continually innovating address those concerns.

There are two key emerging challenges we are going to start addressing head-on that other vendors have not yet really addressed. The guys at Forbes summed up the emerging issues pretty well. First is what do we do with data once it is in the cloud. Getting data into the cloud is a given at this point. Customers are there already and many vendors have solutions to help get their customers in to the cloud. But that’s only half the job. Once data is in the cloud – what next? What do we do with that data? Customers continue to get hit sideways with unexpected egress fees, or recovery/restore times that are much longer than they expected, or procedures that remain complex, manual and time consuming for turning data sitting on low cost cloud storage into an information asset that is useful for business decision making.

Secondly, as customers mainstream public cloud, it is exposing holes in the maturity of their management processes and controls. The shift from a CapEx – to an OpEx model is wonderful, because now they have the ability (at least in theory) to build a datacenter with a credit card. That is truly powerful – until the bills start showing up. Management process and controls have certainly not matured for mainstream cloud adoption. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal summed up the issues for customers very well. Developers are spinning up VMs at will and not taking down workloads when they are done. And then come the bills. Ever turn on the sprinkler and forget to turn it off overnight? And oh! Wait for that dreaded $2000 water bill.

We’re delivering on our promises

Cool technology remains cool only when you get it into the hands of the customer, packaged in the right form and priced appropriately. Last fall, with the launch of the VM Backup and Recovery solution set, we proved that Commvault can remain nimble and keep up with evolving customer requirements around consumption models. That offering, specifically targeted to the Virtualized user, and priced and packaged appropriately, has quickly emerged as one of the fastest growing products in Commvault’s history.

Now we are going to turn it up a notch and do the same thing in the cloud space along three key lines covering:

1) Backup to the Cloud

2) Disaster Recovery in the Cloud

3) Development and test in the Cloud

I won’t divulge too much more than this for now, but look for more information soon from my team, where we will share details on each of these areas both in terms of the product offerings, as well as some really new technologies we are bringing forward that will help make these solutions an operational reality.

Set stage and turn on the lights!

To sum it all up, our strategy is to capture the workload at the point of creation and attach data management service at that point. Then stay with the workload as it moves between deployment models – from on-premises to hosted private cloud to hybrid and public clouds.

We have built connections for efficient data movement to the cloud. Data in the cloud is only useful when we are able to do something about it. Our strategy is to introduce solutions that make that data useful in the cloud – starting with backup and disaster recovery, then fast cycling into more advanced use cases like dev/test solutions and more.

Just like the production crew on this summer’s blockbuster movie sets, we have gathered the best and brightest – both internally and within our ecosystem of partners – to bring together some truly unique and valuable solutions for customers looking to operationalize the cloud infrastructure they are building and to truly get more out of their cloud. You’ll hear much more from me and my team as we bring these solutions to market in the very near future.

Sabrinath Rao is Sr. Director and Head of the Cloud Business Unit at CommVault.