#139 – Storage Predictions for 2020 (Part II)

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This is the second of our predictions shows for 2020 that anticipates what we can expect in enterprise storage for the year ahead. This episode covers solutions and vendors. We open with a discussion on cloud-native storage, which saw a lot of traction in 2019. Will the future be one of these companies or as Chris says, should we just rely on VMware to underpin our container environments?

The discussion moves on to object storage and in particular a look at a company called MinIO. As an open-source solution with S3 compatibility, MinIO could be the future of general object storage while the other vendors focus specifically on market segments.

Next we look at vendors. Whatever happened to Dell EMC Midrange.NEXT? An announcement was due at the end of January and that looks to be delayed. As the market for enterprise storage consolidates, could HPE need to go on a buying spree?

Finally we look at the data management market. There’s the chance of consolidation or acquisitions here. As it turns out, Veeam has been acquired since we recorded (7th Jan, with Veeam announcement on the 9th). Well done to Chris M for his prescient opinion!

Elapsed Time: 00:31:56

Timeline

  • 00:00:00 – The Briefest of Intros
  • 00:00:30 – Solutions – it’s all about solutions!
  • 00:00:35 – How mature is cloud-native storage?
  • 00:02:10 – Should we just go with vSphere?
  • 00:04:00 – Data persistence is “late” in containerisation
  • 00:06:56 – Cloud-native storage is in a “wait and see” phase
  • 00:07:30 – Where is the Object storage market headed?
  • 00:08:30 – Min-aye-oh or Min-ee-oh?
  • 00:11:54 – Do Microsoft want S3 compatibility (on Azure)?
  • 00:13:15 – VMware seems to be doing OK
  • 00:13:40 – Whatever happened to Dell EMC Midrange.NEXT?
  • 00:15:30 – Introducing launch countdown shirts
  • 00:16:22 – Captain Canada on a high wire!
  • 00:17:50 – What further vendor consolidations will happen in 2020?
  • 00:18:49 – Chris loses focus – does anyone read show notes?
  • 00:19:50 – What is HPE’s storage partnership strategy?
  • 00:21:30 – HPE to buy everyone!
  • 00:24:00 – How could we forget Whiptail?
  • 00:24:52 – Is the data management market overcrowded?
  • 00:27:18 – Is data management too vague a term to align companies?
  • 00:30:15 – How good was our Veeam foresight?
  • 00:31:17 – Wrap up

Timeline

Show More

Announcer: This is Storage Unpacked. Subscribe at storageunpacked.com.

Chris Evans: And here we are with part two of our 2020 predictions. I’ve got Martin with me and I’ve still got Chris with me. At least I hope I’ve got you guys with me, you still there?

Martin: We’re here, we’re here. Yeah.

Chris Evans: Yes, excellent. Brilliant, right, so last time we talked about systems and media, and I’d like us to move on and talk now about solutions.

Martin: Everybody wants to talk about solutions, Chris.

Chris Evans: Of course they do, because that’s what you want to buy. Nobody needs a server if it isn’t part of a solution, so when I say “solutions”, you might not really think they’re solutions. But the first one I want to touch on is cloud native storage. Seems to have become a term this year at KubeCon. There is a cloud native storage day I think now. We’re seeing lots and lots of storage solutions in this area. It just strikes me that we just have a huge amount that are trying to reinvent the storage industry.

Martin: Mr. Mellor, you are out in the States on your press junket, so what did you see in the way of start-ups? Did you see a lot of cloud native storage start-ups, or is it still early days?

Chris Mellor: We saw a lot about cloud native applications. VMware talks a lot about Project Pacific and its cloud native activities around [inaudible 00:01:23]. Portworx talked about its facilities for providing storage for containerized services. MinIO was talking about containerized services for its object storage. Cloud native storage over there, cloud native systems are alive and kicking, and occurring very strongly.

Chris Evans: Do we need so many, though? I mean, does [inaudible 00:01:45] drives [inaudible 00:01:46] and as you said, Portworx, and we’ve got StorageOS in the UK/the US. It seems like there’s a lot of solutions trying to effectively solve the same problem.

Martin: Well, it seems to show that nobody’s got a solution yet, Chris. Nobody quite knows how it’s all going to hang together yet.

Chris Mellor: Maybe the easy thing, the easiest switch for the industry is to just do whatever VMware does, and do your cloud native stuff underneath a VMware umbrella.

Chris Evans: Yeah, I’m not sure I really buy that, because on the one hand, if I’m deploying on something that’s meant to be cloud native and independent, I might want to deploy this in the public cloud, I might want to deploy it on VMware, I might want to put it on something completely different.

Chris Evans: So I don’t want to think that my storage component is tied to VMware in any way whatsoever, and I want to make sure that whatever metadata is associated with the data that is connected to my application, that I can identify that data in the future. So I think in the short term that might give people some benefit, but I think in the long term, I think that’s a bit of a sticking plaster of an actual problem.

Chris Mellor: I can’t see any reason why, in the long term, the main storage system suppliers shouldn’t be the ones providing cloud native storage, rather than new start-ups. I can’t envisage a cloud native storage start-up growing to the same state as a Nutanix or Pure Storage. I just don’t see it at the moment. Perhaps you see it differently, Martin?

Martin: I don’t know, my Pure Storage, Nutanix, 3PAR, these were all start-ups at one point, and they’re now not exactly household names, but certainly enterprise names we all know and love, or don’t love. So yeah, I’d expect it. But if we go back to flash, we saw lots of start-ups at that time. You would argue, “Do we need so many?” Well, obviously we do now, because most of them have fallen down by the wayside. Going back further to the birth of the shared storage array, there were lots of companies around at that time. Did we need so many? No, lots failed, got bought up, consolidation.

Martin: I think that’s just what we’re seeing again. I think it’s interesting that cloud native storage comes so late. Containers came along, and well, containers are cool, and then various people started to ask the question like, “Hang on, what happens if our data persists?” Because everybody thought container workloads are all about transient workloads. Well, transient workloads are useful, but they’re not that useful, because all your value often is in the data.

Martin: So now, people are trying to work out, “Well, how do I make data persist? How do I make it persist in the standard way? How can I move this data around clusters if I’ve got many thousands of containers spread across thousands of servers? How do I make sure if I spin up a container on that server, it can see the data which is related to that application?” It’s probably a complex problem for them to solve. That’s why we’ve got so many people giving it a go at the moment.

Chris Evans: So think about the early 1980s, certainly in the UK, and this was going to be the comparison I made, Martin, but I think you’ve already done it, but my comparison would be that we have a lot of start-up companies, like Sinclair with the Spectrum and the ZX81, etc., Dragon Computing, Acorn. There was even a company called Apricot, wasn’t there? There was a whole host of companies that were building their own architectures for home computing devices or devices that they thought might turn into something else.

Chris Evans: And then pretty quickly, IBM grabbed that market and we consolidated on to an architecture that stayed fairly consistent since then, although it has had a few component changes. So I think all of that noise and everything that went on in the background allowed us to understand what we wanted, I guess, and the best of things came out into a solution that we ended up adopting. Maybe that’s exactly what we’re doing, as you’ve just said, again.

Martin: Yeah, I think so. I think we often see this in the early days. We’ve seen it, yeah, as you say, not just in storage. If you say, if you look going back into the UK, in the home computer market, and even in the States, we’re probably not as comfortable with the States, we’ve seen many companies come and go. We’ve seen attempts to consolidate, I don’t know if you remember, via the MSX Foundation, when they tried to consolidate a standard across various systems.

Martin: That didn’t work, because everybody wanted to make their stuff look a bit different. IBM, with the PC, ended up … PC clones kind of happened by mistake, but that ended up … That mistake built an industry, and meant that we ended up with consolidation across the piece, and we’ve seen it in databases, we’ve seen it all over the place.

Chris Evans: Okay, so let’s not worry about it then. Let’s just see what happens.

Martin: Yeah, I mean, every now and then you just go through, and at the moment it’s interesting because there are so many cloud native storage companies, companies which you think, “I’ve never heard of them before.” I’ve just found one called Robin. I’ve never heard about them before. Have a quick look at the website, website’s quite flash. They’ve obviously got some investment, perhaps SoftBank can invest in them instead of investing in failed [inaudible 00:06:39] delivery companies.

Chris Evans: Yeah, that is possible. You never know, you never know. Okay, any thoughts, Chris, before we wrap that one up?

Chris Mellor: I figure that the best thing for end users to do at the moment with cloud native storage is to wait and see, unless they have a pressing application that needs sorting out at the moment, because the general thing that’s likely to happen is that the major vendors will buy up technology suppliers that they think are worthwhile, and will start supplying cloud native storage themselves. And I think, possibly, the safest bet an end user could make at the moment, if they’re really into risk avoidance, is just go with VMware. Go with Dell Technologies, it’s bound to have something.

Chris Evans: Okay, fair enough. Let’s move on and talk about object stories then, because this is another area where I find this one really fascinating, in the sense that SwiftStack recently said that they were going to narrow down their focus on a particular area.

Chris Evans: You talked about … You called them Min-I-O, I’m going to call them MinIO, whatever, who are coming in, trying to grab that market. There’s a huge number of object storage vendors, a few of which, two or three that are really at the top of that market, and a lot of others that are trying to get in there too. And it strikes me that object is rife for a bit of rationalization at some point.

Chris Mellor: I think it’s already happened to some expect, Chris. And SwiftStack moving to AI is an acknowledgement by SwiftStack that they’re not going to make it as a general object storage supplier. They have to have a particular market focus and have object storage technology tuned to that particular market so they can make progress in it. I think there are question markets over Scality and Cloudian, and what happens to them. All the main players have got object storage capabilities in house now.

Chris Mellor: It’s possibly HPE, and the market seems to have split: The enterprise people have object storage with file access protocols on top, and they’re doing their thing, and then there’s MinIO, ignored by many, many people, not least IDC and others, and they’ve got hundreds of thousands of systems, their open-source systems, out there in the market being used, and they’re high-performance systems as well. So I think MinIO storage is going to come up from underneath and give everybody else a really hard problem.

Chris Evans: Isn’t that the one that’s being used by VMware in vSphere?

Chris Mellor: Yes, it’s being used as part of VMware’s Project Pacific, if the slide that VMware put out is to be believed.

Chris Evans: Right, yeah, that’s an interesting development. I mean, you’ve got a big finger in the object world, Martin, I guess, but you probably want to stay out of this conversation.

Martin: I do. I will say that, personally, I’ve had a play with Min-I-O, MinIO, or Minnow, however we’re going to pronounce it. I really like it.

Chris Evans: We should just try and find … We need to find as many different ways of pronouncing it as possible. So My-I-

Chris Mellor: My Neo.

Chris Evans: Or something like that. Yeah, My Neo, My Neo. Yeah.

Chris Mellor: My Neos are hurting, actually. I have to go and stretch my legs.

Chris Evans: Yep.

Martin: They look really good, they look really interesting, certainly from a system which our listeners might want to go and play with and actually learn a bit more about S3, how you interact with S3, but they’re getting some traction. I was just looking at their website, they’re claiming 499 contributors to their open-source project.

Martin: That’s not bad for something which is like this. If you look, compare it to some things in the Scality world, I don’t think Scality are anything like that, contributors. I actually haven’t looked at the stats and seen how active their contributors are, and then of course, they point out they’ve got 298.9 million dockables. Yeah, what does that mean?

Chris Evans: Yeah, about three million of them are me because I can’t be bothered to download the actual image and save it.

Martin: That’s what I was going to say, yeah.

Chris Evans: I re-download it the next time I want it, and how many stars have they got? They’ve got like 50 billion GitHub stars.

Martin: They’ve got 19.7 thousand, so yeah, they’re doing pretty well. Yeah.

Chris Evans: Yeah, there you go. Oh well. So let’s keep an eye on the objects storage market then, because it’ll be interesting to see where it develops. Something’s going to happen in the next 12 months. It’s got to change, because SwiftStack have obviously made a move. There’s got to be something else come along, and at the moment, everybody’s focusing on the benefits of companies like Hitachi Vantara, because they’ve got object store with features, and I think that is probably more attractive to the enterprise, when you can build in things like workflow and other sort of things with it.

Chris Mellor: Yes. I think NetApp are doing the same kind of thing with StorageGRID. StorageGRID seems to be getting far more prominence these days than it did a year ago.

Chris Evans: It’s certainly getting some prominence, because it’s somehow managed to jump into one of the vendor’s Magic Quadrant tangles, presentations didn’t it, quite highly from what I remember. So it’s obviously getting prominence somehow. No comment on that one.

Martin: No, I’m not sure. I don’t see it, and for everybody it’s all about what you’re saying, it’s all about having S3 compatibility, because people want the ability to … Whatever code they run, they want to be able to run it on premises if they have an on-premises cloud. But they want the ability to move it into AWS or wherever, wherever they possibly can.

Chris Evans: Unless you’re Microsoft. I don’t think Microsoft want S3 compatibility, do they?

Martin: Yeah, but then again, I thought they may themselves may have done some work with MinIO themselves, because MinIO allows you to give that gateway, so you can stick it in front of your blog. Actually, you can do it with Zenco as well. Obviously, you can stick things in front to get it to pretend to be something, to allow you to move things around. Yeah, Microsoft would obviously love you just to develop against Azure Blobs, but realistically, you’re not going to. [inaudible 00:12:21] really is a lock in, because nobody’s writing gateways for the Azure stuff, I think.

Chris Evans: Yeah, no, I agree. Absolutely, and what else can we think of that’s got such an awful lock in, like Azure Blobs?

Martin: Anything to do with Oracle.

Chris Evans: Yeah, true. Probably some of the GCP functionality, that’s probably got some really interesting lock in that nobody else uses. Probably some bits on there that …

Martin: That’s from with the three big clouds though, we know that. Amazon, and Microsoft, and Google spend their lives producing new functionality, which the other ones don’t have or implement in a slightly different way so that you lock yourself in. Well, I think there’s been a lot of discussion about lock in. You’re going to lock yourself in somewhere. VMware are hoping, VMware especially, but people do talk about being locked into VMware. I’ve come round that that is not such a bad thing. They’ve done a good job with it. If you want it, you want to do something, VMware generally are a good place to do it.

Chris Evans: Yeah, they seem to be okay as a company, VMware. They seem to have been quite successful.

Martin: Yeah, relatively successful.

Chris Evans: Yeah, yeah. Not doing too badly, are they? Made a few quid.

Martin: Yeah.

Chris Evans: Yeah, okay. Right, Chris, going to drag you to the front of this conversation as we move on to talk about vendors: Remember we talked a little while back about the Midrange platforms and what was coming up in terms of Midrange.NEXT. Now, we should’ve been expecting something. Just as a little spoiler alert …

Chris Evans: Well, it’s not really a spoiler alert, the Dell EMC presentations at Storage Field Day, which is coming up in about two weeks’ time, doesn’t have anything officially related to Midrange. So they’re certainly not planning to announce it there as far as I am aware. So what’s happening?

Chris Mellor: I find that astonishing. Jeff Clarke has said again, and again, and again that Midrange.NEXT will be announced before the end of January. If they don’t use Storage Tech Field Day to do this, then they’re not … They’re missing an enormous opportunity.

Chris Evans: All bets off and all that sort of stuff. I’m only going on what I know, and what I know is that, according to the presentation, there isn’t a topic for that. It’s Isilon, Power-One, and something else. I can’t remember what the other thing was, some other thing. Those are the three things I think they’re doing. So it’s not to say they couldn’t slip something in somewhere, but I don’t think it’s been scheduled. So we’ve got three weeks and counting until we hear officially that they’ve missed that date.

Martin: Whatever they’re doing with Isilon, and I know what they’re doing with Isilon, and whatever they’re doing with Power-One, if they’re going to stick something else into that presentation, it’s going to be a bloody long presentation.

Chris Evans: Oh, yeah. I think yeah, we’ve got like half of the day or almost the whole day doing then [crosstalk 00:14:54].

Martin: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:14:54].

Chris Evans: Going to be a long presentation.

Martin: Yeah, okay.

Chris Mellor: Are we seeing the possibility of Midrange.NEXT being delayed, being held back?

Martin: Maybe Unity’s doing fine.

Chris Mellor: I’m surprised. If it was NetApp announcing a massive new hardware/software implementation, or IBM announcing a massive new hardware/software implementation in the Midrange, Eric [inaudible 00:15:15] will be in hyper hysteria mode, teasing people with a million tweets a day about this, and there’ll be countdowns on an IBM website to the announcement date, and what’s happening with Dell EMC? Nothing.

Chris Evans: He’d probably have a shirt with it on, wouldn’t he, as well, or something like that, or a jacket with it all?

Chris Mellor: Oh, heavens above. His shirt would have a countdown on it, it would be electronic, and Dell EMC are doing nothing. There’s a void, it’s remarkable.

Chris Evans: Maybe nobody cares about Midrange, maybe it’s not that important.

Martin: “Midrange is dead.”

Chris Evans: Maybe it is important, then. Maybe it’s fairly important to Dell’s business, but in all seriously, it sounds to me like there could well be a delay, unless … It might well be that they schedule an event, or at the last minute we all get told that there’s something coming up and it gets announced.

Martin: Chris, I know what’s going to happen: It’s going to be about February or April. Remember, because Dell have brought Pivotal back in, [Chad’s 00:16:08] back in the fold. So wait for a-

Chris Evans: Oh, my heavens.

Martin: 50,000-word blog on the new storage platform.

Chris Evans: And Chad’s going to be on a motorbike jumping over the new storage platform, like Evel Knievel.

Chris Mellor: Captain Canada is going to come in from a high wire, it’s going to be Cirque du Soleil.

Chris Evans: I think we’ve just designed their presentation for them. This is now how they need to announce this, because if they don’t do it this way, it’s not going to be good enough. Oh well, so we’ll keep an eye on that one, end of the month, see what happens. Side question here: How long do we think the name EMC is going to stay in there? Could this Midrange be the product that drops the EMC moniker?

Martin: Almost certainly.

Chris Mellor: By the end of the year, probably Dell EMC will start fading away as an organizational brand, is that what you’re saying?

Martin: Yeah.

Chris Evans: I’m asking the question. It just seems to me that that’s going to happen at some stage. I’m just wondering whether, when you start bringing more and more products out, you can start to restructure those products, to the point where you can eventually go, “Do you know what? We’ll just drop that part of the name now because it’s not relevant.” So we’ve seen everything rebranded towards power, haven’t we, which can then just become Dell. So are there many more that need to be done apart from the Midrange product in order to do that? Isilon, maybe.

Martin: It’s all going to be Dell Technologies. So all their signatures are changing, the @emc.com email addresses still work, but it’s generally that all the emails come out is with always Dell addresses. So the EMC name or brand is pretty much dead, and they are trying to mature it.

Chris Mellor: It’s a brand flywheel that’s running down.

Martin: Yeah, definitely.

Chris Evans: Fair enough. Okay, let’s move on and talk about vendor consolidations and shuffles. Martin and I have talked about this a little bit, but we didn’t really get a chance to talk to you about this, Chris, to see what your opinion was. But we saw some vendors being bought up by others, the Tintri brand, DDN getting in there, and really interested to hear what you think is going to go on in that area.

Chris Mellor: I think DDN has done a remarkable job. It’s suddenly become a unicorn [inaudible 00:18:11] company with Tintri, and [Netcenter 00:18:14], and so forth. I don’t know that there are many smaller players left to buy up.

Chris Evans: Well, there’s a lot of cloud native storage companies to buy up.

Chris Mellor: I wouldn’t … Yes, I don’t think consolidation is going to happen there yet because so much development is going on. Possibly, the cloud native consolidation will happen 2021, something like that, when the existing start-ups have polarized into ones that have got mileage in front of them and ones that are going to be struggling in the future. Does that make sense?

Chris Evans: I’m not really sure, to be honest. I’m still thinking whether I understand what you mean. I think, I don’t know, I’m still on the fence as to whether it makes a lot of sense for these companies to consolidate, other than maybe providing them a greater access to customers, and I certainly think that some of them seem to be completely contrasting businesses: Some are enterprise, some are totally not enterprise and more SMB. So even the consolidation of the sales force seems to me to make not a lot of sense. So I’m still not really sure where this is headed.

Chris Mellor: With DDN, do you mean?

Chris Evans: With any of them, with any of them.

Martin: Yeah, it’s hard to see whether consolidation’s going to come at the moment. I think it will consolidate. I think the cloud native stuff is still early. We will see some of the weaker companies get cold and drop off, and there’ll be some normal fire IP sales. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but we might see some people starting a company together because some of them do have customer bases, and we shall see. And then eventually, eventually somebody’s got to [inaudible 00:19:44] buy Scality, so HPE are eventually going to have to buy them.

Chris Mellor: And ditto probably Cloudian, because it’s a darn good company.

Chris Evans: Yeah, HPE are in the game for buying a lot of vendors, aren’t they, at that point? Because they’ve got a lot of companies they use, and I’m not sure whether they really would want to take on all of them, but they’ve got a reasonable commitment to using a lot of technology. And if they get customers using all that stuff and those companies start to get a bit distressed, that to me looks like that’s a bit of a challenge for them.

Martin: Yeah, I’m wondering if it’s an attempt to … HPE have obviously got this big partnership strategy going on. They’ve done this before, and I do wonder if it’s a case for them to actually see, get a better idea of who’s got some kind of traction and who hasn’t.

Chris Evans: Yeah, who’s got the legs to be something more than they are at the moment, with a bit of help.

Chris Mellor: I think the three file system companies that look to be possible consolidation targets for some people, I’m thinking Cumulo, Parnassus, and [Wecker IO 00:20:44]. Wecker IO from the extremely high performance point of view, Cumulo because it’s an Isilon replacement, and for a company that doesn’t have a good anti-Isilon strategy, hey, hello HPE, Cumulo must look a really attractive proposition, I think. And Parnassus, because it’s doing great things with its parallel access software, has a good base in the high-performance computing market, and looks to be something that another big company could perhaps use and grow with.

Chris Evans: I think Wecker’s more possibly cloud acquisition. I think they would fit really well for super high-performance cloud requirements around MLAI. We’re not there yet, I don’t think, in terms of the need for that, but I think that might be their direction. I agree with you on the Cumulo one, though. I think that’s possibly an HPE target.

Martin: Actually, yeah, so I think Wecker would actually make quite an attractive acquisition for Google. I think, looking at them, they’re not dissimilar in some of their attitudes. Your Cumulo to HPE, yep. The one which I don’t see is Parnassus, so that’s the one HPE will go and buy.

Chris Evans: Yeah, probably. Yeah, yeah. Well, there’s no competition when you’re bidding, is there, if nobody else wants them?

Martin: No.

Chris Evans: Nice and easy, you know? It’s not going to be like the old 3PAR bidding or anything like that again. Nobody’s going to be pushing your prices up.

Martin: No.

Chris Evans: Name your price. There you go, job done. Yeah, interesting.

Martin: And who’s Dell going to buy? Dell going to buy anybody? I get the feeling they might go acquisitive, but there’s very few people I … Are they going to buy another technology? Who knows? Dell could go and buy Cumulo just to get the Isilon engineering team back.

Chris Evans: Yeah, could do that. That would save them a bit of time, wouldn’t it? Yeah, no need to go and recruit again.

Martin: Yep, and will somebody eventually pick up Pure?

Chris Evans: Ooh, there’s a good question. I should [inaudible 00:22:33] Cisco, because Cisco hasn’t bought a storage company for a good two years, maybe.

Martin: Well, Oracle haven’t destroyed one for a few years either.

Chris Evans: Yeah, that is true too.

Chris Mellor: Just remind me, where did Charlie Giancarlo come from?

Chris Evans: You’re going to have to remind us, because I can’t remember.

Chris Mellor: Is there a Cisco piece in his background there?

Chris Evans: We’re all quickly, desperately Wikipediaing him, trying to find out where he’s from. See who can get there first. [crosstalk 00:22:57] first.

Martin: I’ll let you do that, Chris.

Chris Evans: Career, blah, blah, blah. Oh, he led Cisco’s acquisition and technology alliance strategies. Wow, he was their first VP of Corporate Development.

Martin: There you go.

Chris Evans: So maybe you’re on to something there, Chris. Maybe you’re on to something, let’s see what happens.

Martin: Well, neither Oracle or Cisco have done a big acquisition like that for some time, I seem to recall. I mean, Cisco have divested themselves of a few companies over the past couple of years, out of their non-core. So maybe it’s about time they started investing again into their core and looking at trying to work out how they become more than just a network company, because that’s what everybody still sees them as.

Chris Evans: Absolutely, they do, and they bought Springpath, which I think bizarrely has been quite successful for them as a [inaudible 00:23:43] company. I don’t mean from a technology perspective, because I think it was good technology. I mean just generally that Cisco seem to have made a success of it, and obviously they bought the complete failure which was based in the East Coast. C’mon Chris, remind me.

Martin: Invicta, which became Invicta.

Chris Evans: Yeah, what was the name of the company, was it-

Martin: I forget.

Chris Mellor: Not Whiptail?

Chris Evans: Whiptail.

Martin: Whiptail, that was it.

Chris Evans: There you go.

Martin: Whiptail technology.

Chris Evans: Yep, which didn’t work out at all.

Martin: Or Whiptail no technology.

Chris Evans: Well, I think mainly because [crosstalk 00:24:13].

Chris Mellor: Yeah, well, Cisco got its ass whipped.

Chris Evans: Yeah, absolutely. So maybe there is some room for things to happen. However, I’m going to move us on to the last topic of this particular podcast episode and 2020, and that’s the whole data management area and data protection, because that has grown massively. We’re seeing multi-billion dollar investments in that part of the industry.

Chris Evans: We’ve seen … Let’s everybody talk about them, Cohesity, Rubrik, [Beam 00:24:38], Activio we’re seeing, Cumulo, [inaudible 00:24:41]. You name it, there’s a whole load of them. Is this market ripe for … Or is it, let’s rephrase that, is this market oversubscribed, is it overcrowded, are there too many players in this market?

Chris Mellor: It’s like asking, I think, “Is the backup market overcrowded?” Yes, it is, obviously, but we can’t get away from it because backup is such a horrendously sticky application that once you’ve committed to one backup supplier, there you are, stuck forever, unable to move away. All the data management companies, the big ones, are beginning to see backup as a prime source of data for them to manage.

Chris Mellor: Activio’s into backup, Cohesity’s into backup, Rubrik’s into backup, [inaudible 00:25:23] into back … Everybody’s into backup as a source for their thing, and I can’t see, me, myself, I, I can’t see the consolidation happening, because how would you, for argument’s sake, combine Veeam and Cohesity technology? They’re completely different software architectures, I just can’t see it happening.

Chris Evans: Okay, so Veeam, do you think they’re making a profit, do you think they’re making money?

Chris Mellor: Oh, I think so. I think they’re making [inaudible 00:25:48] of money.

Chris Evans: Do you think they’re making a profit, though? Do you think Rubrik and Cohesity are? Do you think they’re going to get to a position where, for sake of argument, they might run out of money?

Chris Mellor: Gut feel is Rubrik and Cohesity aren’t making a profit. They’re overspending to build up their businesses. Bit [inaudible 00:26:03] idea, isn’t it?

Chris Evans: Yeah, but didn’t Activio took money just recently, and they’ve been around for like 10 years or so, I think?

Chris Mellor: They did. They’ve re-energized themselves. They’re going for it in a big way.

Chris Evans: In fact, they’ve been around since 2009, so that makes me wonder, I don’t know whether they’re … I don’t think they’re public though, are they? So for them to take money is less of an issue than, say, some other vendors. But neither Cohesity nor Rubrik are public anyway, so are they going to think that IPO’s worth it, or are they going to go down the route of thinking acquisition is worth it? Is HPE going to have to put their hand in their pocket yet again and buy another storage company, this time in backup?

Chris Evans: I’m just interested to see how this market plays, because it just seems to be that some of the companies seem to be … Not … I hate to use the term “stagnation”, because that’s not true, because I’m sure their businesses are growing brilliantly. But it just does seem that there’s got to be, at some point, there’s got to be something happening. Because I can’t believe that people like Dell and HP are going to continue to try and go along the way they are without having access to this market in some form.

Chris Mellor: I strongly, strongly agree with that sentiment. I think there’s a difficulty, in that “data management” is too vague a term, it covers too many bases. There’s copy data management, there’s data protection, there’s archive, there’s file analytics, there’s various activities within data management, but there doesn’t seem to be a simple definition of the main strands of data management that you can then tie particular companies to.

Chris Mellor: So the offers of Rubrik, and Cohesity, and Activio, and Delphix overlap to quite a large degree. And so it would be difficult for somebody to try and consolidate those companies. Am I making sense here? I’m struggling to express what I’m trying to say here, but I’m confused about the data management market, and I’m not sure that other people aren’t just as confused as I am.

Martin: See, I think it’s interesting, you listed all these companies but you’ve left one out.

Chris Mellor: Go on.

Martin: Commvault.

Chris Mellor: Indeed, indeed.

Martin: And Commvault’s been around for quite some time, and it’s a company which a lot of people have talked about. See, Commvault was formed …

Chris Evans: 20 years ago.

Martin: Blimey.

Chris Evans: ’99, maybe.

Martin: 1988.

Chris Evans: Oh right, wow.

Martin: It was formed, it’s a development group in Bell Labs, and then it was sold off in 1996. So yeah, so it’s been around for an awful long time, and I remember they bought Hedvig last year. So what are they doing?

Chris Mellor: They’re using all the data they protect and they’re going to feed that into data management as well.

Martin: Yeah.

Chris Evans: The difference, I’d say, there is that perhaps Commvault as a public company, already trading, potentially I’m sure … I don’t know how much money they make in terms of profit, but potentially they’re profitable, so their issue is more growth, and moving it in your markets, and keeping the business going than it is turning a profit. Whereas, some of the other vendors maybe haven’t got to the profitable stage yet.

Chris Evans: So does that matter, to be fair? Pure isn’t technically profitable, depending on which measurement you look at, so maybe that doesn’t really matter. If you’re very close to that point, maybe you don’t care. But I just wonder whether we’re going to see something happen in the next 12 months, whether it’s acquisition or whether it’s one of the companies getting a bit distressed, I don’t know.

Chris Mellor: Commvault’s just gone through almost a complete wholesale replacement of its senior sales management. They brought in Riccardo Di Blasio as Chief Revenue Officer in May last year, and he’s replace America’s sales, EMEA sales head, Asia Pacific, Japan sales head, there’s a Hedvig sales head, and there’s a Channel sales head also being replace.

Chris Mellor: And I think I have a feeling that Commvault’s CEO, Sanjay Mirchandani, has basically said, “Enough is enough. I’m going to fix this long running sales execution problem Commvault has had for years, and years, and years, and here are these new people I’ve put in place, and they’re going to darn well fix the sales execution problem, or they can take a hike.”

Chris Evans: So that’s got to be one to watch then, hasn’t it, and see how the others play out equivalent to that.

Chris Mellor: I’d like to offer a thought about Veeam: It’s been closely managed by the founders, but a new CTO has been appointed, which indicates that one of the founders is stepping back a little bit. And I just wonder whether there’s something perhaps going to change in Veeam’s status during the year, something significant. I don’t know what it might be, but I just have a little hair curling effect at the back of my neck that something is happening with Veeam, and I’m not sure what it is.

Chris Evans: Something in your water, or whatever the expression is.

Chris Mellor: That’s it, something in my water.

Chris Evans: Yeah, okay. Any last thoughts, Martin?

Martin: No, it’s an interesting one, because Veeam change is very, very recent, so Danny Allan joining. So yeah, we might see some changes. I think it’s going to be interesting, I do think it’s interesting. We’ll see more cloud native storage. We’re going to see market consolidation at some point. There’s a lot still to play for in this market.

Chris Evans: Yeah, definitely. I think, if anything we can come out and say is that there’s always something else happening, and I don’t think we’re going to be short of conversation for the next 12 months.

Martin: No.

Chris Evans: Perfect, okay. Well guys, thanks very much. Appreciate you both joining, and being able to have a bit of a laugh, and talk through some of the things we think are going to come up. If anybody’s listening and they think they’ve got their opinions, of course we’d be very happy to hear it. But until then, catch up with you next time.

Chris Mellor: Bye, pleasure talking to both of you.

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