Ian Moyse, Board Member, Cloud Industry Forum &Member TechUK Cloud Leadership Committee
2020 is already a year of enhanced change and challenge, brought to us all by an unexpected requirement for on-masse remote working. With this came a breadth of increased challenges for business, spanning people, process, and technology. The need for already challenged areas of security and data efficacy took on a new meaning when 100% of workers were outside the perimeter of the corporate network and on remote machines, many not prior equipped or experienced at this work ethos, a challenge in light of a continuing increase in security threats. In March 2020 alone we saw a 6x spike in cyber security attacks combined with data privacy mandates such as GDPR.
AND we have seen the growth of cloud computing underpinning a breadth of these technology innovations from AI through Big Data. The drive for digital transformation has exploded, utilising variations of SaaS (Software as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). It is now expected that the adoption we have all been experiencing in recent years will accelerate, with 57% planning to increase cloud usage due to COVID-19 (“State of the Cloud Report,” 2020, Flexera)
Combining these factors delivers the perfect storm of massively increased data volumes, more sophisticated and greater attacks on our data alongside stricter data laws and fines, and a breadth of cloud adoption never seen before. This storm is affecting businesses regardless of size, vertical or geographic location. From my 14 years of experience in the cloud sector for customers adopting cloud from the average small business to the corporate the commonest discussion of concern and focus in the selection process centres around security and protection of data. With a different working world now of increased mobile users we have an enhanced challenge for both vectors.
Aligning with this perfect storm and a growing cloud diversity in the customer world, an announcement came that can be argued as perfect timing for the business client and will be a Eureka moment for many IT leaders. Commvault has a strong pedigree in the data backup arena and started changing the landscape with Metallic’s launch in 2019 where they set out to build the best end to end SaaS experience in the industry. Already, only 9 months on they have secured a global landslide with their Microsoft multi-year strategic partnership that sees Microsoft firmly labelling Metallic as the SaaS backup of choice for the Microsoft cloud family, to both their customers and partner network.
Is there room for an innovation at scale in this space? According to Gartner backup applications are rife for disruption, reporting that “By 2022, 40% of organizations will replace their backup applications from what they deployed at the beginning of 2018.” The day has gone where a backup device is strung from a server to backup centrally stored data periodically, providing a restore point in respect of server hardware failure or data corruption. We live in a complex world where data is diverse in both type and location, where criticality of data efficacy is at its utmost and where security protection or failure thereof has greater business implication than ever before. We have a landscape where customers have a breadth of cloud offerings in use and for the Microsoft client this will encompass mixes of Office 365, Azure, Teams, Dynamics, SharePoint and OneDrive. Today’s customer wants to protect not only core SaaS held data, but also their cloud and on premise workloads including a mix of file servers, VM, SQL, Database’s, endpoints and more. Data is data, it is important, needs to be secure and most critically resilient.
With this comes a demand for consumption of backup in a different way. A demand for greater power, security and flexibility aligned to a pure cloud model that enables a business to span its cloud estate, to simplify the management of data and to align to data regulations and sovereignty needs across the globe. Customers want the choice of storage models from cloud, on premise and mixed to allow freedom of choice on storage. This alongside a comprehensive ability to enhance and protect the business and reduce risk around the explosion of endpoints attached to the corporate network, creating and storing dispersed pockets of data.
Metallic has moved fast to make its mark. Launched already in the USA, it will move quickly to AsiaPac, to then be followed by EMEA. The alignment with Microsoft has a compelling value to a large market segment and with a BYOS (Bring Your Own Storage) options both supporting cloud and on network, this will prove attractive to many looking to simplify, consolidate and refresh their data storage and protection landscape. This has the promise of a comprehensive and simplified world for the CIO, CSO and DPO.
For Microsoft customers the offering is attractive technically from its breadth, performance, scaling ease of use and focus on delivering greater business value and customer experience than other legacy backup offerings. With promise of joint API development and hybrid -cloud support there remains more value differentiation to follow the initial exciting announcement.
When you add to this the strength of endorsement from Microsoft following 20 strong years of partnership with Commvault this has the potential to disrupt the status quo of the data protection & storage market and change the direction of many IT decisions in the year ahead. I was surprised to discover just how strong this foundation with Microsoft already is, on Microsoft’s own pages at www.microsoft.com/commvault endorsing the Commvault relationship with “All partnerships should last this long—and be so good” followed by a firm statement on the new partnership of “Metallic Backup & Recovery and Microsoft Azure deliver data protection you can trust.’ This is as native an offering as you could expect without it carrying the Microsoft own brand name. At launch it is a featured app on the Azure Marketplace, can be utilised as part of a customer’s Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, is fully supported through the joint vendor channel model and with its low per-user retail entry point of $4 per user per month. Any price barrier has firmly been removed.
The announcement promises not only joint engineering, but a combined go to market and sales focus; I feel other backup providers will have questions to answer from their channels today, as they receive direct messaging from Microsoft of a new inner member of the family. I expect that many backup providers operating particularly in the Microsoft space will themselves feel like backing up today, as this news hits their inboxes.
The challenge Commvault may face is how to resource the floodgates of channel and end user enquiries as news spreads via the joint channels. Will Microsoft resellers wrap their arms around this taking the strong Microsoft backing and switch allegiance from existing legacy brand partners, more excited by a rich new offering to take to their clients. Riding on the wave of the Azure and Microsoft cloud success story, with Metallic Commvault is breathing innovation with an aggressive commercial proposition into a market segment and channel model grasping for positive opportunity post COVID.