CommVault, McAfee partner to integrate storage and security management solution

Storage software vendor CommVault and security specialist McAfee forge a strategic partnership to integrate storage management and security management. Could a merger follow similar to the Symantec-Veritas deal?

CommVault Systems Inc. and McAfee Inc. will integrate their product lines and cross-train their sales forces in an attempt to take the offensive against their common rival Symantec Corp. by offering solutions that integrate storage and security management.

Mike McMahon, senior director of worldwide OEM and alliances at CommVault, said that McAfee CEO Dave DeWalt first approached CommVault CEO Bob Hammer about a potential partnership this summer. The two have agreed to begin integrating their product lines with availability expected early next year.

The first move will be to integrate CommVault's storage resource management (SRM) reporting tool and McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) central management console. The console currently does not include data protection or archival compliance, but the combination will allow it to monitor whether servers have data protected, whether archiving and compliance policies are being followed and whether backup jobs have been completed. The two companies will establish communication hooks between the two products, with CommVault's SRM data "rolling up" into ePO.

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Data leakage will be job No. 2, McMahon said. For example, McAfee's console could receive data from CommVault's backup server, notifying it that a backup job is running outside the normal backup window, which could signal the attempted theft of data.

Finally, the two companies plan to "improve the way we jointly deploy software agents," McMahon said. The companies will go to market jointly with these products and expect a cross-training of sales forces. "CommVault sales are already starting to better understand McAfee," McMahon said. "They won't know every detail, but they'll understand where the combination makes sense and vice versa for McAfee."

McMahon stopped short of saying the two companies had lost deals to Symantec because of its portfolio of security products and storage software it acquired with Veritas in 2006, but did identify Symantec as the chief target of the new partnership. "We see our primary competitor as Symantec and at least can have integration between storage and security in place if partners and customers are asking about it," McMahon said. "Before, our answer would be that we're focused more on the data protection and management side of things."

The companies are already looking at the next logical step, which, according to McMahon, would be for the ePO management console to take action on the network based on the cues it receives from CommVault SRM. "Right now, you have to pick up the phone and call the storage guy," he said.

One user who has both CommVault and McAfee installed said he liked the idea of consolidated tools. "To be honest, [unifying security and storage management] is not something I had considered," said Dan Wons, vice president of network and infrastructure for public relations research company Cision. "But consolidating tools into a single view is always attractive to me. That's one less interface you might have to teach someone."

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse pointed out that security and storage have historically been tied together in the wider market, not just by Symantec/Veritas, but by EMC RSA and CA, which acquired Cheyenne Software in 1996. Whitehouse, who worked for Cheyenne, said the company's most popular product was the protection suite that combined backup and antivirus features. "For every new server and workload you deploy, you always need backup and antivirus -- it's not necessarily the same buyer [within an organization], but the concern about data protection is something that's contemplated across the board," she said.

Could a merger follow?

A close integration like this leads to speculation of a merger. With a market cap of $4.54 billion, according to Yahoo Finance, McAfee is big enough to afford to buy CommVault, with a market cap estimated at $408.3 million. This partnership looks like the kind of screening many companies use: dipping a toe in the water and gauging the value of working together before a possible merger.

"This is typically how [mergers] happen," Whitehouse said. There's synergy between the company's products, a trend toward security and storage mergers in the market, and a similar two-tiered direct/channel go to market strategy for the two companies. McAfee CEO DeWalt is a former EMC veteran who, Whitehouse noted, is "well-versed in acquisition and integrations."

The first integration is a test of whether the companies are "oil and water working together … we see opportunities to better integrate at the product level than our competitor, who has just tied a yellow wrapper around many of its products," McMahon said.

But he declined to comment a possible acquisition down the road. "We are not looking to blur the lines between security and storage," he said. "They're still very different buyers within an organization."

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