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Cohesity exec: Hyper-converged secondary storage more than a trend

A Cohesity executive wants to make something clear about the company’s self-described product line.

“Hyper-converged secondary storage is not a trend,” chief marketing officer Lynn Lucas said. “It’s a category.”

The numbers in the most recent Cohesity revenue report shine a light on that statement. The vendor reported a 600% year-over-year increase in 2017 sales revenue. Over the past eight months, Cohesity’s new customer count doubled. The company does not report exact revenue or customer figures, though Patrick Rogers, its vice president of marketing and product management, said Cohesity storage has hundreds of customers.

Cohesity is entering its third year of selling products and aims to be the platform for converging all non-primary storage. Its customers include a dozen Fortune 500 companies. New customers include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Air Force and the University of California at Santa Barbara. In addition, international business produced more than 30% of bookings in 2017.

Hyper-convergence initially focused on primary storage. When Cohesity and fellow startup Rubrik emerged, analysts called their products converged secondary storage because they planned to handle all non-primary workloads. But with hyper-converged primary and converged secondary storage both growing healthily, the newcomers call their systems hyper-converged secondary storage.

“[Hyper-converged secondary storage] is a category and the enterprise is continuing to adopt it,” Lucas said.

Cohesity claims customers in financial services, media and entertainment, health care and high tech are using its storage for at least 1 PB, Rogers said. One customer has 4 PB in Cohesity storage. One petabyte equals 50 nodes.

The vendor also claims most of its customers use its cloud services. Cohesity has partnerships with Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Cohesity recently launched its DataPlatform Cloud Edition, which now runs on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. DataPlatform serves as the underlying file system that manages storage across the Cohesity nodes, handling features such as data deduplication, compression, encryption and tiering.

Cohesity’s early competition came from Rubrik, which bills itself as “The Cloud Data Management Company” and raised $180 million in a 2017 round for a total of $292 million in funding. But larger companies are also getting into the game, including backup vendor Commvault with its HyperScale platform that Cisco also sells as ScaleProtect on the Cisco Unified Computing System.

Cohesity getting hyped for growth

In April 2017, Cohesity raised more than $90 million in a funding round that included investments from Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Cisco. Cohesity has raised more than $160 million in three funding rounds.

Cohesity doubled its workforce over the last year. It now has more than 300 employees, including 100 hired in the last few months, and plans to hire more. Its new San Jose, Calif. headquarters was built with room for growth, Lucas said.

One of the new hires is Lucas, who started recently as Cohesity’s first CMO after previous stints with Veritas Technologies and Cisco. Cohesity says she was hired to strengthen the leadership team, increase customers and accelerate company growth.

Cohesity also recently hired former NetApp president Rob Salmon as its first president and COO.

Strategy for the year ahead includes tackling all forms of secondary storage beyond data protection uses — such as test and development and analytics — and increasing adoption of cloud infrastructure, Rogers said.

Challenges include spreading the word about hyper-converged secondary storage. In addition, customers have more data but want to spend less.

“Hyper-converged secondary storage is a part of the enterprise data center that hasn’t been consolidated,” Rogers said, which presents an opportunity for Cohesity.

Acquisitions are not on the table, Rogers said.

“The horsepower here from an engineering talent perspective is really unbelievable,” Lucas said, citing founder and CEO Mohit Aron, founder of hyper-converged pioneer Nutanix, as an example. One of Aron’s goals is to converge data protection in a similar manner to the way Nutanix converges primary data.

Cohesity also has some important strategic partners, including Cisco and HPE, Rogers said. HPE, for example, is reselling pre-configured, scale-out Cohesity storage combined with HPE’s enterprise-class servers and network switches.

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