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CommVault exec says Dell-Quest 'no big deal'

Dave West said his phone has been ringing constantly since Monday morning when Dell revealed it reached a deal to acquire Quest Software.

West is CommVault’s SVP of marketing and business development, and people want to know how the Dell-Quest deal will affect his company.

“I’ve been fielding a lot of questions over the last 24 hours,” West said this morning. “’What the hell does this mean to CommVault?’ because Dell is a significant distribution partner.’

“Well, it’s not as big a deal as some people think.”

The first reaction from a lot of people who follow the backup space to Dell-Quest was: what does this mean for Dell’s current backup partners Symantec and CommVault? Dell sells both of those vendors’ backup software bundled on its hardware. Now Dell has its NetVault physical and vRanger virtual backup applications from Quest to go with the AppAssure replication it acquired in February. And Dell executives make it clear they want to rely less on partners and more on their own products over the long term.

CommVault has more at stake than Symantec from Dell’s push into backup. Symantec has much larger overall market share than CommVault, and has already moved into coopetition with Dell by marketing its own bundled appliances. CommVault still relies on hardware partner to sell its Simpana software, and Dell is its largest partner with more than 20% of CommVault sales going through Dell in most quarters.

West said despite the speculation, there is plenty of life left in the Dell-CommVault relationship. He said Quest’s software – including NetVault backup – is mostly aimed at Windows and at a lower end of the market than CommVault. CommVault is counting on Simpana’s heterogeneous support with storage and backups systems to make it more valuable to Dell in the enterprise than NetVault.

CommVault has also has years of integration work with Dell storage systems and servers.

“We don’t compete in the same space as NetVault or AppAssure,” West said. “Our business is predominantly enterprise. The Quest set of tools just isn’t in that space. The enterprise is heterogeneous everywhere – you have to be able to sit on top of all the different devices. That’s not something they’re going to get from Quest.”

West said CommVault’s partnership with Dell is “consultative,” meaning CommVault sales people are involved at every stage of sales and implementation with Dell customers.

Meanwhile, CommVault is working with as many hardware partners as possible. It has reseller or OEM deals with Hitachi Data Systems, NetApp and Fujitsu, and is even tightly integrated with some EMC storage systems.

“Dell is just one arrow in our quiver,” West said.

That’s a smart strategy for CommVault. While Dell didn’t buy Quest mainly for its backup portfolio, it has that IP now. Considering Dell’s long-term strategy of building its own products, it’s probably a matter of time before it won’t need backup partners. The big question is, how long will it take?

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