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CommVault fires back at EMC's Slootman

Former Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman, now president of EMC’s data backup and recovery division, sat down for a Q&A with that’s been getting some attention from the industry, particularly other deduplication competitors.

Among those competitors, one with a contentious relationship with EMC/Data Domain is former partner CommVault, with whom Data Domain had a messy breakup after CommVault introduced its own deduplication with Simpana 8.

Here’s what Slootman had to say about them:

SearchDataBackup: Will you continue to work closely with Symantec Corp.’s OpenStorage (OST) API now that you’re EMC?

Slootman: Yes. I’m not throwing my partners under the bus. We’ll compete, but we’re all competitors and partners these days. We won’t screw them. We’ll screw other companies, like CommVault. We {Data Domain] treated them as a good partner and they came after us.

In an email to Storage Soup this week, CommVault vice president of marketing and business development Dave West had this response:

As I said back in June, I applaud Frank and Data Domain’s ability to create momentum for deduplication and a tremendous return for its shareholders. In the Dave Raffo piece, Frank calls out CommVault simply because we’re giving them a run for their money. Simpana, with built-in dedupe, works really well, and we are winning business. Now, I find it ludicrous to suggest a product vision that forces a customer to deploy 3 or more disparate products to achieve basic data protection. (Pile on more products for replication, encryption, archive and SRM).  At the end of the day, customers want less complexity, improved operational efficiency and ultimately, to spend less money. That means fewer, not more solutions. Less hardware and smarter software. EMC’s product portfolio is both complicated and costly for customers, so buyer beware. Also, in our opinion, this interview should raise some serious flags among the thousands of already nervous NetWorker customers out there looking for reassurance in the wake of the Data Domain acquisition.

I asked West to elaborate on the “red flags” about NetWorker, and he pointed to this statement by Slootman in another part of the interview:

SearchDataBackup: If Avamar is the future of data backup software, where does that leave NetWorker?

Slootman: Well, Avamar is augmenting NetWorker in a lot of places. People are moving a good part of their workload to Avamar, but not all. They’re still running applications like big, fat databases on traditional backup software. NetWorker can support conventional backup on tape and mixed media and people can integrate it with Data Domain.

“Former EMC customers are telling us that there is no real investment or innovation going into the Networker product and they’re tired of it,” West added.

This dedupe feud will get really interesting if CommVault partner Dell Inc. starts selling Data Domain, which is a likely scenario because Dell sells much of EMC’s storage products. CommVault’s Simpana is currently a big piece of Dell’s deduplication strategy.

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