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CommVault plans to go further with deduplication, cloud features

CommVault added block-level data deduplication to its Simpana data protection and management suite at the start of 2009, and introduced cloud connectivity this week. Now CEO Bob Hammer says there will be even more dedupe and cloud when Simpana 9 launches later this year.

Hammer says dedupe has been a major source of revenue for CommVault with 900 customers licensing the feature in 2009, including around 300 in the fourth quarter as CommVault increased total revenue 18% year over year to $71 million. So what’s next for Simpana’s dedupe?

“We will take deduplication up a level so it can enable us to manage data in and out of clouds and remote locations in a much more comprehensive way than we do today,” Hammer said of CommVault’s plans for Simpana 9. “Our objectives are to improve scale, the algorithms and the way we do source site deduplication. It’s a pretty significant enhancement to the product line.”

Hammer says CommVault is unlikely to seek more OEM partners beyond Dell for its deduplication, and will instead concentrate on picking up more channel distribution partners for Simpana. That’s a different strategy than other dedupe vendors such as Quantum and FalconStor, who are trying to capitalize on dedupe demand by offering the software to storage vendors to compete with EMC’s Data Domain and Avamar dedupe products.

Hammer says CommVault clearly has the attention of backup software market leaders EMC and Symantec, which recently beefed up deduplication across its NetBackup and Backup Exec platforms. Hammer says CommVault has run into aggressive pricing tactics from those rivals. In other words, EMC and Symantec have been discounting their dedupe software, according to CommVault.

“EMC’s strategy is what I would call the more rational and better managed strategy,” Hammer said. “They’re trying to stop us in that space, and they’re aggressive about it. Symantec pricing is a lot more disorganized, I’d call it panicky. The discounts are deeper and vary between regions.”

Whatever EMC’s strategy, it seemed to work. EMC last month reported 600 new Data Domain customers last quarter and more than 50% revenue growth for Data Domain and Avamar.

Hammer says the cloud and information management would also be areas of improvement in Simpana 9. He estimates about 40 percent to 50 percent of CommVault customers have expressed in interest in using the cloud for backup and long-term archiving. He says Simpana 9 will have more cloud connectivity features that go beyond the Service Pack released for Simpana 8 this week that lets customers hook into services from Amazon, Microsoft, Nirvanix, EMC and Iron Mountain.

“We’ll have a number of significant cloud enhancements,” Hammer said. “We’ve been working this for years. People are going to want cloud configurations, whether private or public. Enterprise customers will build large internal cloud structures that different divisions will access. We have a platform to enable that as a seamless tier. Likewise, we can help a customer who wants to access public clouds.”

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