This morning we published a Q&A with EMC backup and recovery division president and former Data Domain CEO Frank Slootman on our SearchDataBackup.com site. However, not all of our conversation with Slootman made it into the final piece. Following are a few of the more interesting tidbits from the cutting room floor, including shifting competitive dynamics following the EMC/Data Domain acquisition, whether Dell will sell EMC’s backup product portfolio, and general trends in data deduplication.
EMC said that Data Domain gained 600 new customers on its fourth-quarter earnings call. Is there anything different about those customers from Data Domain’s existing customer base?
Slootman: I think it’s more concentrated on the global enterprise account side as you can imagine with EMC’s global channel and account presence, that part of the business grew disproportionately fast. That’s one. The other is our international business grew much faster than it historically has. A third thing, which kind of surprised me, is that of these 600 customers who were new to Data Domain, 300 were also new to EMC, which is very significant, because how many companies have not bought products from EMC in their lifetime?
Storage tends to be a trench war – everybody has their accounts and it’s an inch to the left, an inch to the right but it’s relatively static. But this market is not like that – it’s wide open and there’s a tremendous opportunity to just sort of move the boundaries.
Who would you say is EMC’s biggest competition in backup right now?
Slootman:It’s IBM by a considerable margin. Our competitive dynamic obviously changed because of being in the EMC orbit. Number one, we don’t have EMC to kick around anymore. [laughs] Which changed a lot, of course … but secondly, it puts us much more in the enterprise game than we already were. We look at our CRM statistics in that type of engagement, and IBM is very prominent, number one, and then there’s a few others coming after that – NetApp, Symantec, that sort of thing.
What are you seeing from NetApp?
Slootman:They’re getting rid of the VTL. I think that’s a wise move because they pretty much telegraphed to the world that they didn’t think much of their own product, so it’s kind of hard to keep selling it at that point. NetApp is retrenching to their core platform, which I think is a logical way of doing things. They were really fragmenting their platform before by having a separate VTL. So now they’re saying we’re going to sell our core platform and it has data protection built into it, and so that’s what we’re going to represent to the world. Makes sense to me.
It seems pretty obvious Dell might be inclined to expand its relationship with EMC to cover the backup products. There are also some rumors that Dell has already started selling Data Domain. Is that something that you could clarify?
Slootman:They’re already able to sell it through a brokerage relationship ,and they did in the last several quarters. That is not terribly unique and surprising because just about any vendor is capable of taking business down through a brokerage arrangement. So I wouldn’t necessarily take that as a huge revelation – that’s fairly common, sometimes people just have procurement relationships when they need to drive a contract this way or that way. .. The other relationships are still awaiting announcement. There’s a lot of anticipation around it, but I think that will get cleared up pretty soon.
It seems like deduplication has filtered its way into backup software in the last year. Do you see dedupe moving up the stack, or is there a home for it at different levels?
Slootman:It’s kind of interesting, because the two original products that pioneered data deduplication are Avamar and Data Domain. One is storage, the other is software. So from the very beginning this has been true. The other thing I’ll tell you in terms of relative share – at the time Avamar was acquired by EMC three years ago now, Data Domain was sort of 3:1 relative to Avamar, and it still is to this day. That tells me that the relative proportion in terms of how customers deploy the technology hasn’t really changed. I think that an overwhelming amount of dedupe is still deployed as storage, not as software and that’s a sore topic for CommVault and Symantec, which I can understand, but there’s reasons for it. Compelling technology reasons, not just because we’re good salespeople here.