Commvault Says Game On With New Hyperscale Appliance

Commvault has partnered with RedHat to build a scale-out hyper-converged appliance running Commvault’s software, sold as a subscription. Called HyperScale, it’s a clear validation of the Rubrik and Cohesity approach to backups and secondary data.
Both Rubrik and Cohesity have enjoyed strong growth with their approach to secondary data management, and Rubrik is boasting of valuations of greater than a billion dollars. That kind of market action demands attention.

The thing is, Commvault does have a good story to tell here, one that can work for its existing customers and to help it steal share from its major competitors like Dell EMC and HPE. It’s not a mere copy, but rather Commvault’s way of providing what customers clearly like about the Rubrik/Cohesity offering.

“Scale-up architectures are outdated,” said Commvault’s Senior Director of Worldwide Solutions, Don Foster. “Customers need something that can handle the size and scale of secondary data in the modern enterprise, with all the data services Commvault can provide.”

Don Foster, Sr. Director of Worldwide Solutions, Commvault
Don Foster, Sr. Director of Worldwide Solutions, Commvault

Commvault uses RedHat’s Gluster file-system to do the scale-out storage, and uses a 4+2 erasure coding approach for data resilience. Commvault is also selling the product on a pure subscription basis, priced based on usable target storage. If you purchase the Commvault appliance hardware, you get it refreshed for free every three years, but Commvault are also providing reference architectures for hardware vendors commonly found in the enterprise: Dell EMC, HPE, Lenovo, Super Micro Computer, Cisco, Fujitsu and Huawei.

This is smart, given Commvault’s enterprise customer base. They often have whole-of-enterprise agreements with vendors for server and storage hardware, and this lets them use their existing relationships to acquire hardware they know and like (and have the tools and processes established to manage). This is a low-change option, which makes adoption easier. Just layer the Commvault software on top.

Commvault also supports end systems that startups choose not to, like Unix. Maybe the new folks will decide the effort is worth it, maybe they won’t, but for an enterprise with substantial investments to protect, it’s easier to choose an extension to a known and trusted brand than to deal with sprawling point solutions. Heterogeneity and brownfields is the norm, and dealing with that complexity is one reason these deals are so large.

There’s also the not insubstantial investment in tools and processes that already exist. If you can get at least some of the benefits of the new approach without a wholesale re-tooling of your entire organisation, that’s an attractive and lower risk option. The added value doesn’t need to be as high as for a completely new approach. Change is not risk free, and how many companies do you know that handle large-scale organisational change well?

You can argue that this is a reaction by Commvault, but really, it is doing just what large enterprises should do. They don’t have to invent all the new things themselves, because that leads to Not Invented Here syndrome. Equally, they can’t ignore all new developments in the marketplace, because that leads to stagnation and death. If it’s what their customers want, then they need to be providing it. There’s no shame in being a fast follower, and there are plenty of examples of it being an extremely profitable approach.