Last month, Commvault Systems announced a significant expansion of the Metallic platform, with support for 23 countries. During a briefing on the news, I commented that the future direction of Commvault itself was implicitly linked with the success of Metallic. Commvault is turning into a SaaS company. The statement was met with a few nervous laughs. Imagine my surprise when I heard the news that the new CMO, Isabelle Guis, was previously at Salesforce.
There’s no doubt that Commvault is in a state of transition. Since the appointment of Sanjay Mirchandani as CEO, the company has acquired Hedvig and released Metallic as a separate internal “venture”. Mirchandani has placed a big bet on the future of data protection moving to SaaS, as IT organisations diverge their once on-premises infrastructure into a mix of public cloud SaaS and IaaS, and private cloud. We’ll talk more about Hedvig in a moment.
When Commvault launched Metallic at Commvault Go in October 2019, it was clear that the SaaS model was a big deal. A lot of work has gone into creating a platform that, in fairness, doesn’t reflect Commvault much at all. Metallic has a unique look and feel at the front-end but behind the scenes leverages the decades of data protection development from the core Commvault solutions.
Successfully creating a global SaaS platform that handles customer data has its challenges. Customers need to be able to purchase in local currency, access and restore their data locally in a timely fashion and have local language support. Simultaneously, Metallic has to respond to local data governance laws (like GDPR in the EU), manage the solution’s scalability in local clouds and build out local support staff.
Of course, Commvault is already a global company, so none of this is new ground. However, these boxes do need ticking and the legal requirements put in place.
When you’re developing a new SaaS offering, getting market traction is all about momentum and features. The following list highlights Metallic announcements since launch.
- Commvault Launches Metallic™, a New SaaS Backup and Recovery Brand with an Enterprise-Class Foundation (press release)
- Commvault Provides Free Laptop Data Protection with Unlimited Azure Storage through September 1st (blog)
- Commvault and Zones Partner to Deliver Metallic Office 365 Backup & Recovery (press release)
- Metallic SaaS Data Protection Software Now Available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace (blog)
- Commvault Enters Into A Strategic Agreement With Microsoft To Deliver SaaS And Cloud Technology For Data Management (press release)
- Metallic SaaS Data Protection, an Offering from Commvault, Named 2020 SaaS Awards Finalist (press release)
- Commvault’s Metallic SaaS Data Protection Now Available in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace (press release)
- Commvault Makes Metallic Cloud-Native, SaaS-Based Data Protection Available in Australia and New Zealand (blog)
- Metallic™ Launches New eDiscovery and GDPR Compliance Features, Adds Support for More Microsoft Workloads (press release)
- Commvault announces Metallic Cloud Storage Service (press release)
- Metallic SaaS Wins Best of VMworld 2020 Award in Resilience and Recovery Category (press release)
- Metallic Takes the Gold for Cloud Storage & Backup Solution in the 2020 Stevie International Business Awards (blog)
- Metallic SaaS Turns One and (Out)Shines Brighter Than Ever (blog)
- Commvault Launches Metallic SaaS-based Data Protection Solutions in EMEA (press release)
- Metallic Brings Free Kubernetes Protection, New Offerings to Hybrid Cloud BaaS Portfolio (blog)
- Commvault unveils latest enhancements for containers, launches Metallic BaaS for Kubernetes (press release)
- New Microsoft Teams Capabilities and What’s in it for You (blog)
Thanks to Jason Knadler for helping compile this list.
SaaS and Data Protection
Why put so much focus on data protection as a SaaS offering? We need to think about how the IT world has changed since the introduction of modern public cloud in the early 2000s. Adopting public cloud services (either as SaaS or IaaS) has fragmented the once centralised data centre into islands of applications and associated data. Start-ups can exist today without ever building on-premises infrastructure, and the coronavirus pandemic has seen an acceleration of public cloud adoption.
The long-term reality is that neither the public cloud nor on-premises will be the overall winner in the future of the data centre. Instead, IT organisations will consume services in a way that best suits their business. This strategy might mean going “all in” on a single cloud provider like AWS, but as companies grow and mature, it more likely means a mix of interconnected services.
Today the cross-connectivity between cloud SaaS, IaaS and on-premises is weak. The island mentality pervades because there are few common standards to enable applications and their data to interact easily between platforms. Application deployment frameworks are helping to evolve this, but there’s a long way to go.
Data at the Centre
At the heart of any business is data. Three decades ago, data lived in the walled garden of the private data centre. Today, data is widely distributed across a mix of edge, core and cloud. What is the best route forward to protect this content? Data protection in the form of backup/restore is an essential internal IT service offered to business users within an enterprise, so it needs to be done right.
In the days of the walled garden data centre, the data protection service was implemented with internal servers and data repositories (tape and eventually disk). Today, the public cloud offers a much better solution for data protection because it removes the scalability and accessibility issues inherent in building on-premises backup infrastructure.
- For businesses that never deploy on-premises infrastructure, building on-premises backup makes no sense. There is enough diversity in the public cloud to protect against any one provider’s failure, either regionally or globally.
- For businesses with existing on-premises infrastructure that are moving some or all of their workloads to the public cloud, a cloud-based backup solution enables this transition to work efficiently. Proper data protection needs to be in place before production migrations occur.
- For businesses that want to retain both on-premises and public cloud, cloud-based protection with some degree of on-premises recovery capability offers the ability to meet SLAs and optimise the protection process. With a single point of management, if applications move back and forth between locations, the protection/recovery workflow remains consistent.
- For businesses that want to work only in their own private data centres, cloud and SaaS-based backup offer the capability to offload the management and monitoring processes elsewhere, even if on-premises recovery is still retained.
In summary, the public cloud and SaaS are the perfect combination for the long-term needs of data protection because they put data at the heart of the business, not infrastructure.
Metallic is the Future
It’s now easy to see why Metallic is where the future of Commvault lies. The platform offloads the overhead of data protection while supporting SaaS, IaaS and on-premises applications. More important is the ability to keep on-premises recovery capabilities, especially for large enterprises.
One challenge for Commvault over the last decade or more has been the ability to clearly convey the licensing options for on-premises data protection. With so many options, licensing became a bewildering mess of confusing choices. Metallic cuts through all that, making pricing simple – protect the entities – users, virtual machines, mailboxes. Building out infrastructure is much simplified too. In the long term, the customer only needs to scale local data repositories for quick restores.
By moving to a SaaS model, Commvault has effectively disrupted itself, without challenging the existing business. Data protection is a long game. Customers keep data for decades, and many legacy data protection solutions still exist simply to allow the restore of archived backups.
As Metallic ramps up, so the traditional Commvault businesses can scale down. Most importantly, the customer is not left behind in this transition. Although we’ve not seen it yet, as Metallic is based on Commvault technology, it will be relatively easy to import historical backups from existing Commvault deployments into the Metallic platform.
If and when this capability is delivered, the ramifications are enormous. IT organisations won’t be required to maintain multiple backup services and instead will make a clean break from the past. This capability is something no other vendor can offer today.
What about Hedvig? The acquisition cost for the company was a serious investment that still doesn’t have any clarity. There are point solutions where Hedvig can be used, for example, on-premises appliances and potentially the backend storage in the public cloud.
The primary storage market is still a challenge for SDS providers and hasn’t really been cracked successfully by any vendor. This is despite the massive potential value that represents the replacement of traditional storage arrays. I believe the opportunity for Commvault & Hedvig is to integrate primary storage, archive and backup together, creating a solution that is greater than the sum of the parts. We will have to wait and see how this part of the business develops.
The Architect’s View
The thoughts presented in this article represent the ideal path for Commvault and Metallic. Naturally, there will be customers who don’t want to move to a SaaS model and will stay with the pure on-premises solution. There is still a challenge to fully integrate data protection into the public cloud. This means native support of structured databases, integration into the public cloud security model and continuing to offer customers data mobility. The public cloud behemoths may choose to go their own way and dispense with 3rd-party vendors, though I think that’s unlikely. The next 12-24 months is going to be an exciting time for data protection.
You can find a huge amount of related content on our dedicated data protection microsite, which covers data protection concepts. Our data protection ebook is available for immediate purchase here and looks at the wider market of vendors.
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