Will dedicated VMware protection solutions go the way of CDP? (A response)

Jay Livens (@SEPATONJay) wrote a blog post the other day called Will dedicated VMware protection solutions go the way of CDP? I responded with a comment that I couldn’t disagree more about the analogy and its implications.   But on further thought, the article did at least make me think, so I thought I’d respond in more detail here.

The first reason is that many people (including me) felt that the initial attempts at CDP failed for several reasons.  I articulated these reasons in this SearchStorage.com article, I said the reasons were:

  • All the companies were startups  (i.e. fear of them disappearing stifled adoption)
  • It was too big a pill to swallow (it was very, very different than what they were used)
  • The products weren’t up to the task (onsite or offsite backups, but not both, forced you to have two products)
  • It was a great idea before its time (that time is starting to be now, FWTW)

Another thing that many said was that CDP was a product looking for a solution.  There simply wasn’t enough pain to force people to swallow the big pill from a startup company that still required them to keep their old backup product.

The first reason I don’t like the CDP analogy is that the VMware backup world is completely the opposite.  There is a lot of pain in the VMware backup space.  I heard from many folks that went to VMware world that backups are still up there as one of the number one things limiting VMware adoption.  There is real pain there.  While Jay is right that the majority of people still do guest-based backups, they hate it.  They want off guest-based backups so bad they can taste it.

The first mover to really attempt to solve that problem was Vizioncore, and the two fast followers are Veeam and PHDVirtual.  Customers that have migrated to these solutions seem much, much happier than their brethren that are still using what the big guys are offering.  Jay mentioned a survey he conducted that showed that these apps were trailing significantly behind the rest of the solutions.  I mean no offense, but I’m having a hard time taking a backup survey seriously where 10% of the respondents said “Backup, What is that?”  Whatever the numbers are, I believe they’re far greater than anything the “old CDP folks” saw.  I know a number of those companies that went belly up that had a single digit number of customers.

Another reason I don’t like the analogy is that the bulk of the CDP products haven’t gone anywhere; they just got bought by bigger companies.  And products like EMC’s RecoverPoint (FKA Kascha) is doing very well as a standalone product not integrated into NetWorker.  IBM is selling Fastback (FKA FilesX), also not integrated into TSM.  Inmage is also doing quite well as an independent company.  My point is that Jay was saying that what happened to CDP is proof that people only want backup apps that integrate into their bigger stack, and I’m saying that the evidence suggests otherwise.  If the problem is big enough, they’ll buy anything to solve it.

I’d say a better question is will dedicated VMware protection solutions go the way of dedicated Windows snapshot solutions?  Remember St. Bernard?  Remember, um, those other guys?  They all disappeared when Windows finally solved the problem they were attempting to solve by coming out with VSS.  They disappeared overnight!

Yes, these dedicated backup apps may get bought by bigger companies.  (Vizioncore just got bought by Quest Software.)  Yes, they may even get bought and integrated into other backup products.  But will they go the way of Windows snapshot products?  That would only happen if VMware decided to compete with their own partners, and I think they’re too smart to do that.

Another point that I believe that Jay was trying to make was that people would rather have one backup app that does everything (even if it’s not as good) than have one product that does physical servers and another that does virtual servers.  I agree that’s what I would want, and I think most people would want it as well.  However, until VMware addresses the fact their data protection API still doesn’t do the right thing for applications, any of the vendors that are simply programming to the vStorage APIs still don’t have a proper way to back up applications.)

Add to that the fact that these dedicated backup apps have gone much farther than just getting a good backup, and I think they’ll be around for a long time.  (I’m referring to Veeam’s announcements about their 5.0 product that does instant recoveries, and Vizioncore’s announcement that they would do the same thing.)  As long as they’re better than any of the options, there will be plenty of money to be made for everyone.


----- Signature and Disclaimer -----

Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Evangelist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.

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