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Everyone is #1 in VM Backup!

Level 3

Lauren Whitehouse at ESG had an interesting blog post a couple of weeks ago about the battle between two vendors in the virtual backup space and their childish twittering about who ruled more. It got me thinking about the mad rush by all vendors to capitalize on the virtualization movement. Somehow in the race to rule VMworld someone forgot to inform the real world that there can't be 4 #1 vendors in the same space. Unpossible! 

So Lauren, thank you for bringing a reasoned voice to the conversation. It is Twitter wars like the one that triggered your blog that have created a need for organizations to investigate social media archiving, something we added to the new release of Enterprise Vault 10 and covered in a recent survey. Putting all of the good things social media delivers aside for a moment, the reason that social media incidents are so expensive is that social media makes it easy for people to engage in battles that would have never seemed appropriate in traditional marketing or media in the past. When this happens, when the send button is on every device, every web page, every document it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. When it gets messy, the lawyers get involved and e-discovery costs mount.

Back to Data Protection....Where Virtually Everyone Gets a Trophy!

Beyond the Twitter-webs, I am blown away by the turn that marketing in the data protection space has taken in the last few months and blogged about it recently (bombastic). Steve Foskett posted similar commentary earlier this year as well (When Marketing Becomes Pointless).  It is as if the data protection market has been turned into a schoolyard and somehow the technical buyers of backup technology must stand in to referee. The reality is that the backup buyer is too busy to officiate Twitter wars and too focused on the responsibility of protecting the critical assets of an organization to officiate truth from tit for tat.

  • The backup/datacenter buyer I have worked with is more focused on the long-term strategy of their organization and mapping out how they see a virtual world combining with the physical world they already manage. Eventually the noise of the twitter wars dulls but the phone calls to the backup admin and the VM team continue loud and clear. 
  • The voice on the other end will not care whether the files that need to be recovered come from a virtual machine or a physical machine.
  • The budget meeting doesn’t care if your storage growth is in virtual or physical; all that will matter is finding a way to reduce that cost.
  • The virtualization project will stall out if we somehow continue to think that it is ok to treat virtualized data and systems to a lesser SLA’s and workflows than physical machines.
  • The lawyer who calls the backup admin won’t care about anything other than making sure those backup tapes or archive files are preserved. You don’t get to ask if it is files on VMware, Hyper-V or elsewhere. (Beyond that, that lawyers don’t care if the data is from e-mail or social media or a napkin: Reuters Blog)

Social Media is a Good Thing

I fully believe in the value of social media.

But, I don’t believe in advertising when I hire someone away from the competition (It’s usually a personal financial decision or a form of corporate imitation).

I don’t choose to berate the competition on their financial performance (every business with long term significance has an up or down quarter at some point).

I don’t send personal messages to my colleagues in this space antagonizing them to engage in public battles.

Social media is about helping people, adding value, sharing knowledge and connecting people. If we can focus our time on the problems customers are trying to solve and deliver product that meets those needs I’ll stay out of the Twitter-wars.  Since it seems the old bar has been lowered, lets set a new bar for marketing,

1.Solve Problems in an Interesting Way-

“If you talk to people in the way advertising talks to people they would punch you in the face.” (unknown) Customers are humans. They want to understand in your marketing how you are helping them solve their problem and they would prefer if you made it interesting. Watching an argument between vendors about things like market share and market cap doesn’t matter. When the conversation focuses there, is it about corporate ego, not customers

Earlier this year we saw marketing stunts from one vendor focused on breaking Guinness records for putting as many people in a Mini Cooper as possible. It was interesting. But, it fell just short on the, “how does this help solve my problem” measure. I challenged my team to revisit the analogy and deliver something interesting but far less expensive that could still clearly articulate the way Symantec’s dedupe technology works to reduce storage.  Watch our product teams make their acting debut below. (Note: They won’t be quitting their day jobs delivering Backup Exec 2012 and NBU 7.5 come first)

   Symantec Dedupe Everywhere Explained with Mini Coopers

   Deep Dive on Digital WhiteBoard


2. Help People-

Sometimes vendors focus on small battles between themselves while ignoring the big picture.  The average IT architect Symantec works with has been in his/her role for 13 years. Because of this, they want to understand how it all works together to drive the business. Focus on the success of the business for the customer, then focus on showing how you add value. If your offering can’t succeed at either, perhaps the last available option is to engage in schoolyard tactics with the competition. 

 Always ask, does this action help our customers?  Is the battle we are choosing one for our customers or one for our corporate egos? People from all roles are adopting social media at Symantec. We have engineers, QAs, pmm, execs, product managers working to help our customers and it's been fun to connect more directly with the people we build software for. There are thousands of participants in Symantec Connect and it is the world's single greatest aggregation of backup knowledge and users all thanks to the community of customers, partners and Symantec employees. Sure,   social media has its dangers; there is the frustrated tech user at midnight venting, the trolls, the competitor. But, by and large, it’s a community of people working together to help each other succeed.

3. Advance their Top Priorities-

The virtualization wave the industry is riding right now is incredible. It has changed IT giving the datacenter newfound speed, dynamism and flexibility.  But, there is this notion of VM stall. This idea relates to concerns that the first 3rd of virtualization was easy. However, as we get into virtualizing business critical applications it gets harder to keep the pace.  A virtual glass ceiling develops and VM progress slows down. We believe that the best way to keep the momentum is to help customers break through these barriers and see through the walls. The way Symantec is doing this is through an initiative called V-Ray, our strategy to deliver X-Ray-like visibility across physical and virtual environments, across platforms and deep into virtual machines.

V-Ray is the organizing principle behind the problems we aim to solve in the datacenter and the technology we engineer for virtual machines. With V-Ray we believe our customers are better equipped to reach 50% virtualized and beyond than they are running point solutions for backup, security and storage management.


Core Tenets of V-RAY

  1. Technology needs common visibility into physical and virtual

  2. Technology must recognize the differences between physical and virtual and deliver performance optimized for each.
  3. Technology must ultimately break down the walls between systems to enable effective application of technology in a datacenter/cloud built on multiple platforms, physical or virtual.

Here are a few examples of technology Symantec has brought to bear to help accelerate our customer’s virtualization efforts.

            Scan Storm Prevention: You can’t run AV scans on virtual machines the same way you run them on physical machines. Your AV technology needs to have the visibility to see the hosts and make intelligent decisions about how to scan the systems so as not to create performance issues on the host.

            Recovery: Recovering files on virtual machines requires the same deep granularity as we have come to expect on physical machines.  Unfortunately, many solutions have not been able to deliver the same deep visibility for virtual machines without first copying all of the files, mounting them and then searching for the file needed. With V-Ray Symantec customers can quickly recovery a single file from physical or virtual without the debilitating recovery process.

            Deduplication: Duplicate files live everywhere. They don’t care if they live on a physical server or a virtualized server. Point solutions sacrifice dedupe efficiency by focusing on only one portion of the environment. If your backup software only sees a portion of your environment, you are only deduping a portion.

            Admin/Training/Licensing: Symantec pioneered new methods of licensing over the past 24 months to help simplify data protection licensing. We still have work to do but are seeing good adoption of the new model. Customers don’t want to deal with the complexity associated with licensing a new solution for every type or server and every type of virtual machine. To keep the VM project on the fast track, customers are looking to extend their existing investment, not start over. To address opex budget challenges they are looking for ways to drive down complexity, not add to it by rolling a new solution for each virtualization platform.

            Storage Management: Physical machines need storage just like virtual machines. Running storage management technology that can’t see and manage the whole environment is a recipe for inefficiency.


What is next for V-Ray in the NetBackup and Backup Exec products?

At VMworld we delivered a first to market innovation with Backup Exec and App HA integration. Together these products integrate to prepare for a recovery before other HA and backup systems would even know the app is down.

We did 100’s of demos of NetBackup’s recently delivered V-Ray technology that can automatically detect and protect new VMs as they come online, even if the backup admin didn’t know the VM team set them up.  And, we will stay focused on innovation to help our customers accelerate their virtualization goals. We will do this by delivering technology built for virtual environments that is also integrated with existing business processes, licensing and workflows.  Time spent on twitter wars is time wasted on product innovation and for our IT architects and backup admins that is the only thing that matters.


Now Back to My Puzzle….

How can everyone be #1 in VMware backup?  I asked a few vendors who were proudly displaying the signage that must make it true.  Here is what I got in addition to a cloud shaped USB key, a glowing green ball, a gift card and a hat. These are actual quotes. 

Q: What makes you #1 in VMware backup?

  • ·      "........(silence)  I have no Idea"

  • ·      "I don't know, I think it is a marketing thing"

  • ·      "We did a survey"  (I followed up on the source survey, it was a sample set of less than 300 people. I bet I could find 300 people in Vegas that think that Elvis is alive! Does that mean he is?) 

  • ·      "I don't really know. But, I do know we have a crapload of market share". (That was my favorite and this is a direct quote from a badged employee standing next to a giant sign claiming #1 in VMware backup status.)

  • ·      The best answer I got was simple. "I'm not sure how we arrived at the claim but here is a free trial, you figure it out"

I don't think being #1 in VMware backup is the end game. I think being #1 in backup whether it is VMware, Hyper-V, Physical, Virtual, etc, etc, that matters. That's how clouds are built, on platforms, not parochialism.  


Here is a look at Symantec's numbers: 

1.6+ million backup customers and generally about 40% market share in backup market revenue depending on which analyst firms you like to read.

If we pick a common virtualization rate in the market I just don't see how it is possible for any other vendor to be hanging banners for #1 in virtualization. 

If you are into virtualization and want to deliver the best SLAs to your app owners, check out NetBackup and Backup Exec. We can deliver the confidence in backup and recovery that will help your VM project accelerate.

If you want to connect with the largest community of backup experts in the world check out Symantec Connect, we welcome you. Our team may not have 17,000 tweets and we are probably not the mayor of some airport lounge on Foursquare. We don’t engage in Twitter wars and we don’t tell you what we ate for lunch everyday. But, that’s because we are trolling Connect and Twitter doing our best to help our customers. Join us and folks like Ken Putnam, Tony Sterling, Marianne van den Berg, Jesuswept 12, and Stumpr who spend their free time online building our community by contributing over 35,000 comments to the benefit of our community. In this situation, when everyone helps, everyone wins and you won't need a poster to claim it. 



Director of Product Marketing @Symantec