First there was Data Domain. Its data deduplication capability made it a viable tape alternative for backup applications. Both the idea and product were well received by the market. Data Domain became the king of secondary storage. EMC had attempted to retrofit some of the capabilities of backup application in Data Domain storage system. While it worked from a technology perspective, Data Domain could never replace the backup application itself. This is worth noting when you consider how easy it was for Data Domain to access customers of most big-name backup applications, including Veritas NetBackup, CommVault Simpana and EMC NetWorker.
Then there was Actifio. The idea was well received by the market. People understood that copy data sprawl is a real problem, and the market needed secondary storage solutions capable of virtualizing data. Unfortunately, Actifio’s product execution was subpar. They attempted too much, too far, too fast. The product was pushed and positioned for so many use cases without a solid foundation or a focused go-to market approach. When you are the new kid in the block, you can be popular in the beginning for talking about a lot of cool things. But you must deliver something real that others are eagerly looking for, else life after initial buzz becomes an uphill battle.
Now there is Cohesity. Idea and product are a fusion of those from Data Domain and Actifio. It is yet another secondary storage solution in the crowded secondary storage systems market. It is echoing the Actifio story of wanting to do too much, too far and too fast. And there are fundamental flaws in the pitch vs. the market reality.
For example, Cohesity is pitching that it can plug-in to an existing backup environment as a secondary storage and help customers eventually switch to its own backup application. While that makes a decent technical strategy story, its business viability appears to be nearly zero. This is one of those issues in which product vision blindsided market reality.
Let’s assume that you are a NetBackup customer. You have been using it for a while, but you feel that it is too costly and complex to manage. You are looking to see if there is a way to exit the vicious cycle of paying for NetBackup maintenance just to stay in compliance. Cohesity tells you that you could use their secondary storage system as the storage backend for NetBackup. Cohesity can scale-out as your data needs grow. Eventually, you retire NetBackup and start using Cohesity’s own backup application within its scale-out storage. Isn’t that special?
What Cohesity rep does not know is…
- Veritas requires customers to purchase Data Protection Optimization Add-on (DPO) if you use third party target deduplication devices behind NetBackup. This DPO is the same license you need if you want to use NetBackup’s own media server deduplication pools. Why would anyone pay for Cohesity (to be mounted as NFS) when DPO enables the built-in deduplication?
- The real value of NetBackup’s DPO with third party devices is when you use the device via NetBackup’s OpenStorage API. This is how a third-party device is ‘integrated’ with NetBackup so that you can use advanced capabilities like optimized replication, accelerator, instant recovery and so on. But Cohesity is nowhere near the NetBackup OpenStorage Secondary Solutions Compatibility List: https://www.veritas.com/support/en_US/article.000115690
- NetBackup DPO is not an enforced license. If Cohesity misleads a NetBackup customer into using it as NFS target, the customer is violating NetBackup’s licensing agreement and will be discovered during a license audit.
- Now the NetBackup customer has yet another device to manage and a UI to learn – instead of simplifying the environment, he/she added more complexity.
- Cohesity did nothing to bring down the licensing costs of NetBackup. In fact, the cost increased as now the customer is required to purchase NetBackup DPO for each front-end terabyte (FETB) protected via Cohesity.
Thus, NetBackup customers are highly unlikely to buy into Cohesity’s marketing story. The only way to simplify a backup environment is to look for a modern data protection solution that takes over all of NetBackup’s legacy command-and-control operations (master server, media servers, clients, proxy servers), not just the secondary storage. If data management could be solved at the storage layer; Data Domain, ExaGrid, Quantum or Actifio would have gulped the backup and recovery market by now. For Cohesity, everything looks to be polished nails because it has a better hammer than Data Domain.