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Commvault CMO Chris Powell Fighting the Hardware Conspiracy

Chris Powell, Cheif Marketing Officer, Commvault

Hot on the heels of an IDC study commissioned by Commvault questioning their own customer base, company CMO Chris Powell visited Asia to discuss and highlight the findings of the study.

The study identified the key areas their customers value in the company. According to the survey, customers use Commvault to simplify, de-risk and drive down cost of managing and protecting their data. According to Powell these are the areas Commvault will continue to focus in.

A company built on a heritage of backup and archive, Commvault is currently pushing hard on modern data management. This core market which is critical to Commvault was in significant transition.

Powell pointed out that technologies such as flash, hyperconverged and cloud have changed the dynamics of backup and archive market forever. He believes a completely new and fresh approach needs to be taken. Before the development of those technologies, nearly all corporate data sat within the walls of a corporate datacentre; today that is no longer the case. Thanks to technologies like cloud and increased application mobility, more than half of all corporate data is stored outside of the corporate datacentre.

Chris tells us that these changes have steered Commvault’s own product strategy, with support already built in for twenty-one public cloud providers enabling data portability between clouds. In our interview, he told us that this is not limited to only data but also portability of applications. In the current market, there has yet to be a successful system allowing interoperability for applications between clouds, but Chris seemed confident that Commvault has the solution.

Commvault didn’t always have the prettiest of financial readings, however the last financials to be released seemed to show signs of a genuine turn around. Powell recalls that six quarters ago, Commvault’s CEO publicly stated the company needed to evolve and that transformation was going to take some time. Now as a company Commvault are cautiously optimistic that the transformation is working.

Powell explains that this transformation has been built on three pillars. Product action, organisational change and go to market strategy. On the product side cloud and mobility have been critical; on the go to market, Chris was keen to explain that regional differences have been factored in with variances appropriate for ASEAN built into their local go to market plans.

One big change in Commvault’s market strategy is due to the playing field itself. This space has traditionally been dominated by hardware players, in what Powell refers to as the hardware conspiracy: A deep seated feeling that the storage platform is the most critical part of your data strategy. It is this deep rooted feeling that has enabled traditional storage hardware vendors to lock in their customers.

As Powell put it, the pure hardware play is now becoming a “race to zero”. IT is demanding open data platforms that provide freedom from hardware lock in, and functionality delivered through software. Exactly Commvault’s sweet spot. But it goes further than this.

The IDC study that Commvault commissioned showed that businesses are genuinely starting to look at IT departments for something beyond delivering operational IT as a cost centre. In the case of Commvault that means the CEO will look at the CIO and say “OK so I understand that you can give me nearly 100% uptime for my systems, now explain to me what you can do to add value into the business’s top line.”

Powell believes that Commvault has a real part to play in helping IT departments transform into value added surface providers within the business, who may actually create services and deliverables that contribute to the company’s value.

Commvault are on a journey. It’s been a tough one, but given the unique changes that are happening in the enterprise storage space at the current time, they may just be reinventing themselves in the right way at the right time.

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