Veeam won't get physical (backup)

Veeam is a backup software company and pioneer of virtual machine backup. Way back when, while most backup software was firmly rooted in the old world of physical servers and an agent on every box, Veeam and a few others (Quest, PHD Virtual et al) began to offer specialised products aimed at protecting VMs.

Gradually, the mainstream incumbents of the backup world (Symantec, CommVault, HP, EMC, IBM TSM et al) incorporated virtual machine backup into their products. This, one might have imagined, could have adversely affected the fortunes of the VM backup specialists.

But it didn’t, and Veeam in particular, roared from nowhere into second place in a TechTarget survey question on customers’ backup provider preferences. The mystery then became, why would so many customers, who must have backup products from the incumbents deployed, buy Veeam in such large numbers and add another backup product to their infrastructure?

Speaking to Veeam VP for product strategy Doug Hazelman this week ahead of its VeeamON forum in London he gave his interpretation on that phenomenon. In short, he thinks it’s often just too much trouble for enterprises to deploy the new virtualisation-focussed features in their products.

He said: “Many want to have a single vendor environment but the reality is they have more than one, probably 2.5 to 3 on average. Do they like that situation? Everyone thinks it’s the Holy Grail to standardise on one backup product but in truth they’d lose a lot of features by doing so.”

“Virtualisation and the cloud are the future but in many cases we find customers don’t take advantage of the virtualisation features in incumbent products. That’s because they’d have to retool their entire existing deployment and so they think, ‘Why not just look at best of breed?’ Also, lots of companies are just not happy with the backup products they have in place.”

It’s a plausible explanation, though not one that we can easily test, but it would account for Veeam’s good showing in the backup product stakes of late.

The other puzzler for me in backup recently is why server backup software providers do not backup mobile and endpoint devices. Currently you can backup laptops with some of the mainstream backup products but none as far I know extend to smartphones, tablets and the like.

Meanwhile, however, companies such as Druva make a good living by offering endpoint/BYOD backup etc. And it’s an area that appears necessary to achieve compliance as data stored anywhere may face a requirement to be retained for legal e-discovery etc.

So, why doesn’t Veeam consider it an area it needs to address?

Hazelman’s view was this. “If people bring their own stuff into the workplace it’s difficult to manage from a backup perspective. Personally, I don’t need backup for my own laptop. If I lost it today I wouldn’t lose data as it’s all also somewhere else. It’s a better approach to protect what’s on servers than what’s on laptops.”

I’m a little less than convinced by this. But it’ll be interesting to hear the view of others interested in backup and data protection. 

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