In this first post of a series on the market and its dynamic forces, I propose an alternative and critical representation of the competitive data protection landscape. This strategic analysis is Arcserve’s own research, but it has been largely vetted with many customers, partners and market luminaries. Here a snapshot of the basic view:

data-protection-marketo-diagram1

Market segment/Organization Profile: In this dimension, we break down the market into 3 distinct segments: SMB, mid-market and enterprise. The numbers indicated on the left axis are essentially a compromise to make this work globally. I agree that in some markets, the thresholds will be different. The point is not just company or organization size, but to also encapsulate some level of business rationale as it relates to IT and data protection, and business size.

Solution Completeness:  in this dimension, we capture the depth and breadth of features. When it comes to data protection, how many technologies does your solution encompass? It’s a blend of data protection techniques: replication, disk imaging, high availability and platform coverage:  physical, virtual, tape, OS support etc. This is a critical dimension that is fundamental for an accurate analysis of the market today. The problem is that customers are fatigued with a fractured or siloed data protection infrastructure and need to simplify their processes.

Also, the more unified, the more and easier control over the Recovery Point Objectives and Recovery Time Objectives (as opposed to having to coordinate multiple niche solutions).

Typically, a niche vendor is more focused on one of the market sub-segments and has an overall limited set of features. This is characteristic of most recent vendors in the market that essentially create products to solve a specific (ideally acute) problem. In time however, these products become mainstream features of competitive vendors (catch-up), or these products expand to add new technologies to be broader.

The dilemma

Most vendors are narrow in their feature scope by design, architecture or maturity. This, in turn, has created a very fragmented data protection market that has become a nightmare for users to manage. That’s a problem when it comes to data recovery…especially since data volumes are still growing exponentially. The big dilemma for vendors is how to expand functional breadth in a way that does not further complicate matters operationally for users. The worse dilemma for users is how to simplify something that is inherently broken.

The architectural answer is a complete unified platform ideally targeted at your market.  Integrated, cobbled-together or “loosely-coupled” solutions are just that and will typically suffer from usability and/or scalability issues (translation:  $$$). The operational answer is extreme usability with control granularity and an easy coordination of complex features.

The only way to address this issue is to have a unified architecture from the get go. You can market yourself as unified, as some people do, but it will catch up with you. Or you can decide as a vendor to be the best at what you do, and ignore that you are adding complexity in the customer’s environment. The pain thresholds have been reached in many organizations and this approach just won’t fly long.

Placing vendors on the chart

If you want to have a great group therapy event with customers or channel partners, use this quadrant and place a vendor logo at the center of it. Ask people to move it up of down for market scope, and left of right for solutions completeness. You would be shocked to see the level of expertise our users and partners collectively hold, especially if you do this in multiple sessions with multiple large groups. We ran such an exercise globally and gained a tremendous amount of insight into our solution and our competitors.

So that we’re clear, we also leverage a robust methodology for evaluating solution completeness, based on a detailed analysis of over 200 attributes. That’s how we build products and constantly evaluate ourselves against the market and our competition. My point: there’s a lot of science behind this.

On the following chart, you will now see how we are looking at the market. Remember, this is based on a lot of work, analysis, input and vetting. It is our opinion at Arcserve, and you are free to form your own and have an alternative view. We’re open for a conversation any time!

data-protection-marketo-diagram2

So what do we see? First, I have not mapped everyone because only wanted to focus on vendor names we hear more often than others in the mid-market and not everyone is relevant to Arcserve (please don’t take it the wrong way). A few remarks:

  • I did not map the delivery modalities (software, cloud, appliance etc.) in this, but if you keep reading my series, I will have more about this topic in a future post
  • This is a static view of what is inherently very dynamic, so things may change over time
  • Different geos will show different placements for certain vendors. That’s a factor of company size and market presence and perception. We have observed differences in our own field research
  • The arrows around the Arcserve logo indicate the markets we serve and where we sell our solution today. Our solution is very scalable and fits many organizations types

Your homework assignment is to now map the year of first release of the architecture for each of this products/vendors. Not how long the company has been around, but how long ago was the platform/solution/architecture introduced?

For those of you who have already mentally done this mapping, great job!

Now you see why traditional market views sometime inadvertently obfuscate the facts, or draw conclusions that may not mean much for you long term.