Whether you call it hyperconverged secondary storage or cloud data management, the demand for this type of software-defined storage is booming. This is something no one disputes.
What is hotly disputed, however, is the term “hyperconverged secondary storage.”
Cohesity and Rubrik lead the sector. Cohesity coined the term; but Rubrik calls it a “disservice to the industry.”
Secondary storage encompasses file shares, archives, analytics, backups, unstructured content, and test and development data — essentially everything that’s not mission critical. This data makes up 80 percent of enterprises’ storage needs, according to Cohesity.
Traditionally, enterprises have addressed their secondary storage needs with bulky backup and storage appliances, with multiple copies of data sprawled across storage infrastructure.
“Secondary use cases are things like data protection, but also other use cases like test-dev platforms, analytics platforms,” explained IDC analyst Phil Goodwin. “You make a copy of the primary data or the application, and you use it for a secondary purpose.”
But this leads to the copy data management problem.
“Research has shown the numbers of copies made by organizations averages about 13 copies of each data base or file system,” Goodwin said. “It becomes an incredibly inefficient use of storage. It blows up your capacity and costs you a lot of money. Secondly, it can cause bottlenecks and limit your primary storage performance.”
Disruptive Data Backup
This is why Cohesity and Rubrik’s secondary storage technology is so disruptive. It addresses enterprises’ growing data volumes and simplifies data centers by bringing all of this data onto one scale-out platform. This allows customers to grow storage on demand.
Plus, these platforms offer features such as deduplication and search capabilities. And they allow companies to manage disparate file types and storage across multiple clouds through a single pane of glass.
Gartner forecasts that more than 80 percent of enterprise data will be stored in scale-out storage systems in enterprise and cloud data centers by 2021, up from 30 percent in 2017.
Cohesity and Rubrik tapped into three major pain points of secondary storage, said Dave Russel, a VP and analyst at Gartner.
“It costs too much, it’s too difficult to use, and the speed is not meeting expectations,” he said. “Historically, backup was the insurance policy you hoped you’d never have to cash.”
Russel’s been covering backup technology for almost 30 years. Watching Cohesity and Rubik’s rapid rise “has been really fun,” he said.
“We haven’t seen many examples over that amount of time where emerging vendors are able to influence the industry,” he added. “But Rubrik and Cohesity, they caused Commvault to react. They caused Dell EMC to come out with its integrated data protection appliance. It shows the market is in flux over those three pain points. Regardless of if they are wining every deal, just the fact that they are now known by name and come up on a short list is a credit that they’ve got their fingers on what is a pain point in the market.”
Cohesity Hyperconverged Secondary Storage
Last month Cohesity added file and object storage to its data backup platform. The capabilities allow customers to consolidate secondary storage, eliminating data copies and hardware silos.
Cohesity CEO Mohit Aron started the hyperconverged secondary storage company in 2013 after also co-founding Nutanix and working as a Google File System engineer. The company’s customers include Shutterstock, Manhattan Associates, the U.S. Energy Department, Tribune Media, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
In 2017 Cohesity saw a 600 percent increase in sales revenue, compared to the previous year, and more than doubled its customer count. Also last year the company closed a $90 million Series C funding round co-led by investors Google Ventures and Sequoia Capital with participation from Cisco Investments, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and other venture capital firms.
“The big vision here is to be able to run Cohesity wherever your data is: your core data center, out in the cloud with multiple cloud providers, and out at the edge,” said Patrick Rogers, VP of marketing and products at Cohesity.
And as the market for this type of software-defined, scalable storage grows, traditional data protection vendors are taking note.
“They’re starting to adopt the term hyperconverged secondary storage and copy us,” Rogers said, citing ExaGrid and Commvault. ExaGrid calls its backup product hyperconverged secondary storage. In October, Commvault launched a similar product called HyperScale appliance with HyperScale software.
“It’s a direct effort to compete with us — albeit a very immature product,” Rogers said. “But you will hear more about hyperconverged secondary storage. The established vendors are realizing they have to respond. And some of the newer startups will start using this term.”
Rubrik Cloud Data Management
One company that you won’t hear using the term is Rubrik.
“It’s like going to the beach wearing a tuxedo,” said Chris Wahl, chief technologist at Rubrik. “It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Lending credit to this term is a disservice to the industry.”
Hyperconverged secondary storage is just a marketing term, he added.
“How can I tie myself to some really cool buzzwords?” Wahl said. “Nutanix and SimpliVity, they really coined the hyperconverged infrastructure term. It’s super popular. Secondary storage is newer, but if you tie it to hyperconverged, it’s cool.”
Rubrik, which launched in 2014, calls its product a cloud data management solution. And like its competitor, Rubrik is experiencing massive growth.
In February, the company announced a global bookings run rate approaching $300 million. It also added Microsoft Chairman John Thompson to its board of directors.
During fiscal year 2017, the company more than quadrupled its customer base and tripled its employee count, compared to 2016.
Customers include the U.S. Department of Defense, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, Jones Lang LaSalle, France Télévisions Publicite, JE Dunn, U.S. Navy CNIC, and Willis Towers Watson.
In April 2017, Rubrik announced that it raised $180 million at a $1.3 billion valuation. The round was led by IVP (same folks who invested in Slack, Snapchat, AppDynamics, MuleSoft) with participation from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Greylock Partners.
“We’re definitely causing a stir throughout the data protection world,” Wahl said. “The growth has been explosive.”
Wahl attributed this to data backup “complexity and pain.”
“It’s awesome, and horrible,” he added. “Awesome, because everybody has it and the market is huge. Horrible because everybody has it, and that’s no fun.”
In June 2017, the company launched Alta, its ninth release of its cloud data management platform. The new release provides support across physical Linux, Windows, and NFS devices; VMware, Microsoft, and Nutanix virtualized operating environments, and Amazon Web Services and MMicrosoft Azure public clouds. For edge locations, the product is available in a software-only solution designed to run in remote virtualized environments.
“Our cloud data management software was natively designed to integrate with public cloud,” Wahl said. “The design is such that it makes it really easy and simple to use for public cloud customers. We can put data in the public cloud, but we can also bring it back very easily, very cost effectively.”
Customers can use this stored data in the cloud, he added. “If you want to build applications from that data stored in the public cloud, you can do that with two clicks,” he explained. “The data’s not just sitting there, like an insurance policy. It’s data you can use.”