I have been in the storage industry for over 25 years. I have done a lot of jobs in this industry. One of the greatest jobs I ever had was being an Analyst for the Enterprise Storage Group (in the day, that is what they were called.).
Because, in those days there wasn’t a ton of technologists running around focusing on different segments of the storage technology industry, there was a need to have a broad perspective on the areas of technology to cover. Some people may say, “so you cover a lot of technologies but not too deep”. The reality is, vendors would talk to the analysts about how their solutions fit into the data center to help solve real business challenges.
A specific area of storage technology I covered was backup (today its more often called data protection). In the early 2003’s there were 3 big companies who held the Gartner MQ title as leaders for data protection.
These were, VERITAS NetBackup, Legato Networker (bought by EMC), and IBM TSM (recently rebranded to IBM Spectrum Protect).
At the end of the day, when speaking with users about these products, your quick to find that there really isn’t much of a big difference between these solutions. And if you think about it, why would there be? At the end of the day, the “job” of a backup product is to make a copy of the production data and put it in a safe place. Really that is it. Then a few things happened.
First, we had a horrific disaster and the definition of a “safe place” quickly evolved. Then a few laws were broken, and compliance and archiving data became necessary. Then, as we have been experiencing the exponential growth of data, the need to store this “secondary copy” of data, needed to be done so at the right cost. These events started new conversations on terms to use in the data protection space and the tools necessary to meet the new demands of disaster recovery, archiving and backup all at the right costs.
And just as in any industry, where there is a need, there tends to be VC money to put toward solving that need. Startup companies like RecoverPoint (sold to EMC), Avamar (sold to EMC), Data Domain (sold to EMC), Sepaton (sold to HDS) as well as others were all created to move data faster and store data cheaper to meet all the new requirements. This changed the landscape for the data protection analysts who were trying to help clients understand the segment of data protection and there became a host of new categories created and used to describe which technologies could be used to solve which problems.
Just as the market evolved, so did the analyst industry. A number of great analysts moved into the vendor communities because, we believed we could help solve real client challenges. That exodus created issues for the analyst firms. No longer do these firms have good people that understand the market enough to talk about not only what is available but how we got into situations we are in with regard to data protection, and without history, it’s very hard to architect good, smart solutions.
Now, I am not saying that the analysts in these firms are not good, but what I will say is that most analysts today are good at looking at single product companies or a single solution that does 'backup/recovery' (for example) and analyzing them. They are not good, however, at looking at companies that provide solutions that solve multiple data protection challenges like Backup/Recovery, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Data Reuse, Cyber Resiliency and/or Storage Efficiency with multiple solutions or go-to-market strategies.
When I look at the Gartner MQ that came out recently, it is clear that the people that put the report together, understand the concept of “backup” however, it is also clear that they read and listened to all the vendors (especially the newer ones) that do backup and picked some baseline (based on new capabilities) as to what the “standard” of backup needs to be. It’s not that I don’t think that Rubrik or Cohesity should be in the MQ as “visionaries”, for example, they do. It is important that users understand new capabilities that are available for architecting new approaches to solve data protection challenges. But the folks at Gartner who did the MQ this year (I should point out the team on this report is very new as its first year since the brain trust at Gartner had a mass exodus last year of all who were working on the data protection MQ, and who are super late, months, getting this report out) seem to have forgotten the objective of what they need to try to accomplish with this report.
I am not sure that a lot of people know what the MQ really stands for. Having been in this industry for a long time and seeing these MQ reports for years there really is a standard break down. On the “completeness of vision” axis, it is all about new technologies to solve challenges that are hard. Think storage efficiency. When storing secondary data at low cost became very important, companies such as Data Domain that provided a high degree of backup storage efficiency with data deduplication, they rated very high in the completeness of vision segment. The “ability to execute” axis is really based on one item; how much revenue are you driving (or how many customers do you have). That’s, it. Is that the right metric? I really don’t know; I think it may actually be.
Based on either understanding or not understanding these metrics, I can clearly see why Rubrik is very upset. I mean everyone wants to be in the upper most quadrant and be above everyone else. To some degree these reports are treated as a popularity contest and I don’t blame Rubrik for shining the BS meter on Gartner. It is important that Gartner be able to defend their statements. However, here is the reality. First, there can only be one number 1. Second, there is a factor of time in the market. That time in the market is going to get you revenue and a client base to drive that revenue. For example, Veeam showed up in the MQ in 2011 in the “Leaders” category, but they had been in the market for 7+ years and had over 150,000 customers, that means they had a real install base to drive real revenue and are a solid company, so that if you were looking for a new solution on the market, they proved they were a viable company.
Another thing that can be reflected here would be where IBM fits into the Gartner MQ. It is bizarre to me that a vendor that has been in the data protection industry for greater than 25 years and has solutions that satisfy all client needs around Backup/Recovery, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity, Data Reuse, Cyber Resiliency and/or Storage Efficiency and offers a truly software-defined solution that can deliver end-to-end tru "data protection as well as integrate with other solutions a client may have to help the client achieve the desired, added data protection they need. This means, as an example, clients don't need to rip and replace their existing backup solution to have cyber resiliency. Between IBM’s longevity in business, offerings and go to market, as well as the fact we are the most trusted brand for security by clients, which is important in this space, tells me again, the folks who do this report are really not that connected to the data protection industry.