Managing & Protecting Mobile Data – Commvault


One of the major mobile cloud issues for companies of all sizes is how to get at, index, archive and protect data from mobile devices of employees. We spoke with Randy DeMeno Chief Technologist of Windows Products & Microsoft Partnership for Commvault, a data management leader, about his company’s growing involvement in “endpoint” data management.

Mobile Data Management – A Fast-Growing Issue

While Data Backup and Recovery are well-accepted IT tasks, recognition of their importance has, in general, been increasing. One impetus has been the rise of “ransomware,” malicious encryption software that blocks a company’s or user’s access to their files, until a ransom is paid. Continuous backup is the most commonly recommended form of preparation for, and defense against, such attacks.

Meanwhile, there is the staggering growth in the amount of data that is generated or accessed at mobile endpoints, such as smartphones, tablets, and, increasingly, other devices (think UAVs, robots, etc.) Mobile devices are subject to the same types of threats as are corporate networks – from malware, browser-based attacks, intercepted transmissions and the like – and are also physically vulnerable to loss and theft.

Ponemon Institute found in a 2016 study that, for Global 2000 companies, there are 53,844 mobile devices on average per company, of which 1,700 “are infected by malware at any given time.” Mobile devices have far greater access to sensitive company information than most IT managers believe. This includes: customer records, confidential documents, employee information, as well as email, text and normally acceptable records. (“The Economic Risk of Confidential Data on Mobile Devices in the Workplace,” Ponemon Inst. & Lookout, 2/16)

As IDC has stated regarding the need for mobile data management:

“Fragmented data stores that contain sensitive corporate data make it very difficult for IT to manage corporate information assets to meet security, recoverability, compliance, and regulatory requirements.” (“Critical Need for Edge Data Protection,” IDC 2016)

Commvault’s “Endpoint” Data Management

Commvault’s basic business approach is to offer clients an array of software options for creating an overall data management solution. The company makes a number of key points about data backup from “endpoints.”

First, while user devices may have backup features, this does not mean that data from the devices is stored in and integrated with the company’s network. The second is that it is critical for this data to be in a searchable archive, permitting eDiscovery. Third, without a complete data management solution, control is lost both to third party storage and sharing services (e.g., Dropbox) and to BYOD devices that may mix personal and corporate data.

To enable integration of a mobile device with a client’s overall data management system, a Commvault client is loaded on the remote device which enables: (a) backup and recovery of data, (b) archiving and searching of endpoint data, (c) user collaboration, with file synchronization, (d) encryption and security such as wiping of lost devices. The company also states:

“While minimizing risk, Commvault also fuels BYOD productivity by letting users freely access, edit, and upload to their personal clouds.”

Commvault – Holistic Approach to Data Management

Commvault has received favorable attention because of its leading ranking in a well-publicized Gartner “Magic Quadrant” report, in which the company is placed well above the likes of IBM, EMC and all others on its Vision and Execution capability.

While the Gartner report is entitled “Data Center Backup and Recovery Software,” De Meno states that the company prefers to describe their business as “data management.” He states that, “Data from every endpoint – whether it is a PC, a tablet, a smartphone or the cloud – has to be managed, searchable, indexable and recoverable.”

Obviously, a large number of companies, including IT majors, offer a variety of data backup and recovery services. Commvault, however, claims uniqueness for its unified Single Platform, stating:

“Our Single Platform is unique and differentiates us from our competitors, some of whom address market needs by offering multiple and disparate point products that have come together as a collection often as a result of acquisition strategies.”

DeMeno attributes much of the cohesiveness of their platform to an early decision to build the platform based on Windows. “We made Microsoft a key partner,” he states. The relationship continues and the company states that: “Our deep integration with the full range of Microsoft products lets you migrate with confidence to the latest version of Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server, Windows Server and more.”

An Array of Options

DeMeno explains that the company offers an array of solutions based on this platform. “Options can include items such as: Backup, Archiving, Deduplication, eDiscovery, Search and other features.”

He believes they can reinforce their competitive advantage and “expand the definition of data management.” He points out that they are hardware agnostic. They support 31 different cloud providers.

The company has over 22,000 customers. Although it gets uniquely high marks from the likes of Gartner, the Gartner survey omits two points that highlight additional strengths of Commvault. First, the Gartner report is limited to companies that supply larger enterprises only (500 or more employees), while Commvault’s offerings are used by thousands of smaller organizations as well. DeMeno points out that the company serves over 200 MSPs (managed service providers) whose clouds are used by myriad organizations. He states, “We reach more customers through the MSPs than we do direct.”

Secondly, the Gartner report also expressly excluded backup and recovery of “endpoint device data,” one of the key areas that Commvault emphasizes.

Pricing and Verticals

Commvault has historically offered its software under perpetual licenses that are priced on a “per terabyte capacity basis, per-copy, as site licenses or as a solution set.” While a per unit basis based on some measure of computer capacity is used for pricing some of the services – i.e., per virtual machine for the Commvault virtual machine backup, recovery and cloud management solution set; and per mailbox for the email archive solution set – the Endpoint data protection solution set is priced “per user” covered.

While a small amount of revenue has come from services sold under “subscription, or term based, license arrangements” (which require revenue to be recognized ratably over the term), the company states that: “Over the next several years we expect revenue from these types of arrangements to become a more significant portion of our total revenue.”

Regarding customer verticals, the company has recently reported numerous wins in the government and public sector as well healthcare. In its latest reported quarter these included entities such as: NIH, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Small Business Administration, Brandeis University, Eisenhower Medical Center and others.

DeMeno asserts that in many instances, public sector entities (Government, Education) are actually more aggressive than many enterprises, in terms of moving to the cloud. Among verticals the company serves, he states that Healthcare is “getting there” with respect to accepting the cloud, but that questions linger about compliance issues. Commvault offers its services for on premises systems as well as in the cloud. Other verticals that they highlight are Legal and Service Providers.

Commvault also offers a range of support and professional services in conjunction with its data management software products. Typically, the Service element of its business has provided greater than 50% of the company’s total revenue.

Our Take

As regards endpoint management, it would appear that there is significant overlap in a number of functions between the offerings of EMM companies (enterprise mobile management – see: “EMM, IBM/Fiberlink, Security – ‘196 Years To Hack Your Phone,’” MCE 12/12/15) and a company like Commvault. However, Commvault would point out that its objective is to integrate endpoint data with the entire client data management system.

An aspect of Commvault of particular interest to MCE is its record of cohesive development of its products and workforce. When we asked DeMeno about acquisitions, he responded that there haven’t been any – an exceptional factor for a company over a more than 20-year span in which there has been so much industry consolidation, while it has managed to maintain an industry-leading status.

The company also boasts a strong record of employee retention. DeMeno states, “I’ve been here for over twenty years, and I’m not the senior employee in terms of years of service.

To bolster its position, the company spends about 12% of its revenue (which is currently running at about a $600 million per year rate) on R&D. It holds over 400 U.S. and nearly 90 foreign patents, with over 250 more pending patent applications in the U.S. and over 30 abroad.

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