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Commvault customers lukewarm on Metallic and Hedvig

Customers at Commvault Go said they were having trouble coming up with reasons for adopting Metallic SaaS backup or Hedvig software-defined storage until they hear more details.

After hearing about Metallic and Hedvig at Commvault’s user show, the crowd went mild.”

Metallic is Commvault's new SaaS-based subsidiary focused on delivering data protection products as subscription services hosted on Microsoft Azure. Hedvig is a recent acquisition whose core software-defined storage product is designed for easy primary storage management and visibility across hybrid environments. Commvault customers got to look at them at Commvault Go last week when they were hailed by its CEO Sanjay Mirchandani. Mirchandani, Metallic and Hedvig were the most public additions to Commvault since its 2018 user conference.

Many customers at the show acknowledged the potential use cases for Hedvig and Metallic, but were less enthusiastic about adopting them into their own infrastructure.

Some -- including Jacob Matusevich, senior infrastructure manager at Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston -- have invested in on-premises infrastructure and don't see a good reason to switch all of it to the cloud. Matusevich said the system he has is already proved and working, so there isn't any compelling reason for him to ditch it.

"The challenge for companies like ours that are already invested into on-prem backup infrastructure is we can't just throw it all away for backup as a service," Matusevich said during a panel at the show.

Other Commvault Go attendees said Metallic's capabilities weren't as all-encompassing as what's found in Commvault Complete, which they've already bought. Metallic, so far, is limited to only backup, whereas Commvault Complete can handle disaster recovery, workflow automation and analytics.

"To be honest, the features I've seen so far in Metallic we can do already," said Scott Hunter, global infrastructure services director at U.K. biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

To be honest, the features I've seen so far in Metallic we can do already.
Scott HunterGlobal infrastructure services director, AstraZeneca

"If you were a new company [Metallic] would make perfect sense, but someone like us who's already established, it only does what we're already doing with Commvault," said Justin Mason, associate director, vendor and operations at University of Canberra.

One use case that Commvault pitches for Metallic is protection for remote offices, acquisitions or divisions of a larger enterprise. That would give them a degree of autonomy and self-service with their IT infrastructure. However, Hunter was quick to shoot that notion down.

"We want to manage all that stuff centrally," Hunter said.

Zachary Kruszewski, core engineer at Emerson Electric, said he is on the fence about Metallic. Three years ago, he started a project of unifying the company's remote offices under one central IT management, which meant consolidating backup to one product. Initially, he didn't see going over to Metallic because his Commvault system on premises could deliver his backups faster and more cheaply.

"I can do it a lot cheaper internally. I have the resources, I have people who are already trained on it," Kruszewski said.

Photo of Commvault CEO onstage at keynote.
Commvault CEO Sanjay Mirchandani likened storage management and using the stored data intelligently to two halves of a brain at the Commvault Go keynote.

However, Kruszewski is still in a fact-finding stage as he identifies all the different point products used in each of Emerson Electric's remote offices. He said he still isn't sure if it might be simpler to have them use Metallic instead of folding them into the larger Commvault umbrella.

Zepu Chen, system and security administrator at Denison University, based in Granville, Ohio, said he will look into Metallic. Chen is one of only two people on Denison's IT staff, and he switched to Commvault from Veritas NetBackup because he said there was less "babysitting" involved. He said switching to software as a service could lower his interaction with backup administration.

"In general, all software as a service is interesting to me because it really reduces the administrators' needs," Chen said. "Maybe next year when we do a hardware refresh, we can think about doing a SaaS instead of renewing our hardware contract."

Hedvig not of primary concern

Commvault customers seemed less certain of what to make of Hedvig. While Metallic addresses Commvault's core data protection business, Hedvig is primary storage.

Commvault chief storage strategist and former Hedvig CEO Avinash Lakshman gave a demo of Hedvig as part of Wednesday's Go keynote, but Commvault offered few details on how it would integrate Hedvig into its core products. Mirchandani talked in broad strokes about combining Hedvig and Commvault for more efficient storage management and intelligent data usage would be unified, but he failed to lay out a roadmap. As a result, many customers still viewed Hedvig as a separate product, and they didn't know what to do with it.

Hunter said many of Hedvig's capabilities are available in NetApp Cloud Volumes Ontap, which is what he currently uses for hybrid cloud storage. He said overprovisioning cloud storage was a big concern and his impetus for using Cloud Volumes Ontap.

Kruszewski is using Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure for primary storage, protected by Commvault. He said he'll eventually have to consider whether to switch to Hedvig.

"There's overlap between Nutanix and Hedvig, so we just need to identify that and determine which is better," Kruszewski said.

Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Christophe Bertrand said customers aren't sure what Hedvig means for them right now, and they won't buy in without a roadmap or more clear value propositions.

In Metallic's case, he said backup as a service for servers and virtual machines is less attractive to Commvault customers and enterprises as Office 365 and endpoint protection. Metallic launched with products for the latter two use cases, and Bertrand said that's what Commvault should've focused its marketing message on.

"I'm thinking that they're going to see a lot more people buying in on the Office 365 point solution," Bertrand said.

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