DataDirect Networks keeps expanding by acquisition. The high-performance computing storage specialist this week made its third acquisition in the past year, picking up software-defined storage vendor Nexenta.
DDN bought hybrid flash vendor Tintri out of bankruptcy last summer. The Tintri deal followed the pickup of the Lustre filesystem and customer base from Intel. DDN has long used Lustre as the foundation of its ExaScaler and GridScaler arrays.
Kurt Kuckein, a DDN senior director of marketing, said the vendor will rationalize the various file systems down the road, but the near-term plan is to target each one to specific data workloads.
Kuckein said DDN storage will remain focused on AI and big data customers seeking scalable high performance. Tintri by DDN is intended for storage analytics to boost virtualized applications.
“Nexenta by DDN will deliver software-defined, hardware-agnostic file, block and object services for enterprises and telcos,” including 5G– and internet of things-related applications, Kuckein said.
DDN did not disclose the purchase price of Nexenta.
Nexenta was an early player in software-defined storage. Since launching in 2005, Nexenta has raised more than $100 million from private investors, including a $20 million round from Tokyo-based Softbank in 2017.
DDN storage will gain 3,000 Nexenta customers and more than 2,000 petabytes of new storage capacity under management, the vendors said.
Nexenta’s NexentaStor software supports unified block and file storage on bare metal or in a virtual storage appliance. NexentaEdge object storage platform handles Amazon S3 and Swift clusters with built-in erasure coding.
Nexenta has server OEM deals with Cisco, Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Lenovo. Existing reseller partnerships will remain intact, Kuckein said.
The addition of NexentaStor will give DDN ready-made file storage in the public cloud. The NexentaCloud product delivers enterprise NAS storage services through integration in Amazon Web Services.
As with Tintri, Nexenta will operate as a separate DDN engineering division, “but with an accelerated roadmap and a better framework for development and support,” Kuckein said. Nexenta CEO Tarkan Maner will lead the Nexenta by DDN storage division.
Cisco and Dell Technologies may be rivals in the server business, but when it comes to converged infrastructure, the two vendors remain strong partners.
Cisco, EMC and VMware in 2009 formed VCE, a joint venture that ushered in Vblock era of converged infrastructure. A lot has changed since in the intervening 10 years. VCE is gone. EMC and VMware are now subsidiaries of Dell. Dell EMC VxBlock 1000 is the new branding for the former Vblock product.
But the VxBlock 1000 joint venture will continue for the foreseeable future. Cisco and Dell said they hammered out a multiyear partnership to expand development and engineering for containers and hybrid clouds.
Pete Manca, a Dell EMC senior vice president of networking, said in a blog post that Dell and Cisco plan to further align executive, product marketing and sales teams. Cisco plans to invest in “a range of training initiatives” to support the Dell EMC VxBlock flagship.
The VxBlock turnkey system integrates Dell EMC storage and data protection with Cisco Unified Compute System (UCS) servers, Cisco Nexus switching and VMware virtualization. Customers may choose any of Dell EMC’s major arrays to build VxBlock as a scale-out platform.
Converged infrastructure (CI) is sold as a preconfigured system with qualified network, server and storage hardware from different vendors. By contrast, hyper-converged infrastructure combines hardware and virtualization management in an integrated appliance.
Dell uses PowerEdge servers, EMC storage and VMware for a host of CI and HCI products, but still partners with rivals such as Cisco and HCI pioneer Nutanix. In addition to VxBlock converged infrastructure, Dell EMC HCI includes VxRail and VxRack systems built with Dell PowerEdge servers and VMware vSAN storage software. Dell EMC also sells the XC Series HCI under an OEM deal with Nutanix.
Cisco has other storage partners for CI besides Dell EMC. IBM VersaStack, NetApp FlexPod and Pure Storage FlashStack converged systems also combine Cisco UCS compute with storage arrays. The networking vendor also sells a branded Cisco HyperFlex HCI platform.
Carbonite will end support for the free edition of Mozy’s consumer product on Monday. The cloud data protection heavyweight would like to convert remaining Mozy customers onto its own infrastructure but as of now continues to support Mozy’s other editions.
Carbonite acquired Mozy, one of its oldest cloud backup competitors, in March 2018 from a Dell Technologies subsidiary for $145.8 million.
Carbonite has told MozyHome Free customers that when that support ends on April 15, customer backups will be deleted, according to Norman Guadagno, Carbonite’s senior vice president of marketing. Those Mozy backup customers must restore files before April 15.
The MozyHome Free account provided up to 2 GB of data storage. Carbonite does not have a free version of its data protection suite, but does offer consumer protection.
Mozy backup included three major paid products: MozyEnterprise for enterprises, MozyPro for smaller businesses and MozyHome for consumers. The end of support for MozyHome Free does not affect paying MozyHome subscribers. Carbonite will also continue to support existing MozyEnterprise and MozyPro customers. As a result of the acquisition, Mozy customers are technically Carbonite customers.
“Paying Mozy subscribers can continue to use Mozy to back up their endpoints and servers and Carbonite continues to offer an upgrade path to equivalent Carbonite offerings,” Guadagno wrote in an email.
Carbonite’s ongoing goal is to upgrade Mozy backup customers to the “more modern, powerful Carbonite Data Protection Platform,” Guadagno wrote.
“Ultimately, everything that was once branded Mozy will be branded Carbonite.”
Carbonite expects most legacy Mozy customers to upgrade to Carbonite infrastructure.
Carbonite continues evolution
Both Carbonite and Mozy originally focused on selling to consumers and later shifted to a business focus, while still offering a consumer product.
The Mozy backup acquisition was largely a play to add customers. At the time of the acquisition, Mozy had about 100,000 consumer customers and 35,000 business subscribers.
Carbonite has upgraded about half of Mozy consumer customers to Carbonite’s infrastructure, according to Guadagno.
“[We] are pleased with our upgrade pace,” he wrote.
About 70% of Mozy employees are now part of Carbonite, Guadagno said.
Boston-based Carbonite has been building a data protection portfolio that includes backup, disaster recovery, high availability and migration tools. It has been busy with acquisitions in recent years, including a blockbuster to buy Webroot cybersecurity for $618.5 million, which closed in March.
Carbonite has been integrating technology from its acquisitions, CEO Mohamad Ali said on Carbonite’s earnings call last year around the time of the Mozy backup acquisition.
“Our integration plan is to similarly take the best of Mozy, and Mozy has some very interesting pieces of technology that can make that platform even stronger,” Ali said.
Guadagno said this week that although the Mozy technology itself has not been integrated into the Carbonite data protection platform, Carbonite has identified many features and other innovations from Mozy and added them to the product roadmap. He could not elaborate on roadmap specifics.
Ali noted last year that Mozy was the first company he wanted to acquire when he started as CEO four years ago.
“As we leverage the much, much more efficient Carbonite cloud infrastructure and effectively migrate the Mozy infrastructure onto our infrastructure, we expect to drive tremendous profitability and that’s something we’ve done before,” Ali said at the time.
While Google made a big deal of working with open source software companies at its Google Cloud Next Conference, it also has been lining up data protection partners.
Secondary storage management vendor Cohesity, copy data management ace Actifio and HYCU all launched or expanded Google Cloud Platform (GCP) data protection services. Cohesity Cloud Backup Service, Actifio GO for Google Cloud Platform and HYCU Backup as a Service for Google Cloud Platform are all available on GCP Marketplace.
Cohesity and Actifio already partner with other public cloud providers. HYCU added data protection for Google Cloud SQL to the backup as a service it launched for Google Cloud Platform a year ago.
HYCU (pronounced Haiku) is best known for providing backup software for Nutanix because, well, it started out with Nutanix backup as its only product. HYCU CEO Simon Taylor said HYCU has more than 1,000 customers for its software and its Nutanix business is strong, but partnered with Google after Google approached his company about developing GCP data protection.
“When we first started this, people were confused – ‘So maybe you’ve re-routed things, or you’re using GCP as a target or found a way to back up from Google to Nutanix, or Nutanix to Google,’” Taylor said. “The way to think about this is, we built the first purpose-built backup and recovery app for Nutanix … and then we launched purpose-built backup and recovery as a service for Google Cloud. It’s an independent service available from Google Market place.”
Google Cloud SQL is used largely by developers but Taylor said interest in using HYCU for Google goes beyond DevOps. He said Broadcom was HYCU’s first customer for Google backup to protect 4 PB of data.
“A lot of people said ‘Isn’t GCP just for DevOps?’” Taylor said. “But it’s really the large enterprises, it’s these big resellers of GCP buying from us, saying ‘In order for us to go all or even heavily in with Google Cloud, we’ve got to have the kind of backup support that our IT department expects.’”
Price is based on total data under protection and how often it is backed up.
Actifio GO on GCP provides copy data management on GCP by using its Sky technology to move changed data onto GCP. Actifio GO launched in February, 2019, as a SaaS platform that supports AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM and Wasabi public clouds along with GCP. GO is now available through the Google Marketplace.
Startup Excelero snared Lenovo as its first major server partner to resell its software that can pool ultra-fast NVMe-based storage resources across a network.
Lenovo has added Excelero’s NVMesh software to its price book. Lenovo and Excelero said SciNet, Canada’s largest supercomputing center, and at least one other company is already running NVMesh deployments on Lenovo ThinkSystem servers.
Excelero has worked with other server OEMs, such as Supermicro, to resell its software through one-off transactions, according to Patrick Guay, Excelero’s vice president of strategic accounts. But until the Lenovo deal, the Excelero software was not loaded in a price book for an OEM or its partners to sell on an ongoing basis, Guay said.
Despite the partnership with Lenovo, Excelero customers will not yet be able to purchase the NVMesh software pre-integrated onto Lenovo server hardware. John Majeski, general manager of software solutions for Lenovo’s data center group, said the company is considering that option. In the meantime, Lenovo can custom integrate the Excelero technologies for customers.
Lenovo customers now have two storage options in the non-volatile memory express (NVMe) technology space, following the server vendor’s partnership with NetApp signed last year. IDC research vice president Eric Burgener said Lenovo-branded NetApp systems would address mixed workloads while Excelero NVMesh-based systems running on standard Lenovo server hardware, would target ultra-low latency workloads such as big data analytics.
The NVMesh software can run in converged or disaggregated modes. In converged mode, the applications run on the same server as the NVMe-based PCIe Express (PCIe) solid-state drives (SSDs). In disaggregated mode, clients access discrete storage servers loaded with NVMe SSDs.
Excelero also has a partnership with Micron, which sells Micron Accelerated Solutions (MAS) for Excelero NVMesh.
Burgener said many IT organizations are wary of buying product from startups, so the Lenovo partnership could provide an opportunity for them to acquire innovative technology they might not consider if they have to go through a startup. He said, while many users understand the efficiency of buying through only a few major vendors, they also sometimes feel constrained by the limited options.
“There’s less risk associated with buying it through Lenovo than if they deal directly with the startup,” he said.
After closing its largest acquisition, Carbonite said it will emphasize, at least initially, a “do-no-harm” method in the integration efforts.
In a deal that closed March 26, the backup and recovery vendor acquired cybersecurity firm Webroot for $618.5 million in cash. Norman Guadagno, Carbonite’s senior vice president of marketing, said both Carbonite and Webroot are successful and the early plan involves patience as they develop the product strategy.
“We don’t want to do anything to stop the momentum,” Guadagno said.
From a product standpoint, Carbonite and Webroot face a common threat of ransomware. High profile attacks continue to hit businesses, including a recent attack of the Tribune Publishing Company. Guadagno said customers need to be aware of other threats as well, such as state-sponsored attacks.
“I believe it will get worse before it gets better, if it ever gets better,” Guadagno said. “You have to take a comprehensive approach to protecting your data.”
That approach includes preparing for threats that get through.
The combination of backup and recovery with cybersecurity is a good play against ransomware, especially as it relates to the target of endpoints, said Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. Security-wise, threats come in through endpoints, and endpoint backup and recovery is important as well.
“You’re solving two of the biggest problems that have domino effects,” Bertrand said.
Many data protection vendors include cybersecurity features in their backup products. However, Bertrand said, Webroot’s integration with Carbonite offers a greater depth level of cybersecurity.
While there is work to be done on the integration, Bertrand said keeping the businesses separate is a smart approach for now to maintain order. Then the actual execution of the integration is a key element.
Long term, Bertrand said the reuse of data could be a focus for Carbonite, which currently offers cloud-based products in backup, recovery, high availability and data migration, and sells to businesses through channel partners. He said he’s curious to see where the company will evolve in areas of data intelligence — compliance, archiving and beyond — to optimize data use.
Carbonite expands through acquisitions
Carbonite has been busy with acquisitions in the last few years, including the purchase of Mozy, one of its oldest cloud backup competitors. The Webroot deal is by far the biggest for which it has disclosed the price.
Guadagno said Carbonite does not comment on possible future acquisitions. The company is focused on making the Webroot acquisition succeed, communicating effectively with partners and achieving quarterly goals.
“I think the biggest challenge we have is to really be patient,” Guadagno said. “We’re really focusing on this do-no-harm model.”
Webroot retains sales model, channel
Webroot is functioning as a self-contained business unit inside Carbonite run by John Post, formerly Webroot’s CFO. As senior vice president and general manager, Post reports to Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali.
Webroot CEO Mike Potts will leave Carbonite in a few months after a transition period, Guadagno said. He said there will be few other changes in the roles of Carbonite and Webroot employees, which now number around 1,600. Carbonite is based in Boston and Webroot will retain its headquarters in Broomfield, Colo.
When Carbonite and Webroot announced the acquisition in February, Potts said it made sense and that the workforce was excited.
“We may be able to put an end to ransomware,” if the deal can combine business continuity and endpoint security succinctly, Potts boldly predicted at the time.
“It’s a 1-2 punch against the bad guys,” Guadagno said.
Webroot, which is also cloud-based and offers network and endpoint protection, security awareness training and threat intelligence services, will continue to sell products through its channel and directly. There will be no immediate pricing changes.
RackTop Systems has racked up its first round of outside capital, six years after launching its “cyber-converged” BrickStor NAS appliances. The Fulton, Md.-based vendor received $15 million in a Series A round to fund a storage product that focuses on security for large capacities of data.
“We started shipping product in 2012 and have grown our customer base organically. This is our first institutional round, but we’re on the third generation of our product. We look at this as more of a growth round” for product enhancements, Bednash said.
Bednash said the vendor plans to use the funding to address enterprise multi-cloud environments, particularly in response to increasingly virulent viruses and ransomware.
BrickStor is unified hybrid storage that stratifies data on DRAM, disk and flash. The DRAM layer services most I/O requests. Data can be moved transparently to S3-compatible clouds using the RackTop MyRack Manager operating software. Built-in security features include behavioral audits, multiple encryption keys and “always on” alerts for exfiltration and ransomware.
Although it lacks the exposure and marketing muscle of larger NAS players, RackTop Systems claims BrickStor has experienced some success as a drop-in replacement for older NetApp and EMC Isilon NAS arrays.
The new funding will help expand engineering and sales teams, Bednash said. He said storage hardware will remain the flagship, but RackTop Systems plans to add software, including a virtual NAS for cloud-only customers and hyper-converged environments needing scalable file storage. Those software-based options are in development and not expected to be available for at least two years, he said.
Razor’s Edge Ventures and Grotech Ventures led the funding round, with participation from Blu Venture Investors, Gula Tech Adventures and Maryland Venture Fund.
Converged secondary data vendor Rubrik is the latest storage vendor to jump on the cloud-like pricing bandwagon.
Rubrik today said it is adding a subscription pricing model, called Rubrik Go. Go is a three-year subscription that covers software, support and hardware – including refreshes – for data managed on-premises and in public clouds. Customers will pay on a per appliance basis, but licenses can be moved across hardware and clouds. All software and hardware upgrades are included in the three-year subscription.
Rubrik will offer new customers a choice between Go evergreen pricing and traditional perpetual licensing. There will be two versions of Go. Rubrik Go Foundation for cloud backup, recovery and cloud archiving is available now. It includes Rubrik Cloud Data Management software for backup, replication, analytics, copy data management and search as well as CloudOut cloud archiving and Polaris SaaS management.
A Rubrik Go Premium edition will follow later this year with more applications and a higher subscription price.
Rubrik sells its data protection and management software on branded appliances, and channel partners bundle the software on third-party hardware. Rubrik has qualified its software to run on Dell EMC, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Cisco servers, and it runs in AWS and Microsoft Azure clouds.
Jenn Wei, product marketing director for Rubrik, said the vendor came up with Go pricing after surveying customers. “The majority were looking for something different,” she said. “They’re frustrated with licensing. Tech refreshes become expensive. They want automatic access to technology and free upgrades.”
Wei said customers who choose Go pricing will likely pay the same initial price as those who pick perpetual licensing, but refreshes will cost less with subscription licensing.
Rob Owen, chief architect at Rubrik channel partner Computer Design & Integration (CDI), said he welcomes Go evergreen pricing.
“Rubrik is embracing where the industry is going,” Owen said. “Historically with IT infrastructure, most of the complaints are that every three to five years manufacturers come knocking on your door looking for the next deal. And most companies would not give you credit for the software that runs on the hardware. You have to re-buy the software stack on that infrastructure.”
IT companies have been changing their pricing model to mimic the way public cloud services offer storage and compute. Server vendor Lenovo and software-defined storage startup Datrium unveiled pricing new models in recent weeks, but Rubrik Go is most similar to the Pure Storage Evergreen program the flash array vendor adopted in 2017. Pure’s Evergreen Storage includes software and hardware refreshes in its licensing, forging a storage-as-a-service process that makes it an opex rather than capex model.
CDI also sells Pure Storage, and Owen said Pure Evergreen has been popular with his customers.
“Pure leverages commodity hardware the same as Rubrik does,” he said. “The bundled software is the real value. You pay an annuitized fee versus a one-time thing where you only own the software on the hardware you just bought.”
Owen said subscription evergreen pricing would be a better option for almost all IT consumers, with few exceptions where capex makes more sense. “There’s an odd financial model where it won’t make sense, depending on how long you’re going to own a set of equipment,” he said. “If you’re willing to push depreciation of equipment for a long time – typically more than five years – it makes sense to buy maintenance up front with perpetual licensing.”
Vexata is thinking outside the box.
The NVMe all-flash array vendor is sampling VX-Cloud Data Acceleration Platform reference architecture with major server vendors. The hardware design combines the Vexata VX-OS storage operating system on standard hardware platforms. General availability is expected later this year.
The Vexata flagship storage product is the VX-100 Scalable NVMe Flash Array VX-OS orchestration creates a separation layer between the control plane and data plane to allow parallel access between SSDs.
For VX-Cloud, Vexata modified the VX-OS software to run on Xilinx field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) embedded on controllers. The product is designed to appeal to enterprises, hyper-scale data centers and managed cloud providers.
The FPGA hardware accelerates clones, encryption, and other data services. Vexata claims VX-Cloud server-side flash performance equivalent to its branded arrays.
“Right now, our software runs only inside our VX-100 hardware clients. We made some enhancements to allow it to run on FPGAs inside standard servers to accelerate IO. We can give very good performance using standard servers,” ” said Rick Walsworth, Vexata’s vice president of product and solutions marketing.
VX-Cloud systems are in direct availability with server partners. Early design wins include Fujitsu Primergy and Supermicro BigTwin servers. Fujitsu and Vexata in January forged a partnership to sell targeted NVMe AI storage for Oracle, SAP and VMware. Walsworth said
The NVMe transport allows devices to access flash storage across a PCIe bus. Industry observers expect NVMe storage to gradually replace the older SCSI protocol for message commands between a host and storage.
Vexata is jockeying with fellow NVMe hardware startups Apeiron Data Systems, E8 Storage and Pavilion Data. Those vendors sell storage systems that exclusively used NVMe U.2 SSDs, all based on white-box servers. Another startup, Excelero, provides a software-defined NVMe mesh that virtualizes NVMe block devices as a pooled resource.
Major vendors Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Nimble Storage, IBM, NetApp and Pure Storage are shipping all-flash arrays that support both NVMe media and traditional SAS and SATA SSDs.
Walsworth said VX-Cloud systems allow a data center to scale block and file storage across multiple racks. Licensing will be based on consumed storage under management. “We are trying to move more towards an open systems model where customers can provide their own hardware to run our software on top of it.”
Axcient’s new CEO started this week at a company that has the same name as it did at its beginning but looks quite different after a recent merger.
David Bennett, formerly the chief revenue officer at cybersecurity firm Webroot, began his job as Axcient CEO on Monday.
In 2017, Axcient merged with eFolder, bringing together Axcient’s cloud-based disaster recovery and data protection platform and eFolder’s cloud business continuity, cloud file sync and cloud-to-cloud backup. After existing as Axcient-eFolder for a while, the company is now called Axcient.
Axcient’s Business Availability Suite includes backup, business continuity, recovery and cloud migration. The vendor sells its products through managed service providers (MSPs).
Over a 10-year period, Bennett had a number of leadership roles at Webroot, which was acquired by data protection vendor Carbonite in February. He also held leadership positions at Lenovo and Sony.
“It’s a natural progression,” Bennett said of going from Webroot to Axcient CEO.
Axcient has made security a focus, which is important as Bennett noted that hackers often target service providers that serve multiple businesses versus attacking just one SMB.
“It’s not a matter of if, it’s when,” the Axcient CEO said of the possibility of being hit with a cyberattack.
Other trends in Axcient’s market include customers transitioning from on-premises Microsoft applications to the cloud-based Office 365, as well as striving for compliance in an increasingly complicated regulatory environment, said CMO Angus Robertson.
‘Not the old Axcient’
Though they existed in the same general market, Axcient and eFolder had different technologies, platforms and customer bases. The eFolder line of products, including backup and disaster recovery platform Replibit, was geared toward SMBs. Axcient was a pioneer of disaster recovery as a service and had a more midmarket reach, but also hit SMBs and the enterprise.
Robertson said the company is focused on combining the best of both and what it’s calling “business availability,” all backed by the Axcient Cloud.
“We’re not the old Axcient,” said President Eric White. “It is a new company.”
The internal transitioning started in late 2017, White said. That process included a re-commitment to the channel. Axcient now claims about 3,000 MSPs.
Bennett replaced Matt Nachtrab, who left the CEO post in 2018. In November, the company rebranded from Axcient-eFolder to Axcient. The company is based in Denver, where eFolder had its headquarters. Axcient was previously based in California.
“We are a profitable organization now because of the work we did in 2018,” White said.
Future rollouts include the launch of a “business availability” portal as one place to access all Axcient products, as well as enhanced features in Axcient’s cloud, including multi-tenancy and faster recovery time.