CRN Interview: Veritas Software CEO Gary Bloom

Flush with continued success and convinced that rivals are pursuing flawed strategies, Veritas CEO Gary Bloom rolled into Las Vegas for the company's annual technology and partner conference. In an interview with Editor In Chief Michael Vizard and Senior Editor Joseph F. Kovar, Bloom differentiated Veritas from rivals such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, EMC and Computer Associates International.

CRN: As you size up Veritas' ability to compete with much larger rivals in the distributed system software space, what differentiates your company?

BLOOM: I think the biggest differentiator is that our strategy is designed in the eyes of the IT manager. CIOs are not looking for a one-size-fits-all solution. They are looking for building blocks. They are looking for a way to not buy the latest trend, but rather to evolve to the latest trend in computing. IBM and HP are both handicapped by two agendas. One is a hardware agenda that makes it inherently difficult for them to make a heterogeneous offering to customers. And then they both have a services agenda. They want to make a living out of services. We're investing in services, but we think of it as an enabler for the products that we sell. We don't carry a hardware or services agenda.

Customers are tired of spending a lot of money on hardware and solutions that only work on one hardware platform. And they don't want to solve their problems by bringing in a lot of $250-an-hour consultants. We think there is going to be an alternative ecosystem that will be made up of horizontal players that don't have a full software stack. That ecosystem will get a lot of play because it is aligned with the reality of what customers have. This is why having a heterogeneous approach to utility computing is crucial and a key differentiator. There's nothing wrong with HP's or IBM's strategy for utility computing, except that it doesn't include anybody else's strategy. Our strategy is the only one that works horizontally across all systems.

CRN: You have spent a significant amount of time advocating for a lower-cost approach to multivendor utility computing. Why should the channel back Veritas' approach?

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BLOOM: The notion of utility computing is to take dollars out of the cost of infrastructure and put it back in the business. The goal of a business is not to see how fast you can grow SG&A. Customers want to focus on how to grow revenue. The goal is not to spend more money on infrastructure. The goal is to spend more money on applications. We've become a partner to the customer to lower the cost of infrastructure.

CRN: Does that mean companies in the channel should start focusing more on service-level agreements tied to utility computing models that lower the cost of infrastructure?

BLOOM: That's why, as part of our consulting practice, we've added a utility computing infrastructure practice. We're going to help people lower the cost of infrastructure and set up service-level agreements. There's absolutely a business opportunity.

CRN: Does IBM's effort to educate the market about the need for on-demand computing play to Veritas' strength?

BLOOM: It's not unusual for IBM to be the marketing engine for a new concept, with other suppliers in the industry fulfilling the idea. We take advantage of the fact that, in some ways, our strategy is endorsed by IBM. We absolutely get leverage out of the bigger players in the market.

CRN: EMC has significantly expanded its footprint in the software market. What's your take on EMC as a competitor and its information life-cycle management (ILM) strategy?

BLOOM: The parts of ILM that matter are whether the data is there for archiving and retrieval, whether it can be managed, availability, and whether it can be regulated with policies. EMC has tried to redefine the part of ILM that people care about in a separate category. ILM is an attempt to take an acquisition strategy and wrap a big bow around it. But two of the parts have no relation to ILM. Virtualizing Intel servers has nothing to do with ILM. Document management is nothing more than an application. Customers view EMC as a place to buy disks if the price is right. With ILM, EMC is trying to articulate that hardware is an asset. For a software company, hardware is a liability.

The fact that we are a pure-play software company is an asset. They are trying to put up a smoke screen that says hardware is an asset. What does a document management application have to do with how you manage for efficiency? VMware is another sign of EMC's software acquisition strategy, where they put a map of IT on a wall and throw darts at the board. ILM doesn't have anything to with virtualizing Intel machines. We think the real value of virtualization comes farther up the stack--not between the operating systems and the chips and the servers, but between the applications and the servers. Now I can understand the [EMC] Legato acquisition because it's about storage backup. But I also think they underestimated Veritas. EMC eliminated the only other independent player in the backup space. Players such as Network Appliance, HP and Sun Microsystems were left without a partner other than Veritas. EMC CEO Joe Tucci has been enormously beneficial to our business. At the time of the Legato deal, we said it would be largely beneficial to Veritas.

CRN: How big of a competitor is Computer Associates in this space?

BLOOM: We've been targeting CA from a technology and product perspective all along. Our strategy hasn't changed in that we want to go after their market share. We think it should be ours. We've been doing this quarter after quarter and year after year.

CRN: Is there any segment you think Veritas needs to bolster through acquisition?

BLOOM: There is no recipe or prescription that we're operating on. Every time we look to add something to our stack, we look at partnering to get it, we look to acquire it or we look to build it ourselves. Acquisitions, in reality, are the last resort. There are a lot of places we can go, but for what we specialize in, I believe we have all the key building blocks. There is an opportunity to make the picture bigger over time, but right now we have an $8.3 billion to $8.6 billion addressable market. We're on a path to do $2 billion, so we still have a big addressable market as it is.