Quest Software Focuses On Data Protection Channel

Quest Software is building on acquisitions and the hiring of a couple of key executives to build a channel-only strategy for its data protection software and integrate it with the channel programs for the company's entire product line.

The result of integrating the product lines and channel programs of Quest's acquisitions of Vizioncore and BakBone will be shown to the company's solution providers this week at Quest's first-ever channel partner conference, said Walter Angerer, senior vice president and general manager for the company's data protection business.

"I'm spending a lot of time engaging with the channel," said Angerer. "My vision is to be channel-driven. To be successful, we need to get the channel fired up, and make sure we can support our partners."

For many solution providers, Quest's channel partner conference, held this week in Data Point, Calif., will be their first opportunity to see big changes in both the company's data protection and channel team as well as its data protection product line.

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Those changes have been some time coming.

Quest in early 2008 acquired Vizioncore, a provider of disaster recovery and other products for virtual infrastructure management. Its primary product, and until recently Quest's primary data protection offering, is vRanger, which provides a comprehensive data protection platform for VMware virtualized environments.

Quest followed that up with the acquisition late last year of data protection software vendor BakBone, which gave the company a backup and recovery offering for traditional infrastructures to go with vRanger.

Tying that all together was the hiring this summer of Angerer, a former executive of Veritas and Symantec who worked on the NetBackup data protection software while at Veritas and later led Symantec's push to develop a hardware appliance business.

Angerer is working on Quest's data protection channel expansion with Michael Sotnick, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances, a former Veritas channel chief who joined Quest in mid-2010.

The migration of Quest executives has not been a one-way street.

Virtualization upstart Liquidware Labs in August said it had hired away three executives from Quest, all of whom came to that company through Quest's 2008 acquisition of server virtualization startup Vizioncore. The three included Chris Akerberg, former vice president of global sales for server virtualization; David Feathergill, former chief architect; and Grace Krokidas, a former Quest marketing executive.

Quest and Angerer had a lot of work to do to reshape BakBone, which was suffering both in financial and channel terms, as the center of its data protection strategy.

Before being acquired by Quest, BakBone had been hit by a couple of bad financial decisions and was finding it difficult to recover, Angerer said.

"BakBone also didn't have any experience with virtualization," he said. "And there was back and forth between focusing on channel partners, then direct, then on channel partners."

That has changed with Quest, Angerer said. The company's data protection business is 100 percent through channel partners, compared to about 40 percent for the company's overall business, he said.

The goal going forward is to combine integrate the products and channels of its vRanger and BakBone NetVault offerings, he said.

vRanger remained a separate, stand-alone business until late 2010 and through the acquisition of BakBone, Angerer said. "That was the time when Quest decided to really get into data protection, and not just focus on the virtualization side," he said.

Next: Bringing Virtualization, Data Protection Technology And Channels Together

BakBone, meanwhile, brought Quest a complete data protection offering that worked in heterogeneous environments and included such capabilities as continuous data protection, deduplication, and instant bare-metal recovery in case of a failure. "So a Microsoft Exchange Server could be brought back on-line within 30 seconds," he said.

Quest was also able to add to its data protection technology mix its LiteSpeed and Recovery Manager, two products focused on protecting database data, Angerer said.

"My plan is to continue with our data protection technology to provide the ability to bring databases back up within an hour or less," he said. "I don't think there's any company out there that has the database experience Quest has. I believe we'll be well positioned to capture this part of the market."

For Quest, the good news is that those legacy BakBone channel partners who stuck with the company through its issue are accepting the other Quest technologies, Angerer said.

"Obviously, they have a lot of anecdotes about working with BakBone, but they're willing to give us a chance," he said. "Those who are left are the core of the BakBone channel program. If they didn't like the technology, they wouldn't have stayed with BakBone."

Quest finished the integration of the Quest and vRanger data protection channels this Summer, and is now looking at events such as this week's channel partner meeting to energize its solution providers, Angerer said.

"My goals are to introduce vRanger to BakBone legacy partners and make sure they know about the virtualization opportunities, and to engage with partners who understand the entire portfolio," he said.

While this week's Quest partner conference features the company's entire product line, Angerer said he is working with Sotnick to develop other programs for partners including a partner conference devoted specifically to data protection.

Sotnick said Quest's solution providers, including those from BakBone, are currently migrating to the company's new Quest Partner Circle program.

"Going forward, partners will see upbeat execution from Quest," he said. "They'll see more integration of data protection technologies. We're committed to growth, both through mergers and acquisitions and organically, and partners will see moves from us in both."

BakBone had a very inconsistent relationship with channel partners in the past, but Quest is working to ensure partners that it is committed to the channel, Sotnick said.

"Make no mistake," he said. "You know my background (with Veritas). We know that success in data protection depends on partners. We're committed to working with partners who work with us, who are committed to us."