Quest Uses Partner Conference To Highlight Data Protection Opportunities

Quest Software is in the process of integrating its data protection applications into a single platform that offers backup and recovery of both physical and virtualized infrastructure for customers ranging from small businesses to enterprises.

That's the message the company this week brought to Dana Point, Calif., as part of its fourth annual partner conference, which also happens to be its first to include a storage-focused track.

Having a complete data protection offering that can compete against those of more established vendors such as Symantec or Commvault is important because of the way in which the business is changing, said Walter Angerer, senior vice president and general manager for Quest's data protection business.

Angerer, citing analyst firm Gartner statistics, said that an estimated 30 percent of customers will change backup vendors by 2014.

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"That's $1.5 billion of money changing hands," he said. "That's where you come in."

Gartner also estimates that, by 2015, about 10 percent of large enterprises will give up their traditional backup and recovery software altogether and focus on using snapshot and replication technologies, which gives the channel even more incentive to explore alternatives to traditional offerings, Angerer said.

The heart of Quest's data protection stems from two acquisitions.

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, developer of the NetVault backup and recovery offering for physical IT infrastructures.

Quest used its partner conference to unveil plans to add features of its two primary data protection applications to the other, with the eventual goal of offering a data protection platform that works in all customer situations.

Quest plans to add physical storage backup capabilities to its vRanger offering in the first half of 2012, said John Maxwell, vice president of product management for the vendor.

"Our vRanger customers have been asking for physical tape support and fatures like dedupe," Maxwell said. "We have BakBone NetVault customers with a half petabyte of deduped storage. We can bring that technology to vRanger where the average customer maybe backs up 5 TBs, but where they have virtualized an average of 77 percent of their infrastructurel."

Unlike most competitors, Quest has a strategy to expand a single data protection platform from small businesses to the largest enterprises, Maxwell said.

The majority of solutions in the market have been around for up to 30 years, Maxwell said, citing such examples as Symantec's Backup Exec and NetBackup, along with offerings from CA and CommVault. "We're going squarely after Backup Exec and NetBackup," he said. "They're old."

Maxwell said that Quest is uniquely positioned to develop a data protection platform that runs the full gamet of physical and virtualized storage infrastructures.

Quest is one of only a handful of storage software vendors which have gained traction in the business of protecting virtualized servers. However, he said, one of the competitors which has received a lot of buzz, Veeam, focuses only on virtualized environments, but does not work with physical servers and storage.

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More traditional vendors, on the other hand, have focused on physical environments but not yet yet been able to offer a full range of data protection capabilities for virtualized environments, Maxwell said.

"We believe people want a solution for physical and virtualized environments," he said. "We know people don't want to abandon their legacy technologies, including tape. In a survey of our 40,000 customers, we found that tape is still within the top seven top requirements."

Nigel Wright, director of enterprise solutions sales for Abtech Systems, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based solution provider, said his company was a long-time BakBone partner before that company was acquired by Quest.

Quest has done a great job of not only continuing to develop the BakBone NetVault offering, but also making it a consistently channel-friendly product, Wright said.

"Quest has done a pretty good job with NetVault," he said. "In the past, we've had the experience of a smaller vendor getting swallowed by a larger vendor and then watching major changes happen or even who product lines disappear."

Quest has done things differently, Wright said. "They've kept the product," he said. "A lot of BakBone guys are still there. And a lot of Quest guys are interested in us as a partner."

Quest has done a good job of using this week's partner confernece to answer a lot of partner questions about its data protection strategy and to show how far it has come in terms of how it works with the channel, Wright said.

"Quest in the past was more of a direct vendor," he said. "But we're seeing the company show interest in the channel. We're seeing Quest's different organizations align towards the channel. And we're seeing a lot of investment in this conference."