Veritas Criticizes Competitors--Including Dell/EMC, Nutanix and SimpliVity--As Unfit To Help Customers With Digital Transformation

Veritas Technologies on Tuesday went on the offensive against a wide range of storage competitors, from EMC to SimpliVity, saying those vendors stand in the way of the kind of digital transformation that customers need -- and some are already undertaking.

Veritas executives told customer and channel partner attendees at this week's Veritas Vision conference that the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is the only company that can help with that transition given that it is the only software-only storage vendor with the enterprise experience to do so.

The comments came after Veritas unveiled a new information platform it said would make it easy for customers to protect and manage their data with full compliance with company policies.

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[Related: First Veritas Vision Confab Since 2004 Highlights New Info Management Platform, Red Hat Partnership]

Veritas executives were especially critical of Dell and EMC. Indeed, Veritas on Tuesday took out a full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal (see photo) with the headline, "There's a special place in Dell reserved for hardware."

Mike Palmer, Veritas' senior vice president and general manager of solutions for data insight and orchestration, said during his Veritas Vision keynote address Tuesday that companies like EMC and Dell used their market clout to sell a lot of storage hardware, but then realized they needed to move to software to meet future needs.

EMC realized it couldn't "sustain this over the long term. … So they bought a software company, VMware," he said.

Palmer said customers have rejected EMC's VMware vCloud cloud technology, and then -- in a particularly harsh analogy -- compared EMC to notorious convicted Los Angeles drug trafficker and current T-shirt retailer "Freeway" Rick Ross. "This is a guy that knew more about product lock-in than anyone. … He bought houses to store his cash," Palmer said.

EMC, like Rick Ross, suffered for its mistakes, Palmer said. "Rick Ross went to jail," he said. "Today, he sells T-shirts. EMC went to Hell, I mean to Dell."

Palmer also chided EMC for selling its Data Domain de-duplication storage hardware as a way to lock customers into EMC, saying that for customers it's like a 30-year-old kid living in the basement. "He's never moving out," he said.

One place where customers have been looking for a way to move beyond legacy storage technology is in hyper-converged infrastructure startups like San Jose, Calif.-based Nutanix and Westborough, Mass.-based SimpliVity, Palmer said.

Palmer asked why anyone would want to put in another box that doesn't work with existing storage infrastructure, noting that while Nutanix and SimpliVity offer simple scalability, they are costly systems without the kind of resilience that enterprises require.

For resilience, Nutanix and SimpliVity nodes must handle both primary and secondary workloads, Palmer said. "This creates noisy neighbors," he said.

Jesse St. Laurent, vice president of product strategy at SimpliVity, begged to differ with Palmer. In a statement sent to CRN, St. Laurent wrote: ’Simplicity is a key element of hyper-converged infrastructure, and we believe that SimpliVity provides the most complete solution based on the customer's choice of x86 server, with guarantees including 10x data efficiency and one minute to backup or restore a [virtual machine].’

Dell Technologies (which now owns EMC) and Nutanix spokespeople had yet to respond to Palmer's comments by press time.

Veritas CEO Bill Coleman told CRN before the Palmer keynote that there are only three incumbent vendors with enough presence in the enterprise to be able to lead customers toward the digital transformation they need.

However, he said, of those three -- Veritas, EMC, and IBM -- only his company has the software-only focus to succeed. Other smaller competitors such as Baar, Switzerland-based Veeam and Tinton Falls, N.J.-based Commvault do not have the enterprise presence to help with that transformation, he said.

While Dell and EMC claim to be software vendors, they still depend heavily on hardware for both profits and for 70 to 80 percent of their revenue, and that dependence will not lessen even with Dell's acquisition of EMC that closed last week, Coleman said.

"So you think [Dell CEO] Michael Dell is going to give up 70 to 80 percent of EMC's revenue when he has to pay off $62 billion in debt?" he said. "He didn't do this for customers. He didn’t do this for employees. He did this because, even though both [companies'] markets are gonna decline, he can pay off debt faster. And the only winners there are Michael Dell and [his investment partner] Silver Lake."

Palmer had a very "eloquent" way of making his point about the competition, said David Mayer, vice president of product management at Insight, a Tempe, Ariz.-based solution provider and long-term Veritas partner who neither criticized or accepted Palmer's characterization of Dell and EMC.

"Certainly, his base analysis has some truth to it," Mayer told CRN. "Everybody comes at the problem from a different starting point. Some are going to come at it from a hardware perspective. Some are going to come at it from the network layer. I think that there's a lot of different approaches."

Mayer said that none of those approaches are necessarily wrong because each customer is unique in terms of their requirements."I think it goes back to the fact that [Veritas has] a differentiated capability based on a long history of being in this space," he said.