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Commvault Hires Former Puppet Master Sanjay Mirchandani As New CEO

Commvault needs a dynamic leader with experience in modern cloud-based workloads to spread the message that it is the only company ready to meet future requirements for data management, and Mirchandani is the right choice, a top Commvault partner said.

Commvault on Tuesday took its long-expected leadership transition into its final stage with the appointment of former Puppet CEO Sanjay Mirchandani as its new president and CEO.

Effective Tuesday, Mirchandani is taking over the reins at Commvault from Bob Hammer, who has been hinting for some time that he is getting ready to retire and who last week said during the company's third fiscal quarter 2019 conference call that it would be his last.

Al Bunte, Commvault chief operating officer and a colleague of Hammer's for over 20 years, is also retiring.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Commvault CEO Hammer On CEO Succession, Regaining Mindshare, And Increasing Competition]

Discussions around Hammer stepping down from Commvault after 20-plus years became serious in April 2018 after hedge fund Elliott Management disclosed that it had acquired a 10.3-percent stake in Commvault. Elliott Management at the time wrote in a letter to Commvault management expressing frustration at the company's profit margins, called for more capital to be returned to investors, and called for a review of Commvault's management.

Mirchandani joins Commvault from software maker Puppet, where he served as CEO for nearly three years. Prior to that, he spent over two years heading VMware's operations in the Asia Pacific and Japan areas. He also spent over 7 years at EMC, over half of which serving as that company's chief information officer.

Portland, Oregon-based Puppet last week named Yvonne Wassenaar as its next CEO.

During his time as Puppet CEO, Mirchandani oversaw the closing of new funding to the tune of $42 million, acquired two companies, and opened five new international offices, Puppet said.

Mirchandani's experience as CEO of Puppet is just the kind of experience Commvault needs, said Glenn Dekhayser, field chief technology officer at Red8, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based solution provider and Commvault channel partner.

"That experience is not just any CEO experience," Dekhayser told CRN. "It's new economy experience. Cloud, devops. He really understands that world."

One of Mirchandani's most important jobs will be to help businesses and investors understand the true value Commvault, which is the leading developer of data protection and data management software for modern workloads but has not had the marketing buzz its smaller competitors have had, Dekhayser said.

"Over the next five to seven years, all new workloads will be different from traditional workloads," he said. "Everything will be in containers, and will have to be managed in new ways. Commvault is already there, backing up containers in Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. But no one knows it."

Instead, the buzz has been focused on younger startups, Dekhayser said. "All these young upstarts make a lot of marketing noise," he said. "But Commvault is already in its third or fourth release."

Dekhayser said a solution provider could easily walk into a large enterprise and see hardware and software from EMC, Hitachi, NetApp, and Cisco on the floor, the data of which all needs to be managed, with Commvault being the key to unifying the management.

"Snap management is a must to understand the data and get the data on the right media including tape," he said. "And enterprises really want snap management. Who else out there can manage all that? Only Commvault with a single code base. All the other vendors say 'me, too,' but do it with custom scripts and unnatural acts."

Having Mirchandani out in front and waving the Commvault flag will be a huge boost to the future of the vendor, Dekhayser said.

"He was not only the CIO of EMC, which is a doer and not a seller job, he was the CEO of Puppet," he said. "Sanjay's going to have his hand in everything. And he's going to change the culture there, and bring in a more dynamic organization."

Hammer, who has been with Commvault for over 20 years, in April plans to step down as the company's chairman and remain on the board as chairman emeritus. Nick Adamo, a current member of Commvault's board of directors, will at that time take over as chairman.

Both Hammer and Bunte are expected to remain with Commvault through a transition period, with Hammer planning to end his transition work on March 31.

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