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Security Roundup & Hitachi Restructure – Infrastructure Matters, Episode 40

Security Roundup & Hitachi Restructure - Infrastructure Matters, Episode 40

In this episode of Infrastructure Matters, hosts Krista Macomber and Camberley Bates cover Commvault earnings, Dell’s data protection announcement, Microsoft’s Secure Feature initiative plus why Hitachi matters.

Key topics include:

  • Commvault Earnings Discussion: Strong fiscal and quarter performance, with a 10% year-over-year revenue increase and how their shift into cyber resiliency made the difference.
  • Dell’s Innovations in Data Protection: Dell’s Data Protection Group introduced improvements with its Data Domain system and PowerProtect offerings. We cover the details and what is new.
  • Hitachi Vantara’s Organizational Changes and New Offerings: With the GA of their VSP One Platform and the new organization including engineering, Hitachi marks a strategic refocus on data infrastructure space after a period of relative silence. We talk about the relevance and what to expect.
  • Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative: As part of preparing for the RSA conference, Microsoft launches the Secure Future Initiative, which focuses on integrating security deeply into its product development processes.
  • And what to Expect from the RSA Conference: Spoiler alert: AI plus other topics including the evolving challenges for security teams.

You can watch the video of our conversation below, and be sure to visit our YouTube Channel and subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Listen to the audio here:

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this webcast. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this webcast.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Transcript:

Camberley Bates: Wow. Okay. Good morning and welcome to Infrastructure Matters. We are here in beautiful spring day, Krista Macombe and Camberley Bates. Once again, your host, Steve, is off someplace in the UK. he was over there with clients and then I think he got some time with his family, which is wonderful. We’ve got some great stuff. I think we’re going to be really focusing on a lot of the security data protection today. Next week, when this publishes, is RSA, and Krista from our team is going to be there, as well as a couple of others. Shira Rubinoff is gonna be there, I think Jeff Turner – we’ve got a crowd over there, right? And it’s actually a crazy, crazy show. Busy show, that’s what I mean, not crazy, but crazy busy show. So, let’s get into it. Krista, the first thing you had on the list was talking about Commvault earnings. Wow, you hit that out of the ballpark.

Krista Macomber: I know. I know. Exactly, exactly. So, I have some of my notes here just to refer to some of the numbers. Their revenue for the quarter. So, they discussed both their fiscal quarter that ended on March 31st, as well as their full fiscal year that also ended on March 31st. So, revenues for the quarter up 10% year-to-year to 223 million. That exceeded their guidance range. And similarly, for their full fiscal year, they also exceeded their guidance range. And that revenue grew 7% to, sounds like just under $840 million. And so, for me, what I’m really loving having the opportunity to get a bit of a front row seat here is when we think about Commvault, we think about a lot of data protection, the ability to back up and recover data.

And of course, that remains very core to Commvault’s business. But also, they really have put a stake in the ground. They did this at an event that they called SHIFT last fall, that we got to attend and cover. But they’re really broadening that into a cyber resiliency play. And we certainly are seeing that that’s helping some of those top-line numbers for sure. And when we think about even looking ahead to their coming fiscal year, they’ve announced some fairly aggressive, I would say, targets, but they have a number of tools in their belt. So, even just over the last couple of weeks they announced…

One was an acquisition of a company called Appranix that does full application stack recovery, in addition to being able to recover the data. And they also announced the availability of a clean room function, that allows customers to either test their recovery from a disaster or a cyber attack, but also, to be able to automatically execute and have a cloud environment for failover. So, that was really the first thing that jumped out to me looking at their earnings.

Camberley Bates: Wow. And just seeing they’ve really done well getting their ARR up as well. I think it was well over 25% or something like that, so that continues to grow as well as their cloud offerings. So, the second thing that is right on the backside of them, we’ve got Dell. Data Protection Group had a new announcement on the Data Domain system, as well as PowerProtect. PowerProtect Data Domain and PowerProtect Data Manager. My call-out is to Rob Emsley, as I always have said, they’ve always been challenged with the naming of these systems. So, Data Domain remains a very dominant brand. So, anyway, why don’t you talk about, not the naming, but what they actually announced?

Krista Macomber: I know. I know. It was Data Domain, then it was PowerProtect DD, now it is PowerProtect Data Domain again, which I think is smart, as you referenced, Camberley, just given just the recognition that that brand has in the marketplace, and that’s certainly not going away. Yeah, so when we look at Data Domain, I mean a couple of things to me jumped out for the announcement. Number one is we did see some advancements to backup and recovery performance. So, that’s based on the new Intel chipsets really is one thing that’s facilitating that performance. And on one hand, I did see some commentary in the news around, okay, this is your standard, what we would expect with a next generation system.

And that is true. However, the additional commentary that I would add is the backup performance, that becomes important because it helps to ensure that you have that backup copy to be able to recover from. Obviously, if you need to meet your backup windows. And as those backup windows become increasingly small these days, just because of how much we’re relying on data and our IT services. So, that’s the additional commentary I’d add on that front. And then, the performance, certainly, that’s going to become increasingly important as we try to reduce our downtime and support that business continuity, especially in the event of natural disasters, cyber attacks, things of that nature.

Camberley Bates: That wasn’t just the turnover of going to a new processor though because they did some design work with what they’re doing with compression, and the compression being on all the time in terms of that offload. So, that enables them to do that compression all the time, offload at capabilities. And also, some work that they’ve done with of the others. So, there has been some innovation in terms of… Definitely innovation on the hardware side, and what they’re doing and to get where they’re going on this. Yeah.

Krista Macomber: Certainly. Yep, yep. Absolutely, certainly. And really, when we look across the data protection portfolio for Dell, so naturally, there’s a lot of innovation there, a lot of moving parts that it brings to the table, but that Data Domain boost, as you mentioned, that compression communication technology, that’s something that I’ve seen Dell really try to strategically weave, as it can, throughout that portfolio. And I do agree, it’s an important differentiator for Dell for sure.

Camberley Bates: It’s a big differentiator in terms of performance, et cetera, and extending that right into this space. And then, the PowerProtect had a couple of key updates too as well, right?

Krista Macomber: Yep, yep. I know one thing was… So, it’s called now Dell Storage Direct Protection. And again, from a branding perspective, I have my note here. And that is the ability to be able to directly back up PowerMax arrays. So, this is something that Dell, they’ve dabbled in the past it was called Dell Storage Protect before, but they’ve really, it sounds like, re-architected it for faster performance, greater efficiency. And really, that is to be able to bring that to your direct backups of the PowerMax systems. So, I did want to touch on that because I knew there was a little confusion because some folks had a heard of this before, so that was the story from that perspective.

Camberley Bates: And that’s the power of having a portfolio. When you own both the data storage portfolio and protection portfolio, now all of a sudden you’ve got the ability to do design work within those. So, I believe this is PowerMax and PowerStore, I think that they have this capability with now?

Krista Macomber: Yep, the PowerStore was announced earlier last year, I believe, Rob Emsley said. And so, this is for the PowerMax arrays.

Camberley Bates: Okay, cool. Great. So, all in all, great announcements. And I know they’ve got some big stuff coming, probably this next year we’re going to see some more on cloud-as-a-service and that thing. So, they continue to be the big guys in the market and servicing the very large enterprises with the Data Domain especially.

Krista Macomber: Absolutely. And I think maybe the only other thing to touch on is, so for their APEX, excuse me, backup services, those are essentially based on the Druva backup-as-a-service technology. And actually, Dell has now integrating Druva AI assistant co-pilot type functionality. I believe Druva calls it Dru, but Dell is just discussing it as a generative AI capability that can do things like really maybe help less-skilled IT staff answer more sophisticated questions, for example, and really help them to maybe query the environment and streamline some of their operations. So, Dell is dabbling in this front, like a lot of data protection vendors are these days. And it’s definitely something that I would look to see not just for Dell, but really, overall, what is customer adoption like of these types of technologies. And then, also, for Dell in particular, to your point, Camberley, regarding the portfolio perspective, what might Dell’s plans be to integrate similar capabilities across other areas of the portfolio?

Camberley Bates: Yep. So, another topic I’m going to shift over to some briefings that we had this week in catching up with Hitachi. And there’s Hitachi Vantara and some big organizational changes and vision that’s going over there. So, we had an opportunity to go through the… What was announced last year is now GA essentially is their virtual storage platform, VSP for software-defined block, and then also their cloud virtual and the one file product that we have. But I think most importantly what I want to talk about is what’s happened at Hitachi. And if you didn’t see this, this was starting last year when Hitachi Vantara had been combined with this data side of the house, the data analytics, the smart city piece of it. And that now was spun off as part of a different group. And Hitachi itself, Hitachi Vantara is now entirely back focused with data storage.

And why this is so important is up until three years ago, we haven’t seen a whole lot out of them for the last three years or even more than that, actually, in terms of new items coming out, new products coming out, et cetera. And in addition to not only bringing this new product line out that we’ll be reporting on, but was the organization… So, Sheila Rohra is the CEO. She’s brought in, and I’ve already mentioned this before, the CPO, chief product officer, that came over from NetApp, Octavian. They’ve got also some other new executives that are there. Neil McGowan I think is the new CRO that’s there. All the engineering has typically been done over at Hitachi corporate in Japan. And Hitachi corporate has always managed that, developed that, done all of that. Requirements could go over there from Hitachi Vantara, but they weren’t in charge of what was actually being done and ultimately being done.

What just changed recently is that they have formed a new company over there, Hitachi Vantara Limited Japan, that is now owned by and reporting into, if you will, Hitachi Vantara LLC, which is the one here in the United States. And that’s a huge change in terms of direction and where the product is going, where the products will be going. So, we’ll be seeing some real interesting creative things coming out of the organization. And the big piece of it is this vision that they have for this one storage platform, available across the footprint, with the control plane that can control, block, cloud, and file, and object in the future. They’re rolling out pieces as they are coming out available, which is what we see now. And we’re going to be doing a much deeper dive with them a little bit later. But I wanted to highlight that because how important that is of where that is going.

Krista Macomber: And I know, Camberley, we were having a call with the team or just a conversation with the team, either yesterday or the day before, and there was a commentary around we haven’t heard much from them in the storage space for a few years now. So, as you mentioned, this is a big announcement for them. And certainly, very good to see. I think from your perspective, as we think about the next maybe year, 18 months, as they look to really refuel that business. From your perspective, what really will be maybe some of the critical investment areas or KPIs or things like that to look for?

Camberley Bates: Well, I think more of it is that we haven’t heard from them. I think they’ve been developing it because one of the things they went through with us on the call was their status with energy efficiency. You would expect that coming from a country like Japan that’s always been concerned about their resources, et cetera, and being very, very efficient with what they do. And as they rolled out, a couple of things… They are number one in the Energy Star number of IOPs per watt, which is very significant. So, if you don’t know what Energy Star is, SNIA, which is the association for the storage industry, created an energy testing and that got submitted into the Energy Star people for their analysis. And so, you can go up there and see the different data storage devices that are ranked IOPS per watt.

They are also manufacturing now in Japan. They’re not manufacturing in Foxconn. So, much like we’re seeing this trending of chips and things coming back to the United States because of the fear of the supply chain and geopolitical things, they had already moved theirs there, so they know where it’s being manufactured and they’re doing their manufacturing. So, they’ve got the control of the waste, and so they’re heavily measuring themselves already on the manufacturing of it and the waste or getting rid of the waste there, and then the recycling of the items on the other side, so they’re covering all sides of the energy and the efficiency space that’s there.

So, that’s one piece of it. They’ve always had superior performance, great performance out there. They’re continuing to do that. What they’re doing now is they are moving off their… What they had is their customized flash memory modules and going to standard SSDs. They’re going more to standard servers, so office servers versus everything being custom-built and focusing on the software stack. So, what we’re going to see them building out is this software stack, both the control plane or the data management software, as they call it, and that will be able to manage through on the cloud, on-prem, file, block, whatever, and bring those things together. So, the file side of that is what we all know knew as BlueArc and then HNAS, building that in. So, at least there is a singular management plane, not necessarily they’re going to be performant and different performance based upon the different protocol capabilities that we have.

Krista Macomber: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Camberley Bates: Yeah. So, let’s move on to the other topic that we have, which is going to be some of the security stuff that’s going to be coming out. And I think you have one that’s already out or is out today.

Krista Macomber: Yep. We have, and we have one that is going to be coming basically as we’re closing our recording here, and that is going to be coming from Microsoft. And Microsoft is actually going to be having a number of additional announcements next week at RSA as are, of course, more vendors than I could even count. So, I did want to give a little bit of a prelude here. We’re going to be recording some great content with Microsoft actually right after the show. But this announcement, I thought it was really interesting. So, Microsoft announced, they call it their Secure Future Initiative, and they announced it in the fall of last year. And this initiative from Microsoft, it sort of started out as an initiative to really make sure that key security functionalities are being baked in across the Microsoft portfolio from a product perspective at the start, which of course, that’s going to be fundamental and step one when we think about cybersecurity and cyber resiliency.

What I love that Microsoft is doing here with this announcement is that they’re also integrating their people and their processes as well into this. Again, they call it their Secure Future Initiative. So, they’re apparently going to be basing a portion of compensation of their senior leaders on progress towards some security milestones and goals. They are going to be adding what they call deputy CISOs across each of their product teams, which I thought was really interesting. And then, in addition, they’re going to be continuing to invest from an engineering perspective to, again, as I referenced, prioritize some of those security features, any remediation for patches or vulnerabilities. So, again, especially as I’m sort of heading into RSA. Of course, there’s a lot of technology, there’s a lot of buzz about which are the hottest companies or products or services to look at?

But I think it’s also really important to keep in mind that these tools are not implemented in a vacuum. They’re implemented alongside other technologies, they’re implemented alongside human beings that are going to be using and operating them at the end of the day. And then, especially as we also start to think about artificial intelligence and how we start to integrate that into our technologies and also into our daily processes, as we begin to kick off the conference, for me it was sort of a great reminder that we can’t lose sight of the other two legs of that stool, if you will, in terms of our people and our processes.

Camberley Bates: That’s actually really fascinating. They’re putting deputy CISOs in every product area. If you go back, it was always seemingly that the things that got broken into were always the Microsoft products. And it wasn’t others, and the reason why is because if you hit Microsoft, you hit 99% of the world. So, the bigger it is, and they weren’t always known as probably the most button-downed software that was out there. So, this is a big statement on their part and a big investment to be putting these people in place in each of the products to say, “Okay…” So maybe I’m not saying security first, but it is pretty close to saying that.

Krista Macomber: I mean my LinkedIn post that is going to be coming out, I did use that language. To me, I think it’s that statement. And I like to see it, especially they did have that Midnight Blizzard attack last fall. Of course, they’re certainly not alone. But to your point, Camberley, I think it showed a company like Microsoft that is so large, so well-established, especially in enterprise and workforce productivity, the fact that they weren’t even immune. You know what I mean? I think they really, on the backside of that, have really been not only bringing some very cool pieces of technology to market.

We worked with them earlier this year on what they were doing around Copilot, and I’m sure we’re going to be hearing more about that this week. But also, as you mentioned, making sure that they’re continuing to invest from an internal Microsoft perspective in these deputy CISOs and things of that nature to really make sure that they’re keeping as up-to-date as is possible with different attack vectors and vulnerabilities and things like that. So, I’m really, really looking forward to having these conversations with them.

Camberley Bates: So, one last question I have is, what are you expecting to be the big themes coming out of RSA next week?

Krista Macomber: Yeah-

Camberley Bates: We’ll test you today, and then we’ll see actually what’s true at the end next week.

Krista Macomber: I know, right? Let’s break out the crystal ball here, right? Yeah, so definitely a few things. And actually, I was starting to put some thought to this because I will of course have some coverage. And so, I was thinking, “Okay, I need to start organizing how we’re going to cover this.” And I think one theme I think will be artificial intelligence and gen AI. So, RSA-

Camberley Bates: Peanut butter. Peanut butter. Peanut buttered.

Krista Macomber: I know, right? And it’s interesting because, so I did not have the opportunity to attend last year, but I am aware of the fact that the RSA conference last year occurred on the heels of ChatGPT, and so it was top of mind at that point. But I think it was still so new that there wasn’t a ton of meat there. And so, I think what we’re going to start to see a lot more meat from a couple of different perspectives. So, not only using artificial intelligence to support the defenders, if you will, using artificial intelligence to improve things like our ability to detect attacks, our ability to quickly have incident response and quickly recover from attacks and things of that nature. But also, having some of these conversations around securing artificial intelligence applications, their training data, any RAG models for example. So, I think there’s going to be a number of streams of conversations around AI that we’re going to be having, and is going to have that additional layer of maybe sophistication that perhaps it didn’t have last at this point last year just because-

Camberley Bates: So, maybe we’ll actually have bullet points under AI. So, we’ll say generative AI was a theme, but one of the key themes of that, using generative AI to better predict and all that stuff, we’re actually getting into, okay, what are we really doing here, guys?

Krista Macomber: Exactly. Exactly. Okay, so it’s the buzzword, that’s great. But what do we actually need to do and be worried about tactically? So, there’s a couple other things, but that leads me to another topic that I’m expecting, which is this burnout of security teams, security analysts and things of that nature. They just continue to get inundated. We talk about that on the IT operations side, but you can make a case that maybe even the security teams are getting maybe even more inundated these days, just because piggybacking on AI, I think AI is going to fuel the cadence at which attackers are also evolving.

So, they have AI now, and I’ve been listening to actually Darknet Diaries, the podcast around just the dark side of how attackers are evolving. And just even some of the social engineering and how those attacks are evolving. I mean it’s pretty frightening, especially when thinking about deep fakes and how realistic these attacks can be and just how innovative. So, I think that’s going to be a big theme. And the third topic that is top of mind for me that sort of maybe ties a bow on all of this a little bit is just your security posture management. So, as you know, Camberley, I spend a lot of time in the world of data protection and data security, and that’s looking at…

Your data security posture management is one thing, but that’s certainly extending across the network, certainly into the application space. So, I just, earlier this week, had a webinar with a company called Pynt that does API security, and part of that is taking stock of all your APIs, knowing what you have, knowing where your vulnerabilities are, being able to test them. And so, it’s having this more proactive and preventative approach, and really leveraging a strong sense of your security posture and where you really need to prioritize across all of your assets. I think that’s going to be a big theme of conversation also next week.

Camberley Bates: Well, it’s going to be a full week. It’s like what VMware… At one point in time, VMware was where everybody had to be. It seems like RSA is where everybody has to be. So, either that or the GTC, that’s the other one everybody has to be at. Or AWS. I guess, we’ve got a few of those nowadays. Okay. Well, you guys have either learned a lot or you just wasted a half an hour listening to us. So, thank you very much for taking the time to tune into the Infrastructure Matters. Share, let your friends know this is a fabulous podcast and webcast or whatever. And we will catch you next week, and we’ll see if Ms. Krista was right about what the big things are coming out of there and the big announcements. Okay. Thank you very much, guys, and have a great week.

Krista Macomber: Thank you.

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Author Information

With a focus on data security, protection, and management, Krista has a particular focus on how these strategies play out in multi-cloud environments. She brings approximately a decade of experience providing research and advisory services and creating thought leadership content, with a focus on IT infrastructure and data management and protection. Her vantage point spans technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her work has appeared in major publications including eWeek, TechTarget and The Register.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Krista led the data center practice for Evaluator Group and the data center practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research. She also created articles, product analyses, and blogs on all things storage and data protection and management for analyst firm Storage Switzerland and led market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

Krista holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Journalism with a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

Camberley brings over 25 years of executive experience leading sales and marketing teams at Fortune 500 firms. Before joining The Futurum Group, she led the Evaluator Group, an information technology analyst firm as Managing Director.

Her career has spanned all elements of sales and marketing including a 360-degree view of addressing challenges and delivering solutions was achieved from crossing the boundary of sales and channel engagement with large enterprise vendors and her own 100-person IT services firm.

Camberley has provided Global 250 startups with go-to-market strategies, creating a new market category “MAID” as Vice President of Marketing at COPAN and led a worldwide marketing team including channels as a VP at VERITAS. At GE Access, a $2B distribution company, she served as VP of a new division and succeeded in growing the company from $14 to $500 million and built a successful 100-person IT services firm. Camberley began her career at IBM in sales and management.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Business from California State University – Long Beach and executive certificates from Wellesley and Wharton School of Business.

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