Gartner's 2016 backup software report: Commvault and Veeam are standouts

Findings from a Gartner 2016 Magic Quadrant report about backup software include Commvault is ranked on top, Veeam is gaining attention, and the market could be entirely different by 2020.

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Commvault is the top-ranked enterprise backup company, but they and rivals will have to stay agile as customers are feeling increasingly comfortable with using new technologies from smaller providers, research firm Gartner explained in its 2016 Magic Quadrant for Data Center Backup and Recovery Software.

SEE: Data backups: The smart person's guide

Gartner storage analyst Dave Russell noted that his team's annual report has some changes from the previous few editions. It no longer covers integrated backup appliances, instead returning to its roots as a pure software discussion. Only one company, FalconStor, is dropped after being part of the 2015 report. That is because FalonStor refocused on its own storage products and stopped selling backup software separately. There are no new companies listed in the report, not counting Veritas Technologies, which was formerly part of Symantec.

Commvault ranked first for completeness of its vision and its ability to execute that vision. That company's products cover just about every major backup software feature throughout the widest selection of storage hardware arrays, Gartner stated. However, there's a steep curve for installation/training, and Commvault's sales channels outside the United States are not top-tier.

Everyone knows about EMC, IBM, and Veritas, which fill out the rest of Gartner's top category for backup software; that tier also includes lesser-known Veeam, which formed in 2006.

"Veeam has jumped up to be the fifth-largest backup vendor, according to Gartner market share. Veeam now takes in more backup revenue than [Hewlett-Packard Enterprise], although in early 2016 HPE acquired a virtual machine backup vendor (Trilead) to in part compete better with Veeam. Curiously, Veeam is #5 in terms of market share, and Veeam is also the fifth-most mentioned backup vendor in Gartner end user inquires," Russell said.

Three more takeaways from the report

What else is new or different about the enterprise backup software market? Russell made three observations based on the report:

  • "The market overall is continuing to show a willingness to consider new vendors and new approaches, and in the last year this has accelerated. One interesting difference is that more and more organizations are willing to deploy multiple solutions, for VM backup or to protect new workloads, in an attempt to improve cost, obtain new capabilities, or to reduce complexity associated with backup and recovery. One other item that is new is that, overall, pricing has decreased on a cost/TB basis."
  • "While the four largest vendors remain dominant with just over 70% of the market, the market looks like it will continue to fragment. There are many ways to spend your data protection dollar. Not only are there many different backup vendors, with new emerging vendors, but hyperconverged solutions, self-protecting storage (e.g., snapshot, integrated array software for key application, and replication), etc."
  • "After almost 27 years in backup, it's amazing how very differently the same product can be perceived by different administrators and organizations. After all these years, backup is often still very complex and sometimes still quite brittle."

What to expect in the backup software market by 2020

Russell added that enterprise storage customers are changing and so backup software providers must be ready to adapt. For example, his team expects that by 2020 more than 40% of organizations will supplant long-term backup with archiving systems, double the amount that did so last year, and that by 2018 more than 50% of organizations consider purchasing from vendors that formed less than five years ago, up from less than 30% today.

Russell's team recently also studied the coolest vendors in storage.

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By Evan Koblentz

Evan became a technology reporter during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. He published a book, "Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers" in 2015 and is executive director of Vintage Computer Federation, a 501(c)3 non-p...