Chess piece in first move

Why Secondary is First for Cohesity

By Mohit Aron • March 20, 2018

It’s easy to fall into the “more is better” trap. This is true whether you’re adding salt to a cup of soup, or mulling tech opportunities. Take for instance the opportunity to modernize the data center. Clearly modernization is needed in both primary and secondary applications and data. I saw this as CTO and co-founder of Nutanix, and obviously the market has responded well with Nutanix now over $1B in revenue.

Yet when your company is teeming with expertise in both areas, some might get greedy and try to attack both the primary and secondary markets, but that would not be advisable. For Cohesity, focusing development efforts on data center transformation for secondary applications and data as our one and only priority is a no brainer. Here’s why.

The Distinction Between Secondary and Primary

First some historical context: Many people are confused about what the term secondary means. People used to think secondary only referred to backups. But this is a limited scope of the role secondary applications and data play in the modern enterprise.

In addition to backup, you can consider files and objects, test/dev, and analytics workloads all as secondary. Why? One, they typically are using data that is generated somewhere else by another primary application. And two, the application does not require a strict SLA, i.e., it is not mission critical. Furthermore, they typically comprise 60-80% of total infrastructure within a modern data center. Today, these secondary workloads are highly fractured, fragmented, and inefficient. This is a big unaddressed area of opportunity, ripe for consolidation.

The primary vs secondary-storage distinction becomes clear when you use everyday scenarios. For example, when an enterprise developer runs his new application on a copy of data from their Oracle database, this is a secondary use case!

Three Reasons to Keep our Eye on the Secondary Prize

This is why I founded Cohesity as I saw the need for reinvention of secondary. And there are three big reasons why I feel there is plenty of opportunity in this space.

1) Market opportunity: There has been plenty of innovation and competition in primary applications and storage in the data center over the past ten years. There is no shortage of new innovative companies including Nutanix, Pure Storage, and more.

In contrast, secondary applications and storage have largely been ignored, so there is a lot of potential for disruption. Moreover, with 60 to 80% of the data center in secondary, the overall market is much bigger than it is for primary, so there is plenty of opportunity for a young company like ours.

2) Focus on our strengths: In today’s IT environment, no single company can solve a problem as an island. And this is true for us. We’ve focused our engineering and product roadmap on solving the significant problems in secondary. But for a CIO to implement digital transformation and transform the IT environment, he or she needs solutions for both primary and secondary applications. We believe that holistic problems can only be solved with a healthy ecosystem, and to help solve these challenges, we’ll focus on strategic partnerships with primary vendors.

So the secondary market keeps us pretty busy. We’d much rather focus on our strengths in secondary, and partner with leading vendors for the rest.

3) Different market requirements drive different go to market: As described above, there are two classes of problems because of the very different needs in the data center for primary and secondary applications. This in turn entails different marketing and sales motions. For primary, you need to focus messaging around iops, throughput, and how fast users can return their response time. Meanwhile, for secondary you need to talk about dollar-per-gigabyte, information lifecycle of data, and the ability to economically extend capacity.

Because of these vastly different customer needs, no company has truly been successful putting both primary and secondary under one umbrella. EMC has come closest to trying. But they still had separate teams for their products, with dedicated sales and marketing for each.

With a company so large not integrating these successfully, it simply doesn’t make sense to market and sell both in one breath.

So, Cohesity will stick to doing what we do best – solving the significant challenges for secondary applications and data.

Want to weigh in on this topic? Tweet me!

madison