Veeam is the bright beam for cloud data management: Shaun McLagan

CIOs should elevate the criticality of data management in their IT blueprint to traverse digital transformation journey successfully, says Shaun McLagan, APJ chief at Veeam Software.

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Data management has always been a hard task for companies and their IT teams on their digital transformation journey with advent of cloud, IoT, SDx and other new technologies.

Veeam has been accelerating its footprint globally as a data management, and now, a cloud data management company. IDG had an interaction with Shaun McLagan, senior vice president, Asia Pacific and Japan at Veeam Software, about the data management industry today and trends for the future.

Edited excerpts

It’s been a year and a half since you joined Veeam. Could you highlight some notable achievements and any roadblocks which you’ve ironed out till date? 

When I joined Veeam, my role was to grow the company's presence in Asia Pacific and Japan. The sub-regions that were  included Japan, China and India as hyper growth regions, and then South East Asia and Korea (SEAK), Hong Kong, Taiwan and ANZ. We’re hiring the best people, growing top line with a focused channel strategy, and acquiring thousands of net new customers monthly because we are growing market share in the virtualized, data protection world which remains our core business.

Shaun’s Bucket List for CIOs on Data Management Strategy

Position the criticality of data and data management high enough in their own company.
 

Have a data management conversation and not data back-up talk with your CSO, Chief Risk Officer or the Board.
 

Understand the value of running a service provider business in your own business.
 

Communicate more with LOBs and business stakeholders on data to cloud and multi cloud.
 

As owner of data, infra or storage manager, or data protection manager, you must be able to sell the importance of data management inside your organization.

Veeam is at an amazing place amongst the four companies in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, wherein the other three legacy providers have shrinking market share; they’re shedding staff and still adjusting to a virtualized hyper-cloud world. 

When we were a USD 500 million company, APJ was contributing 10 percent to the company revenue. As a billion dollar company, APJ makes 11 percent of the share, with 400 people across the region. The focus is more towards driving a dedicated GTM on data management and helping companies on their cloud and digital transformation journey than fighting for market share. 

As for the roadblocks, it is about hiring the best people, as fast as possible. Building teams for me is the most important factor, as we intend to grow our head count in APJ region by 37 percent this year - at a time when there have been high profile exits recently at our competitor Commvault. 

I was waiting for that word (Commvault).

They (Commvault) are at an interesting stage of their evolution. Now, they’re a publicly traded company whose stock is not moving much. For a private equity company, that is just burning cash at a massive amount, and anyone could win. I would bet on the one that’s got money, customers, and good growth. 

The USD 7 billion market for cloud data management, and the adjacent market at USD 26 billion together is a colossal market opportunity. The winner will be a technology vendor who proves its value to companies in helping them determine their cloud strategy now and in the future. 

Besides hiring people who understand the channel ecosystem, we have solid partnerships with HPE, Cisco, Lenovo, NetApp, Pure, AWS and others. Unlike other vendors, Veeam has several relationships in the IT industry because we’re more focused on what we do. There’s no chance on the planet that we will get into domains like advanced firewalls.

Did you tweak strategies while consolidating the six regions because every region has a unique flavour, maturity level of channels, adoption rate for cloud, and focused industry verticals?

We play on a set of framework and values across regions to be successful. What we do in ANZ is not what we need to do in SAARC. What we do in Japan is totally different from our India GTM. The greatest part about APJ is that it’s so diverse and you can always take pieces of success to replicate in other countries. 

We put inside sales reports into central locations, certain channel alliances but the strategy is developed in the geography. Our 10-year-old AMEA business is extremely mature that contributes to 50 percent of total revenues. New Zealand is arguably the most hyper-cloud market in the last decade. SAARC has tremendous potential - overall and long term.  

... To be honest, our role is hardware-agnostic, premise-agnostic and cloud-agnostic. Our technology solutions monitor the data movement, and as to why we’re in business and why companies need us - it’s back to the 30-year-old principles of RPO and RTO.
Shaun McLagan
Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Veeam Software

Veeam popular as ‘back-up vendor’ calls itself intelligent data management company and now a cloud data management company. Do you flex your value proposition depending on the customer profile and their needs?

No! You are right because sometimes we act like a start-up, because we’re just quick. We have always focused on the data and we kind of move the circle around. I still believe we’re in the data protection business and what’s next for the customer in that journey – be it intelligent data management, orchestration, AI, and for some, it is back up. For those looking at hyper-converged - we have a great partnership with Nutanix. To be honest, our role is hardware-agnostic, premise-agnostic and cloud-agnostic. Our technology sits on top of the data to help it move, but if you ask why we’re in business and why people need us, it’s back to the 30-year-old principles of RPO and RTO.

With data explosion hitting astronomical numbers, will multi cloud turn out to be multi complex for CIOs?

Top priorities for APJ Chief at Veeam

1. Build great teams by hiring the best talent in the region.
 

2. Increase the head count by nearly 37% this year.
 

2. Continue momentum as Veeam’s hyper-growth market.
 

3. Emerge as a winner in the cloud data management world.
 

4. Strengthen channel partner ecosystem for multi cloud world.

Cloud was never going to be easy though initially it was supposed to be cost-efficient. Multi cloud is a reality - PaaS, SaaS, hosting - unless it’s like department of defence where everything is air-gapped. Multi cloud is a challenge for CIOs and CISOs to deliver the fundamental principles of security and availability of data. And 5G will only speed that aspect with data coming in from all parts of businesses.

Our core business ensures that no matter where the data is - we will get it back in line with the policies that match your risk strategy. Our new licencing scheme doesn’t charge you every time you move the platform - either HPE to Nutanix, or Azure to AWS, which is different from some of our competitors. 

The other conversation is about the challenges faced by chief risk officers or CSOs around the three facets of security - Protect, detect and remediate. When the remediate conversation comes up, it was earlier easy to get back the data, but now it’s everywhere. We help those two come together to build age old IT, a DR plan but also an incident recovery plan. 

What are the common pitfalls you have seen with CIOs or ITDMs on their strategy around data protection or data management? 

Many of them are not positioning the criticality of data and data management high enough in their own company. And it isn’t lack of skills or desire or any dearth of products. The leaders in the space believe they are not having a data back-up conversation but a data management conversation with their chief security officers, risk officers or the Board. They can use legislation, or threat of cyber-crime or downtime, but a board conversation needs the backing, finances and an understanding of running a service provider business in their own business. People who don't do that effectively, really struggle. They hold on to what they have, and it’s a mismatch as other BUs are leveraging cloud. If I am the owner of the data or an infrastructure manager, storage manager, data protection manager, I must be able to sell the importance of data management inside my organization. 

The 2019 IDG State of the CIO Survey mentions communication as key for CIOs, both internally and externally. Do you think CIOs and LOBs talk often because data is oil, oxygen and money for digital companies? 

Communication inside the organization is important, and stakeholder management in the company needs to be strong. It is clear that the ones who are very aligned to the business are quickly adapting to technology changes like multi cloud or hyper converged, versus the ones who drag you into a feature functioning strategy on a day to day basis. 

“As a billion dollar company, APJ makes 11% of the share, with 400 people across the region. The focus is more towards driving a dedicated GTM on data management and helping companies on their cloud and digital transformation journey than fighting for market share.”

We believe that software today should be light and easy to install, whereas the legacy in this space has been - A sale after ticking 87 pages of supportability matrices and meeting the data back-up team of, say, seven people. My view is putting one person at the centre and reskilling other six in data analytics to take the insights back to the company.

What do CIOs and IT leaders actually expect from Veeam besides great technology and low TCO of its solutions? 

They expect a couple of things otherwise we would just be a backup vendor. They expect us to bring them innovation and to show them what best practices opportunity looks like. Not being a consulting firm, we’re in a unique position as we see every version of customer’s story - full cloud, hybrid cloud, multi cloud, hyper converged. CIOs’ teams see our relationship as a trust relationship. 

Our Net Promoter Score (NPS) is 73 which is up there with Apple and Netflix. CIOs want us to be open, they don't want data lock-in. In the history of IT, data lock-in has been very lucrative for vendors, but it doesn’t work in today’s app economy. 

What’s the update on your GTM route through channel partners in APJ? Has there been a major change? 

The interesting part to our channel proposition is that we don't compete with them. We don’t sell services and don’t want to be in that game. Software vendors enter the services game - and most of them do - because software is complicated but reduces quickly. Our view is you don’t need services, you need migration services, for instance, how Veeam works inside a Nutanix AHV, SAP HANA through a specialised channel partner. 

Veeam’s proposition to our channel partners is that we have hired 100s of sellers-sales, pre-sales and alliances people in APJ because we are investing in both digital and event marketing, as well as high touch services. We are open to any channel partners including typical hardware storage, infrastructure partners, born in the cloud MSPs and also virtualization partners. Our relationships with HPE, Lenovo, Cisco, among others, have opened up so many partner and distribution opportunities. 

What are your priorities as APJ leader? Do you see greener pastures ahead for Veeam and yourself on a personal font? 

Some of my priorities are always focused on my people. Veeam is a peoples’ business. While we grow this quickly, we need to retain the best in the industry, hire the best people and promote the best in the industry. Secondly, I feel great responsibility and opportunity for Veeam’s hyper-growth market. APJ region has a holistic appetite for technology, and we can grow at 40 percent. The last thing is setting it up for the next two to three years. 

We aim to be a winner in cloud data management as we invest, build, buy and develop talent. Veeam is the data management provider for what’s next, which for every customer is different.