Changes this year to Commvault product portfolio and channel model already showing strong results in Canada

Bassam Hemdan, Commvault’s Canadian county manager, discussed the recent changes to Commvault’s portfolio and policies and their impact in the Canadian market.

Bassam Hemdan, Commvault’s country manager in Canada

NASHVILLE – At their GO event for customers and partners here, data protection vendor formally announced its new product portfolio, which has been reduced to four components: their data protection software; an expanded appliance line; an as-a-service offering, and their Activate line for data discovery. They also announced an expansion of their strategic go-to-market relationships, and emphasized the reinvigoration of their reseller channel. Bassam Hemdan, Commvault’s country manager in Canada, sat down with ChannelBuzz to discuss how these changes specifically impact the Canadian market.

Hemdan said the Canadian market isn’t really distinct in terms of its particular wants and needs in backup and recovery.

“What makes business sense anywhere will make sense everywhere,” he said. “Canada is very advanced in our area of business. They are aware of the value of data, and what they can get out of it, and they are very aware of the need to manage their data growth.”

Hemdan has been with Commvault since 2014, originally as the Vice President for the Middle East, South Africa and Turkey [MESAT]. When he decided to move to Canada in 2017, Commvault created a new role for him, Vice President of the Worldwide Industry Solutions Group, to look at what Commvault can do to help customers with specific industry-specific requirements around data, as part of digital transformation. He was moved to the Canadian country manager role earlier this year, and said that in retrospect, the timing for this could not have been better.

“I was lucky enough to come in at the right time, as we were preparing the market for all of the changes that we have been seeing,” he said. “The focus on simplification of doing business with us and the partner transformation strategy were coming in as I came to Canada, and helped me a lot. We’ve seen phenomenal acquisition in the market.”

Commvault’s single end-to-end platform has always been a strategic advantage, Hemdan said. He stressed that it has now been accentuated by the recent simplification of the product portfolio from 25 product lines to four, and by the recent transition to a partner-led model.

“Our core messaging has had the advantage of simplicity around the single platform, in that it provides customers with less risk, and with a ‘one-stop shop’ for all their needs, without going to point solutions. The single platform reduces costs as well, and makes things easier to manage. Customers today are looking for software-defined solutions, and we have a software-defined, end-to-end data management solution that isn’t hardware or point solution-driven. That’s why we have had been one of the highest customer retention rates in the industry.”

Hemdan stressed that being able to add to this core advantage with the simplified product base has helped Commvault a lot in Canada.

“It has taken the complexity out, and made it a lot easier for companies to do business with us,” he said.

“The transformation to a partner-led organization this year has really made this a significant business as well, Hemdan added. “We have seen a growth in the amount of business done from our important existing partners in Canada, as the changes have made it easier for a wider range of their teams to position and promote us. We have also been able to realize these same benefits by bringing in new partners, including both representing different types of business as well as ones focused on different verticals. Our sales numbers are not public, but they are very impressive.”

Cloud solution provider Britesky, which is based in the western part of the Ottawa region, and which was spun out of a VAR [Decisive] in 2012 in part to pursue white-labelling resell opportunities with companies who would consider Decisive a competitor, emphasizes selling high-end gear to their customers, and is exclusive to Commvault in the data protection space. They said that the channel changes over the last year have been meaningful.

“Commvault has always been a good organization to deal with because they actually listen,” said Richard Losier, Britesky’s VP of Technology. “They want to make sure that we grow.’ Losier said that following Scott Strubel’s appointment as VP of Worldwide Channels in early 2018, they had seen a change to a true partner-led model.

“Commvault has also morphed where it makes sense,” said Joey Harrison, Britesky’s President. “When we suggest things, they change things.”

NetApp’s expanded relationship with Commvault was one of the highlights of the GO event, and Hemdan expects this will be very significant in Canada.

“We expect to see significant benefits in Canada from the expanded partnership with NetApp,” he indicated. “They have a large customer base here.”

Most of Commvault’s new product announcements at GO have been on the market for periods ranging from a few months to over a year, with the intent at GO being to reboot them within the context of the strategic emphasis on the greatly simplified product portfolio, and remind customers – and partners – of their existence. The major exception is the two new appliances, positioned both below and above the initial appliance product Commvault first brought to market in late 2017. The initial appliance has done well in Canada, and Hemdan said that he is expecting great things from the expansion of the line.

“I think the new single-node appliance in particular will be enormous here,” he said. “There is a lot of market opportunity here for that. Our existing partner base has full 360 degree coverage of the market, and they are optimistic about this.”

Most of the partner base today is focused on the backup and recovery solution, and on the appliances. The two other areas in the four product portfolio have considerable potential, however, Hemdan said.

“We see the as-a-service portfolio as providing customers with more of a choice in how they want to buy Commvault, and with some new customers, will make it an easier sell,” he said. “We think that the interest will grow, and that our existing partners will expand in their practices in that space.”

“We’ve had a lot of good conversations with customers at GO about this,” Losier said. “While there are a lot of big CSPs out there, there is still a gap in their offerings, and we slot ourselves very well for gaps in the Azure and AWS portfolios.”

The Activate solution has been available for sale for a year, but its reboot is really well timed to market dynamics, Hemdan stated.

“This is an extension of our core offerings, and compliance and content indexing have become a huge thing in the market,” he said. “The Canadian version of GDPR is coming in November. Customers today need to know what type of data they have, who has access, and what the risk is. They need a data management solution they can depend on to provide this, and Activate can do that for them.”

Britesky’s Losier said they see enormous potential in Activate.

“Today companies get insurance in the event of cyber-related attacks., but they need to show they are properly protected as well,” he stated. “They have to know more about what data that they have, even as the amount of data they have is exploding. Most don’t know what they have. Activate lets us really help a customer. It’s not just for compliance. Companies that don’t know what data they have waste money backing some data up repeatedly even though it has no value.”