Commvault scales up Activate Go-to-Market with licensing changes, product enhancements

Since its formal launch a year ago, Commvault has been strengthening its internal resources behind the offering, and will be doing the same with channel resources going forward.

Ranga Rajagopalan onstage at Commvault GO

DENVER – At the Commvault GO event here this week, the company announced a new series of product and licensing changes to their Activate solution for data insights and governance. It’s part of an expanded Go-to-Market push to encourage Activate’s employment in more use cases.

The Activate product has an interesting history. It has actually been available for sale for about two years, the first of which saw little fanfare as Commvault wanted to build up a reference portfolio around it before giving it a formal launch. That came a year ago, as the Activate launch was one of the main news items at GO last year.  At this year’s GO, a reintroduction of Activate was a major focus of the company’s keynote announcements on the event’s second day.

“Activate is our data governance product,” Ranga Rajagopalan, Commvault’s Vice President Of Product Management, told the GO audience in the Wednesday keynote. “It has powerful indexing technology built into the platform, which continuously and proactively scans and looks for any sensitive data patterns, and keeps all that information handy.

Rajagopalan then did a demo which showed how Activate could quickly analyze files containing sensitive data and purge them across worldwide locations.

“Sensitive doesn’t mean bad,” he said. “It means data patterns that could be sensitive for you. Activate flags files so you can take a look at those data. It has a unique concept of a Sensitivity score, depending what you classify as highest risk. The next step is to take action. Like all Commvault products, it gives freedom of choice. You can choose to delete files, quarantine them, archive them, or just ignore the flagging.

“An innovation we added last year is that Activate can delete files from production data and backup copies,” Rajagopalan continued. “It’s an interesting and important feature, to remove exposure to risks if you have to restore.”

He cited an example of an an information breach situation where information was recovered, but where the backups had not had information purged for privacy requests, resulting in this having to be done again.

“Another interesting aspect is specifying who needs to view a workflow from the business, while keeping track of what decision was taken,” Rajagopalan said. “So if there is a compliance audit, you have a trail, providing simplicity without compromising on flexibility.”

“Customers are also able to use Activate as a means of performing a quick and simple discovery operation,” said Matt Tyrer, Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, at Commvault. “The nice thing is it doesn’t need Commvault  backup to be in place. Initially, it was much more intertwined with the Commvault backup.”

The changes to the product this year are motivated by a desire to get more aggressive taking it to market.

“We are quite pleased with Activate’s market reception in the last year, but are in a scaling-up mode at the moment,” said Patrick McGrath, Director of Product Management – Search & Analytics, at Commvault. “Now we have started growth mode, and we are now in a mode where we are scaling our Go-To-Market and are beefing up our product at the same time.”

At the GA launch last year, Activate was introduced as a total bundle.

“With that bundle, it was sold on a user model with full package,” McGrath said. “The problem was that if you just wanted to do say, a cloud integration, you got eDiscovery and everything else with it.  Taking it to market led us to realize that we had to change the licensing model. We are about to roll that out.”

Under the new licensing system, the whole Commvault Activate suite will still be available on a per-user basis, for organizations who want to buy it that way. The difference is that they can now purchase the separate Activate capabilities – File Storage Optimization, Sensitive Data Governance and eDiscovery –  on either a per TB basis [for use with file and VM data] or a per user basis [for use with email or Microsoft Office 365 data].

McGrath said that this new licensing system is really suited to a project approach.

“It will enable people to buy Activate for just the use case they were looking at, and let them address their most pressing challenge first, with the possibility of expanding their use cases as their needs evolve,” he said. “We expect this will led to an evolution of use cases which could also drive reasonable revenue around Commvault Complete and also Orchestrate.”

Tyrer noted that this project approach makes it easy to do important projects quickly.

“It’s a lot easier for partners to drop into a ‘best fit’ situation, when it’s something just for one use case,” he said. “These are typically time-bound projects. We had a recent case where a police department in Canada had an Access to Information request. Over the span of a weekend we installed Activate, did the indexing, and were able to provide the data on Monday.”

McGrath also emphasized that Commvault has been ramping up its sales resources around the product, and will be doing the same for the channel.

“We spent the last six months enabling our sales force, talking about strategic impacts of the new use cases, enabling the partner program and getting feedback. The last year has been building up our resources inward, and now that we are on the scaling side there will be leverage of the partner side.”

McGrath said that new channel sales tools to sell Activate are in the process of development, under a new enablement initiative under Sandy Hamilton, Commvault’s VP for Customer Success.

“We are at the point where we will be focused on the training over the next couple of quarters,” McGrath indicated.

“We may also want to attract new partners, both technology partners and services partners who are experts in the space,” he added.

The changes to the product include Entitlement Management to the Activate File Storage Optimization.

“This adds the ability to control access for file storage optimization, and to apply changes,” McGrath said. “We also have a roadmap for expanding that functionality.”

Redaction is now available when exporting files using Activate Sensitive Data Governance.

“On the sensitive data side, we also added additional data sources that we pull in for analysis, and added in new types of remediations including delete from backup,” McGrath said.

Significant changes to the user experience were demonstrated on the show floor in preview mode, and are expected to become available in SP 18 in December.

“One of the big things is usability changes, making Activate easier to use and to deploy,” McGrath said. “We have added a lot of user experience changes for eDiscovery, pulling a new case manager and a new compliance search into the Command Center.”

The future roadmap includes some major news for MSPs.

“We are poised to have a fully multi-tenanted version of Activate,  something that MSPs can leverage,” McGrath indicated.

McGrath also expects the use cases to expand, pointing out how Commvault itself is using Activate internally.

“Our product management and internal bug management are built on it,” he said. “We use its legal workflow process for NDAs and contracts. We also use it as an analytics platform for pipeline analysis – from marketing, Salesforce, fulfilment systems, finance, and support systems to look at tickets. It is able to determine which deals are more likely to close.”

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