I get to talk to a lot of companies – literally hundreds a quarter. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding the value proposition, other times it hits me right away. Sometimes I struggle with the definitions of things. Take for instance the NIST Cloud tenet – "broad network access." Really? Isn’t that kinda obvious? The original use of the term "cloud" was always used to refer to the networks that connected companies to the Internet and to their other locations. Today’s use of broad networks access of course has evolved – now it means something more like "able to connect from any device to any service via the Internet." I think we can go further with that – why not say broad data access? We don’t really connect over the network for the sake of using the network – we have some information destination in mind.
That brings me to one company that provides broad data access – Actifio. Most people think of them as a data protection company – and yup they are definitely all that. But after the briefing I had with them last week – I had the light bulbs go off and I really do see a lot more – I see a cloud company providing broad data access.
· First of all, almost 50% of Actifio’s business comes from service providers. If that doesn’t make you stop for second, then you there is something wrong with you. I bet I can count on my 10 fingers technology companies that see 50% or more of their revenue from service providers.
· Second, Actifio’s sales models fit the traditional budget process but they also have a utility pricing model and offer a managed service offering. So you can acquire the software or buy it as a service.
· Third, the use cases they have fostered are perfect for the cloud. Let’s start with data protection – no brainer stuff – they provide a deduplicated copy of the data that can be used for backups, snapshots, and replication. Next is business continuity (BC) – again a no brainer. The copy data is available on-prem or can be off-prem for BC and disaster recovery. Plus the applications can use the copy data storage directly if needed or the copies can be brought back in seconds to minutes. Next use case is an active archive – which allows companies to develop compliance based retention policies around the data. Now for the cool ones – use case 4 is for test/dev data clones. The copies can be used to provision test/dev environments quickly without impacting production or restoring from tape. Hours/days turned into minutes. The last use case is for big data analysis – allowing copies to be used for the analysis – again without touching the primary data.
Now where this gets even more interesting – what if you are a service provider? The product is storage subsystem agnostic – so if your data center has EMC on-prem and the service provider has NetApp – no problem. The cloud service provider can use the Actifio software to build out a myriad of services – from backup-as-a-service to DRaaS to Test/Dev-as-a-Service. With their success in the service provider community, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing Actifio be the "Broad Data Access" enabler for cloud providers around the globe.