2019 was a year of contrasts for backup and recovery but also confirmed the great health and growth potential in this market. It is, however, at the cusp of a critical change, one that will see vendors pivot to expanded capabilities and new use cases. Those who don’t invest in these new capabilities (organically or through acquisitions) will enter a phase of slow decline, which may not be immediately evident but that will be hard to reverse. More on this in the predictions section.
It is customary for some industry observers to give grades, score cards, and the like or to place vendors in geometrical forms invented by very ancient gods of technology. By design, we will not do this, but one is free to read between the lines. Organizations that consume backup and BC/DR technology are in a constant state of change as the focus on leveraging data for reuse in other parts of the organization and external threats upend traditional approaches.
We saw the confirmation with newer entrants that proved to be much more than the “ankle biters” that some of the incumbents tried to coin them as. Some new niche players are emerging too, and they are executing at what seems like lightspeed compared with others. Niche is a starting point, so don’t get stuck there!
Equally as important are the changes and the execution we observed among the “traditional” incumbents. There are no sleeping giants to easily go after in this market anymore, or any vendors that are resting on their laurels. We have seen some significant strategy adjustments for the better accompanied by action and execution. It is hard to think of a market segment in IT with vendors that have been so disciplined in their go to market against a backdrop of intense competitive pressures. This is particularly true in the enterprise space. Taking a snapshot of the market a year ago—pun fully intended—and comparing it with today demonstrates how most vendors have actually delivered on their roadmaps and invested in their ecosystem and channels.
In the mid-market, one vendor did particularly well with its focus on MSPs and some astute acquisitions and integrations. Another vendor that plays across a couple of segments confirmed its marketing and market superiority again and again. (Never underestimate great marketing.)
The convergence of technologies to solve burning issues such as ransomware and cybersecurity was evident across the board, and in the M&A space as well (this one is obvious!). These were some interesting moves that should pay off (if well executed, of course).
Cloud, cloud, cloud…of course. But we’re not there yet. Lots of new solutions and new capabilities. Lots of new workloads to protect. Let’s be honest: It’s a mess out there. There is still some work to do to get coherent and consistent RPOs and RTOs in the cloud or to the cloud like what has been achieved with on-premises and for backup-as-a-service. This being said, many improved or new offerings came to the forefront in 2019, and this should be encouraging for end-users. However, SaaS backup and recovery is still clearly misunderstood by many as are SaaS SLAs in general.
In 2019, we exposed how poorly protected Office 365 and Salesforce environments are. Luckily, vendors can help!
One big buzzword that we want to warn everyone against is “data management.” Please, vendors, turn off the buzzing marketing/PR machine. When something means completely different things to different people, it confuses them and the market. What is really happening is a pivot toward the intelligent reuse of data on the basis of having understood what it is, where it lives, etc.
In addition, compliance mandates like GDPR and CCPA do a good job of reminding businesses that they had better be on top of their data. The fun is over. Now it’s about privacy, and this changes everything. Some vendors have started providing new solutions for new parts of the business, new personas, and new decision makers (who have money to spend). Maybe 2019 was in fact the beginning of the end of this traditional backup and BC/DR market…or at least a turning point.