Backup vendor Cohesity has announced a "strategic partnership" with AWS for a Data Management as a Service offer that it claims is unlike any offer on the market today.
Amazon (the parent company of AWS) has made an equity investment in Cohesity (the amount has not been disclosed) and Cohesity is making AWS its preferred cloud provider for the DMaaS offer.
"Through AWS, customers can access a wealth of AWS services, including Amazon Macie, to help customers meet compliance needs, and Amazon Redshift for analytics. We are thrilled to collaborate with AWS and look forward to ushering in a new era in data management for customers globally," said Mohit Aron, CEO and Founder, Cohesity in a statement.
Customers will subscribe to the service by purchasing through Cohesity partners, though Cohesity also suggested there would be a direct-to-market offer of some kind, likely available through the AWS Marketplace.
For customers with on-site data they want to send to the cloud, Cohesity will provide a virtual machine (as an OVA template) in the customer's infrastructure as a kind of gateway virtual appliance it calls a SaaS connector. This differs from the existing backup-to-cloud mechanism for Cohesity customers that sends data to cloud storage services like S3, separately managed by the customer.
Cohesity boasts over 400 joint customers with AWS, where customers use Cohesity and also have data in AWS, but who manage the infrastructure themselves. The goal with DMaaS seems partly about taking over management of infrastructure so that customers don't need to handle it themselves; this is a tried and tested offer type that appeals to many (but not all) customers.
I spoke to Cohesity about the new DMaaS offer and while there's certainly plenty of potential, this announcement seems geared towards getting some more early adopters to come and try things so Cohesity can figure out what the offer should really be. Key details of the offer are still being worked out, including the price point. Availability is limited to AWS' US-East and US-West regions for now. The features are limited to backup and recovery tasks, though a disaster-recovery capability was foreshadowed.
All of which is fine, but these are all available as production-ready offers from competitors today.
As a product announcement, there's not a lot of there there, but if we instead look at this announcement as signalling to the market where Cohesity intends to move, it's far more interesting.
Cohesity is fairly committed to the idea of running apps on the data collected from its backup functions. It's long been a dream for backup companies to do more with the data that sits idle in its vaults, yet customers never seem to fully embrace this idea. They try it a few times—using backup data to populate test/dev, or running a scan or two over the data to see what's there—but it's rare to hear of companies obtaining major business benefits from re-purposing the backup data. Eventually they all seem to decide that making copies of production data directly is the preferred operational approach.
I can see the appeal for Cohesity and AWS here: AWS wants to drive use of its various data products like SageMaker, Redshift or Athena, and Cohesity has its marketplace for running apps on data ingested into the Cohesity platform. Both companies stand to make money if they can convince customers to do more things with the data that's been collected, whether or not there's any actual benefit to doing so.
It's also easier to get customers to try out new things if the effort of doing so is reduced. Buying on-site infrastructure is much harder than clicking "Sure, why not?" in a web console that automatically rents a few dozen services from AWS in the background. Cohesity can make a lot more easy money this way than by selling appliances that live in the sites that people no longer visit because of a global pandemic.
The alignment with a single cloud vendor is interesting, as well. While in theory customers shouldn't need to care about the supply chain of their vendors, we're seeing plenty of reasons why customers do need to care. The GDPR and the Schrems II decision provides one handy example of why caring about where data physically resides is of growing importance.
I'd expect that Most Favored Nation status will be extended to multiple clouds, especially since M&A is a thing and AWS isn't the only game in town. This might be complicated by the equity investment from Amazon, but the lure of additional profit usually overcomes any such minor concerns.
This piece was originally published in Forbes, here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/justinwarren/2020/10/14/cohesity-announces-aws-partnership-for-data-management-service/#3ad899434c9d