Saturday, August 4, 2007

Vacation - what vacation

Ok, ok...I'm back. Been a little busy this month, and had trouble finding time to blog...

Ah, heck...that's a lie...

The truth is that I promised to tell the Revivio story in July, and everytime I sit down to write I find myself getting lost trying to frame up 4 years in a few paragraphs. Here's another attempt.

So, what happened?

Well, first let's put this all in perspective.

In 2002 when I first met Mike Rowan, the words "continuous data protection" had never been used together in a sentence. No one had any idea what he - and later I - was talking about.

The idea - a highly efficient copy on write appliance - was novel. Two other startups - one in Canada and one in California - had rumbled around similar concepts without gaining any foothold. We were determined to break out and run with it.

Together, Mike and I not only coined the term, but we dual-handedly put CDP on the map - creating an entire market from scratch - and eventually developing significant economic value for a bunch of folks - us excluded.

We engineered and delivered to market the absolute best CDP technology ever created.

We sold large enterprise class systems to real customers for hundreds of thousands of dollars each -unfortunately just not enough of them.

By all accounts, Revivio's marketing communication was world-class - one of my competitors once called me the best marketing VP in storage. We one award after award for our skillful communication of CDP's value proposition. Our work was responsible for the generic understanding of CDP now pervasive in the storage market. We even had the audacity to kick start the SNIA CDP industry working group that instantly legitimized the space.

What we didn't realize when we started all this in 2002 is that we were 5 years ahead of our skis in terms of market acceptance.

Every customer who heard our story was mesmerized, they loved the story, agreed that the technology was killer and would offer an incredible value to them. No one said no...but few bought. It seemed there was always one project ahead of us in the priority queue. We blew through sales executives like water. Sure we had our unfair share of burnouts and losers, but the core issue was that the CDP market wasn't ready.

And, without a representative customer base, we couldn't get the feedback necessary to answer basic questions about packaging, price, feature priorities. Sure, we did market research - formal and informal, every form imaginable. The problem was that customers who had never seen CDP couldn't really tell us what they wanted or how they wanted it. They could only suppose how they would use it - and it was up to us to fill in the blanks.

Over time, it became clear that replication was going to be a critical requirement. Customers had replication budgets - they didn't have CDP budgets. But replication without some form of point in time recovery was virtually worthless. Eighteen months into it, we realized that if we put replication and CDP together we would have a killer offer.

But we had a problem. We had designed and engineering our product to meet the needs of enterprise customers - it was a highly available in-line device - and it was still buggy. We were working out the kinks in the basic product, and we did not have the engineering resources to create and add replication.

At that point a critical and ultimately fatal decision was made...

1 comment:

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