Great interview of Enrique Salem, CEO of Symantec, at SearchDataBackup, with regard to Symantec’s backup appliances and proactive monitoring of hardware: Do you have to convince customers you can get hardware right?

Salem: When you think of the appliance business, there are a lot of things around it to allow customers to use it reliably. One of the capabilities we’re focused on is how to do reliable remote diagnostics of what’s happening to an appliance. When they put an appliance in, a lot of customers are saying, ‘Great, but when there’s something wrong with the device I want to know about it.’ And they’d like that to be a proactive notification from Symantec. There’s a lot of work we’re doing around the hardware product.

This is an absolutely brilliant idea. We love it. Our customers love it. When we released it two years ago, our customers were thrilled.

I do think Symantec is right. One thing that I always thought when they and CommVault were slapping their software on Dell hardware and pushing it out the door (last I looked, both Symantec and CommVault were still doing this – although the AppAssure acquisition seems to have taken the shine off that) was that the kind of “vertically integrated” all-in-one backup appliance motion they were trying to attach to had legs if only they understood that they had to be responsible for the whole enchilada.

But I’d note the following. In order to really nail this, you have to engineer your support organization from the top-down and bottom-up to not only support proactive monitoring of the underlying hardware, but you have to have a customer-first perspective in your support.


  1. You sure are focused on Symantec rather than you’re own product. Certainly makes you seem like you’re trying to take down the “big bad bully”, but what I see is the annoying little kid trying to get all the attention. Maybe you should focus more on continuing to grow your brand, like Symantec has already done.

    1. Thanks tremendously for the feedback. Nice e-mail address! 🙂

      Most of the time people complain about blogs which only talk about their own products. You’re wishing that I would only talk about Unitrends products and quit talking so much about Symantec Backup Exec 3600 and Netbackup 5520 and Backup Exec 2012 products, right?

      I hear you. And yet, what I find is that many backup vendors spend so much time focused inward that they miss doing right by their customers by focusing outward – both on their customers and on their competitors.

      But beyond that – I get more e-mail about Symantec than any other competitor. More than CommVault, Tivoli (TSM), Avamar, and Networker combined. With or without the blog. And the reason of course is that Symantec didn’t just grow it’s “brand” (is that a fancy way of saying bought Backup Exec in 2005 and we should buy another backup vendor? 🙂 but it’s grown its revenue to the point that it has the largest market share – by far.

      What would you rather hear about?

  2. I’d like to hear more about the steps on how you plan to be the next market leader. I know you have a good product, and that it’s priced competitively, and you displace many of the larger players in the space. That being said, it just comes off as a bit juvenile that you clearly feel the constant need to attack Symantec.

    You may not think you are, it just comes off as petty when so many of your blog headlines seem to be “This is how we’re better than Symantec”. You are a company that has been around in the space for 20 plus years now. I can understand where you may feel that you are not recognized for what it is that you do as much as some of your competitors, but that doesn’t mean that the majority of your recent blogs need to be thinly veiled attacks.

    I would think as the CTO of the company your focus would be to continue the improvement and ease of usability (which is already quite good) of your product. I just don’t think time focused at competitors in a negative way is going to do any good for your brand or it’s the product itself.

  3. Justnoticing: I absolutely hear you. Over at Spiceworks, I talked about some of the major points raised there; I included the text below.

    >>[Tim7139] Mark’s reply misses the point. It’s OK to talk about Symantec, but the insults and teasing are trying and detracting. […] When we talks about BE dropping Unix, a growing space, and does not call them stinky doo doo heads I’m almost proud. He tells me what they did, he told me his perspective – 10/10. Referencing your competitor is a difficult line to walk, it’s easy to alienate people.<< Tim - I hear you - and thanks for calling out about my missing the point and "trying and detracting" - I appreciate it. There's a part of me that wants to be kind of defensive here - but I think noting that I'm not calling folks "stinky doo doo head" is amazingly funny and pretty much tears down any defenses I might have tried to put up. 🙂 I think that there are two problems. I think part of what endears some folks to Unitrends is that the company isn't some marketing engine wrapped around a little bit of technology. We don't have a million people doing marketing and product management - we try to spend our money improving the product - and in fact, while I'm an executive at the company, I also write software for the product in my off-hours. So a lot of times we come across as what we are - about of folks excited about backup (and more importantly, recovery.) I don't write blog posts on an editorial calendar, I write them based on what I'm reading about when I wake up in the morning and what I think might be interesting for others. I also write them to try to be interesting - and completely understand that sometimes I *completely* fail at that. But I don't try to write stuff that everyone will agree with - or even that everyone will like - I try to write stuff that is interesting - and of course try to make these things as interesting as I can. But because of Symantec's Vision conference and the controversey about the new user interface and the deprecated features, for the last few weeks I've read about that. When I read something that gets me excited, I write about it. I don't think about it showing up on Spiceworks, or LinkedIn, or whatever - I actually tend to think about people doing Google searches for the next bazillion years and finding one of these articles and learning something new about it. I'm obviously now going to think a LOT harder about that from now on. Now - without being defensive - a note about why I got ***so*** excited about all of this. Scott used the Intel/AMD example - and he's dead on - I'll use a more down to earth example. Imagine that you believe that - heck, I don't know - puppeteering - is the greatest art form in the history of mankind. But there's a guy down the street that constantly is telling the world that anyone who thinks puppetering is great is a - well - a "stinky doo doo head." Then one day, the guy down the street starts doing puppet shows - and claims to have invented puppet shows. You'd probably experience some cognative dissonance. I think that cognative dissonance is what led to some of the more "aggressive" lines. But again - message received - thanks for the feedback. If you think I'm still missing the point - or just plain wrong - I'd sure like to hear about it.

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