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Exclusive: Veeam boss talks DX - and why reacting is not enough

By Heather Wright, 10 Nov 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

To say that Veeam president and COO Peter McKay is bullish about the company’s future could be something of an understatement.

McKay, who took over the top job nine months ago from founder Ratmir Timashev, is charged with making the company into the billion dollar unicorn it has publicly stated it intends to be by 2019.

But McKay, who is currently in Australia on a whirlwind business trip, is clearly looking bigger - in the course of a 30 minute interview, he refers several times to Veeam becoming a $2 billion to $3 billion company.

And his goals for the Australian and New Zealand markets aren’t small either.

“We’re hitting in the 60% year over year growth, and we still see a major opportunity for us to grow a much bigger part of this market,” McKay says.

Nine months into the top role, McKay - who previously headed up VMware’s America’s business and has been CEO of several other companies - says he’s accelerating Veeam’s strategies.

The ‘always on availability’ vendor, which started in SMB, then moved into commercial and cloud, is now tackling the enterprise market using the same strategies it applied to its initial markets: seed the market, get in the door and then upsell.

“Although we are segmenting three different markets, the approach and what made us successful in SMB and now in commercial is the same approach we’re taking in enterprise: Get in throughout the organisation, in any way shape or form, in those different use cases, whether it be replacing legacy vendors or greenfield new applications they are rolling out.

“Be successful and then allow it to expand throughout the organisation.”

Veeam’s ambition is being aided by digital transformation currently taking place globally.

“There is a lot of shifting going on in the market. The digital transformation from cloud and social are all changing the dynamic of what we call this always on availability.

“As companies are building more and more of their business around digital, that is requiring the need for much more of always on availability,” he says.

“As companies leverage more of the digital world and the markets become more and more connected, the need for those applications to be always connected, always online, always able to access your applications and your data no matter where you are or what you’re doing, is becoming more and more critical.”

He cites the example of Norwegian Cruise Line, which had digitised everything on its ships from reservations, scheduling excursions and even cabin access, with two IT staff covering the entire ship.

“That’s phenomenal. What a difference it makes for the whole experience, compared to the competition.

“Then you think, ‘holy cow, if that ever went down what that would mean to the business when your ship is all run by these applications and the massive amount of data that they’re storing about what people are doing and where they’re going that they’re able to accumulate.

“That just can’t go down.

“That’s that new world that we want to be part of and we want to be a key component of that digital transformation to the companies,” McKay says.

“[Digital transformation] has presented a fantastic opportunity for us to capitalise on and we are investing aggressively, especially in Australia and New Zealand, to really take advantage of this mature market and this transformation to cloud and social and other technologies that are really modifying the business landscape.”

He says for many companies being ‘always on’ was ‘kind of an after thought, just like they looked at security three or four years ago’.

“[But] more and more companies are seeing that availability, that need to always be on as part of every day life is crucial.

“It shouldn’t take your system to go down and be out for 24 hours before you realise you need to have 24/7/365 availability.”

So why is it still an after thought for some? McKay says ‘new world’ companies, who are working in an agile world of innovation and iteration, ‘get it’.

“But on the old world - or legacy side - I think it is a cost and complexity issue.

“When you look at a lot of the traditional legacy backup, replication, the traditional companies, they were developed in the 80s, early 90s and so it was a different world. It was based more for server backups, desktop backups.

“Now the world is highly virtualised especially in the ANZ market which has the highest rate of virtualisation in any place around the world.

“The need for more current technology that is simpler and more cost effective is now opening up opportunities that didn’t exist before in how they take a legacy application and modernise it to the always on availability market.”

He says replacing legacy solutions is an area where Veeam is seeing ‘significant’ growth.

“We see over the next two years a phenomenal opportunity to replace that complexity with a much more simpler, cost effective solution.”

McKay says we truly are in a time of ‘disrupt or be disrupted’.

“And it’s happening at such a pace that it is going to be a different world five years from now that it is today.”

So, after spending nine months looking at digital transformation around the globe, does McKay have any tips on how to prevent being ‘uber-ed’?

“A lot of the time companies are afraid of cannibalising their own business. A lot of companies are worried about the change and disruption that this will cause to the business. And people fight change. No matter what company you are, change is uncomfortable and it can be disruptive.

“For a lot of companies change is a way of life these days and it’s changing at a rapid pace and it needs to be more of a culture that change is happening and you need to make that a strength rather than a weakness.

“Where companies are resistant to change it is preventing them from taking advantage of the internet of things, the digitisation, the whole changing of the business model where technology is a revenue generator, it’s a channel, it’s a new market, it’s allowing you to be faster and more agile than ever before,” he says.

Instead, he urges companies to capitalise on change and leverage it as a strength.

“In a lot of cases if you’re reacting to it you’re probably already dead.”

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