The new trust factor: Cohesity technologist sees big picture in partnership with Microsoft
If there is a glue that binds two companies seeking to make advances in the hybrid computing space together, it is trust.
Customers must trust the companies have the right solutions to solve complex issues that are part of the hybrid world today, and the tech providers have to trust that a partnership will yield positive business results on both sides.
Such is the nature of today’s relationship between Cohesity Inc. and Microsoft Corp., a partnership between two companies that have each ventured down the path of transition. Cohesity has been focused on transitioning to a software-only model, and Microsoft has taken great pains to move from a Windows-based proprietary desktop software platform into the bold new world of open-source and cloud.
“I do see a lot of enterprise customers trusting what Microsoft is doing,” said Theresa Miller (pictured), Microsoft MVP and principal technologist at Cohesity. “When there have been issues in the past, they’ve always been very forthcoming about it and transparency does go a long way for the customer. I’ve seen a lot of stability out of the products and a lot of enhancements and improvement across the board that create that trust that companies want.”
Miller spoke with Stu Miniman (@stu) and Rebecca Knight (@knightrm), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Microsoft Ignite event in Orlando, Florida. They discussed Microsoft’s engagement program with developers, Cohesity’s hybrid solutions strategy in concert with the Azure cloud, the need for customers to have single source data management visibility, and lessons Miller has learned in balancing her work and personal life (see the full interview with transcript here). (* Disclosure below.)
This week, theCUBE features Theresa Miller as our Guest of the Week.
Community of 4,000 leaders
Miller occupies a convenient position of being able to closely observe the transformation taking place in both companies. As a Microsoft MVP, or Most Valuable Professional, Miller belongs to a community of technology experts with deep knowledge of the company’s products and services. And as a Cohesity executive, Miller is also at the center of Cohesity’s transition to software-only and the continued evolution of its hybrid strategy.
Participation as a Microsoft MVP allows Miller to interact within a community of over 4,000 tech knowledge leaders, spread across 90 countries. There are now 11 award or specialty categories for MVPs, with Microsoft adding artificial intelligence and Office Apps over the past two years.
The categories, which also include enterprise mobility, data platform, and data center management, illustrate Microsoft’s purposeful emphasis under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella since 2014 on cultivating developers and information-technology professionals.
“Being a part of the MVP program is really a pretty spectacular thing,” Miller said. “It does take a lot of work and commitment. It really is about helping others, teaching others and being involved.”
Familiarity with Microsoft’s products and services can certainly help Cohesity as it transitions to a software-only model. After its founding in 2013, the company spent its early days offering an appliance-based hyperconverged secondary data-protection solution.
With last year’s introduction of Helios, a software-as-a-service-based secondary data and application management platform, Cohesity signaled its commitment to a software-centric world. The company has since positioned the solution as a way to protect data in a broad portfolio of products, including those within the Microsoft Office 365 family.
Cohesity and Microsoft have also partnered on a solution designed to assist customers grappling with the migration of legacy data. Cohesity’s CloudSpin was introduced in 2018 to make it easier for developers to convert backup data for use in the cloud, and the tool can help with legacy migrations from SQL Server 2008.
“I’m very excited to talk to companies about CloudSpin that will help take advantage of 2008 servers’ end of life,” Miller said. “Microsoft has a nice program that will allow customers to stick with their 2008 servers if they go to the cloud, and we can help them get there, as well as protecting their Azure workloads.”
First and only acquisition
It is interesting to note that in today’s acquisition-happy tech market, Cohesity has only made one purchase in its five-year history. It bought Imanis Data Inc., an enterprise backup and data management firm for distributed databases, earlier this year.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Imanis brought with it an already-established relationship with Microsoft. The firm’s software was placed on Microsoft Azure HDInsight in 2017, and Imanis expanded that support a year later with the announcement of data-aware cloud migration support.
The Imanis acquisition gave its new parent a machine-learning, single-pane approach to data management that, when combined with Cohesity’s DataPlatform, broke down infrastructure silos for Hadoop and NoSQL workloads.
“If you try to piece it together, you’re not going to have a single solution to manage everything; you’re going to have a kind of confusing mess,” Miller explained. “Having a single solution to help support that hybrid journey is a big deal.”
There are signs that Cohesity’s approach is beginning to pay off. The company released metrics in October that showed that software revenues in fiscal year 2019 had increased 100% and the volume of seven figure orders grew 350% year-over-year.
Avoiding IT burnout
When a growing company like Cohesity taps its own enterprise gold mine when dancing with significant partners like Microsoft, life and career can blend into one. Miller knows this quite well, having experienced job burnout at one point and learning how to adjust the hard way.
It’s a subject Miller is quite willing to discuss, and she led a panel of fellow Microsoft MVPs in an examination of IT burnout during Ignite 2019. In a lengthy blog post on the subject, written only a few months ago, Miller described how she couldn’t let go from thinking about work or disconnect from email while on vacation with her family.
“Weekend texts, phone calls, social media, and email at all hours of the day means that we need to work hard to take our personal lives back,” Miller wrote in July. “If we do not make the conscious effort to separate from work, we won’t. We should work to live, not live to work.”
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Microsoft Ignite event. (* Disclosure: Cohesity Inc. sponsored coverage of Microsoft Ignite, and some segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE are sponsored. Sponsors have no editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)
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