Avamar Appoints New CEO

In a bid to advance the business, Avamar hires Ed Walsh, formerly of CNT

June 7, 2005

3 Min Read
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Avamar Inc. wants a bigger slice of the disk backup pie, and management has hired a new CEO with plenty of sales know-how to help things along.

Ed Walsh, formerly senior VP of worldwide sales, marketing, and alliances at Computer Network Technology Corp. (CNT) (Nasdaq: CMNT), concedes Avamar's been weak getting its message across. "Avamar is in a very good position. Getting the news out is a challenge," Walsh says.

There are whispers that some on the executive team, including former CEO Kevin Daly, weren't getting the news out. Now, Walsh, as well as new VP of sales Scott Bledsoe, aim to change that. Bledsoe, hired in February, is a former VP of sales for gaming technology and systems provider SDG, which merged with a larger company in 2004.

Their task won't be easy. Avamar, some say, suffers a double whammy: First, it's surrounded by a sea of competitors, including ATTO Technology Inc., BlueArc Corp., ExaGrid Systems Inc., Nexsan Technologies Inc., Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL), and Xyratex Ltd. (Nasdaq: XRTX), to name just a few. Second, its message is a hard sell.

"From a product perspective, they have an incredible, unique gem," says Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group consultancy. "But it's not a product that you can smoothly put in. You have to rethink your backup-and-restore from scratch." Since it replaces many replication and backup utilities instead of simply working with them as do VTL products, he says, it's often tough to get companies to take a chance on Avamar. "In terms of marketing and selling, they have a lot of work to do."Walsh is aware of the barriers to his company's entry. "There's a clutter of backup-to-disk products that don't hit at the real problem, just the symptom," he says. "The process has to change."

Late last year, Avamar claimed at least 40 customers, including Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT), MCI Inc. (Nasdaq: MCIP), and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM). (See Top Ten Private Companies: Winter 2004, page 6.) Its patented technique, called "commonality factoring," reduces the space and bandwidth required for backups by tracking metadata and sending along only what is changed. It can, Walsh says, reduce backup capacity requirements dramatically.

In an odd twist, Avamar hasn't joined the roster of claimants to continuous data protection (CDP), even though it meets more of the criteria than some other players, since it is capable of backing up only changes. But an Avamar spokesman says the company has resisted selling its wares as CDP because the lowest level of granularity for backups is hourly.

Walsh clearly has his work cut out. Though he says the 70-employee company won't seek more funding, it's clear there's more work to be done in getting traction toward profitability. A version 3.5 of Avamar's Axion product slated for December could help, though it won't be a dramatic revision of existing wares.

Walsh's experience at CNT could help. Also, prior to CNT, he was co-founder and VP of field operations at Articulent, a data management systems integrator and consulting company. And in the 1980s, he worked at EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC).

Figure 1: Ed Walsh, CEO, Avamar

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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