Vision Solutions CEO on Double-Take: 'Virtualization is exciting' for us

Vision Solutions executives say further development of the Double-Take brand will focus on virtualization and extending their high availability and disaster recovery products to the Windows and Linux worlds.

Vision Solutions completed its $242 million acquisition of Double-Take Software this week. The deal brings Double-Take's disaster recovery and high-availability software for Windows and Linux into Vision's product portfolio alongside its disaster recovery and high-availability software for IBM Power Series, AIX and AS 400 platforms. We spoke with Vision Solutions CEO Nicolaas Vlok and CTO Alan Arnold about their plans for Double-Take under the Vision banner.

SearchDisasterRecovery: How will Double-Take be integrated with Vision Solutions? Will it be a separate division, a subsidiary or fully integrated within Vision?

Vlok: Double-Take will be fully integrated into our operations -- the back offices, support, marketing and ultimate field operations as far as sales go will be integrated.

SearchDisasterRecovery: What about branding?

Vlok: The company name of Double-Take will be changed to Vision Solutions. The products will remain named Double-Take Availability, Double-Take Move, and so on. And some of our Vision products such as EchoStream [continous data protection (CDP) software] and EchoCluster [high availability/DR] will be changed to Double-Take for AIX. Our AIX replication product will become Double-Take Share. So we're consolidating corporate branding and maintaining the Double-Take brand, and some of the lesser known Vision products will take the Double-Take name.

SearchDisasterRecovery: Will Double-Take keep its Massachusetts office or move to Vision headquarters in Irvine, California?

Vlok: We're maintaining their facility with well over 200 people. We're approaching this transaction as a growth opportunity. It gives us a significantly larger market in terms of high-availability solutions. We intend to grow the Double-Take product set and we'll need to retain good people. We'll expand distribution and invest in product technology.

 Virtualization is here to stay, and it's up to us to define where we will play in it in the long term.
Nicolaas Vlok
CEOVision Solutions

Arnold:: Historically, we've acquired four companies over the last five years and left all those development support centers as they were.

SearchDisasterRecovery: What about Double-Take executives?

Vlok: CEO Dean [Goodermote] will be leaving. The rest of the team is integrating into the Vision team. We'll have more details on that in three weeks or so.

SearchDisasterRecovery: How much will your addressable market grow with Double-Take?

Vlok: Vision historically plays in the IBM midrange segment for IBM Power systems on the AIX Unix and AS400 platforms. The Windows world is significantly larger. It probably more than doubles the Vision addressable market long-term. And that's just Windows, that doesn't include Linux.

We've been a Double-Take partner for around six years. It's not an unknown environment for us.

SearchDisasterRecovery: So why buy Double-Take instead of continuing to resell its software?

Vlok: If you're a distributor, you're not reselling your own technology. We can't be a vendor that provides an high-availability solution cross most major platforms in the data center if we don't own the technology. Today we own it, we control the product direction, we can invest, and we have single interfaces for products in the future. We have a much more cohesive solution.

Arnold:: We don't have a Linux product today in the IBM world, and Linux is one of the fastest growing segments. We can take Linux from the Intel base at Double-Take and bring it to our customer base in Power systems. On the other side, we see many companies with Power systems with lots of Intel and this allows us to talk to customers we haven't spoken to before. For customers that have integrated these technologies in their shops, we can bring them products nobody else has today."

SearchDisasterRecovery: Are there any parts of the Double-Take platform you expect to expand or add, or get rid of?

Vlok: We're determining that now. Over the next two weeks we'll spend a lot of time with the Double-Take people and look at our investment strategy, where we would like to invest more or less. I would say virtualization as a whole is a very exciting opportunity for Vision Solutions long-term. Not just Windows, but also Linux and Power systems. We think it's something we will continue to be aggressively part of, going forward.

SearchDisasterRecovery: Virtualization area where there is a lot of competition, including from some of the features built into VMware itself. What needs to be done to stay ahead of the curve there?

Vlok: There will be increased development to stay ahead of the virtualization trend. Double-Take has done some work, but given our experience in the virtual world in Power systems and where they've mapped out their next product releases, that will be a good nexus of things to come. Virtualization is here to stay, and it's up to us to define where we will play in it in the long term. There's a role for software like ours to play, and you need to define the value proposition for customers. We can get sharper and create some interesting partnerships with Double-Take.

 SearchDisasterRecovery: Double-Take's overall revenue decreased 13.6% last year. It only grew a modest 3.9% in the first quarter of this year, and it lost money. What needs to be done to jumpstart the business?

Vlok: Double-Take took a fair number of punches as it relates to revenue. But start peeling away the onion, and you see the reasons. They are best known in the midmarket and SMB market, and that market took the global economic problems a lot harder than the enterprise. The SMB market just dried up on them in a bigger way than they expected. You can clearly see in the Double-Take business that their number of deals went down, the average deal size shrunk, and there were less large deals. They took the recession harder than a company that's more focused on the midmarket and above, but they weathered the storm. I'm less concerned about Double-Take long-term than if I were just reading their financials.

We see it as more of a blip than a long-term trend. We were fortunate that we have a strong enterprise business. We're about 65% enterprise, where on the Double-Take side it's just the opposite. It's not going to be a fast rebound of the SMB market, but I believe companies will start to invest again within two or three years.

Arnold:: We are experts at enterprise high availability and working with big companies. Eighty percent of the Global 500 is running Vision Solutions products today, and those companies are not all running Double-Take. We have the ability through our distribution with system integrators and partners to bring Double-Take products into these accounts and get them enterprise-ready if they need work. I don't think they do.


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