Vision ‘Laser Focused’ On IBM i And Power Following Double-Take Sale
February 6, 2017 Alex Woodie
Vision Solutions is now free to spend more time and energy building solutions for its core IBM i and Power Systems customer base now that it has sold Double-Take and the Windows high availability business to Carbonite for $65 million, executives with the company tell IT Jungle.
“It’s hard to divide the brain between two technologies that require a lot of attention, and they both required a ton of attention,” Vision Solutions executive vice president and chief technology officer Alan Arnold said. “Instead of dividing our time, our time can be focused like a laser with what we need to do with IBM.”
Vision bought Double-Take in May 2010 for $242 million in a bid to diversify its portfolio of high availability software. Its product, called Double-Take Availability, utilized a storage-based data replication scheme to protect applications and data running on Windows servers – a fundamentally different approach than the logical data replication scheme used by Vision’s various IBM i HA products, including MIMX, iTera HA, and ODS/OMS, the legacy Vision product.
The ball stated rolling on the Double-Take sale during a strategic planning meeting about 18 months ago – before Thoma Bravo sold Vision to Clearlake Capital in a private equity deal in May 2016 – and it just started making more and more sense, according to Edward Vesely, the chief marketing officer for the Irvine, California-based company.
“The channels are quite different and certainly the product sets are,” Vesely said. “One is serving largely a Microsoft ecosystem and the other IBM. This now enables us to go back to our core and better service the Power community and enable the Double-Take product to flourish in a Windows and more open systems environment.”
The Double-Take product, including about 6,000 Double-Take customers and the company’s employees, appear to have found a good home in Carbonite, which has quietly expanded its target market over the years. Carbonite started out selling Windows backup services to consumers and small business. With last year’s acquisition of cloud backup provider EVault for $14 million, Carbonite began targeting larger businesses. And now with Double-Take, it has a more compelling business resiliency solution to offer to companies running critical applications on Windows Servers.
“We went through a process in looking for the right spot” for the Double-Take business, Arnold said. “Carbonite came up early in that process. I’m very pleased with everything I’ve seen….We were very close [with the Double-Take employees]. They were teammates of ours for a long period of time. We’ll remain friends.”
Vision’s new strategy will hinge on its dominant position in the IBM i high availability software space, and to a lesser extent on its position in the market for high availability solutions for AIX and data sharing solutions for Power Systems, Linux, and Windows servers. While Vision sold AIX HA and Linux data sharing solutions under the Double-Take name, those solutions didn’t use Double-Take code or intellectual property. Vision will soon re-brand those AIX HA and Linux data sharing solutions under the familiar MIMIX name. Basically Vision is rebranding two products to MIMIX:
- Double-Take for AIX becomes MIMIX for AIX (this is an HA product)
- Double-Take Share becomes MIMIX Share (this is a cross-platform data sharing product for IBM i, AIX, Linux and Windows)
It is not clear where Vision goes next. One of the first product announcements in the post-Double-Take era will involve the data replication and transformation technology, dubbed MIMIX Share. The company has many large customers using the software to transfer data from source machines, like Oracle RAC and SQL Server databases, onto IBM i servers, and vice versa. Such solutions are becoming increasingly important for data warehousing and big data analytic projects.
Beyond that, the Vision execs were a bit cagey about possible new product directions or acquisition targets, which is not surprising. But one thing is certain: it will involve acquisitions. When the company changed hands in the equity deal last year, new owner Clearlake Capital was not shy about sharing its vision of using Vision Solutions as an M&A platform.
“There are other opportunities in the Power space and other products and other spaces that we’re not in today,” Arnold said, “but I will tell you and give you an exclusive when we get to that point of companies we’re looking at acquiring that we think are going to add to our portfolio of products and make us even that much more competitive in the market.”
Vesely echoed that sentiment. “We’re doubling down on Power. We have a very aggressive growth strategy, both through acquisition and also with organic growth,” he said. “We’re all optimistic that what IBM is doing with Cognitive Systems will play into that growth story… We’re aligned with large distributors like Sirius and we’re going to market in a very aggressive way right now.”
Whatever the new products or acquisitions bring, there will still be a core focus on resiliency, Arnold said. “Resiliency covers so many things in the infrastructure that we’re going to be focused on,” he said. “It’s still going to be focused on infrastructure environments.”
The growing complexity of IBM i storage environments is one target that’s clearly on Vision’s agenda. As IBM i shops adopt new storage arrays, like DS8000s, Storwize systems, and Flash-based storage, it’s become more difficult to assure resiliency of core infrastructure and the applications and data that run on them.
“Stay tuned for announcements this year in that area. We have some big ones coming up, things we’re working on with all of those storage units and flash storage and all those kinds of things,” Arnold said. “That’s where the majority of our customers are. We’ve had the who’s who of customers out there, and we’re working with them on very strategic initiatives – faster, bigger, scaling up, scaling out.”
“There are much more complex environments with all the different types of storage available and the different operating systems available,” he continued. “Those are things we’re going to be focused on and have been focused on, but now we’re going to be laser-focused in on those with IBM, to help bring those solutions to the market.”
For the record, Vision did not make out as badly on the $65 million sale of Double-Take to Carbonite as some news stories have suggested. While it is true that Vision bought Double-Take for $242 million in 2010, that deal included $97 million in cash in Double-Take’s bank account. “That was money we were able to take in, so the net was $145 million, which is a far cry from $242 million,” Vesely said, adding that over the past six years, Vision realized a fair amount of earnings before taxes from Double-Take operations. “And so the picture is far more positive than most of the posts and reports that I’ve seen.”