RESEARCH NOTE: On The Road With Cloudera, Qualcomm, and Veeam

By Robert Kramer - December 5, 2023
Travel offers unique perspectives on business challenges.

Over the past month, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of work travel, from the challenges of airport navigation, delays, inedible food, and uncomfortable flights to productive opportunities for learning new technologies, understanding customers, and making new contacts. This time, I attended Cloudera’s Evolve 2023 event in New York City, visited a Qualcomm team in Manchester, U.K., to discuss global branding initiatives and participated in Veeam’s annual Analyst Summit in Seattle. Although these three companies provide distinct products and solutions, they all focus on data in some way. In this article I’ll explore the role of data for Cloudera, Qualcomm, and Veeam, setting the stage for future discussions on how data management enhances organizational success.

Visit to New York City — Cloudera

My trips to New York are usually memorable, and Cloudera’s annual Evolve customer event certainly qualified. Cloudera, which was founded in 2008, is based in Santa Clara, California, and specializes in data management and analytics through its Cloudera Data Platform. The company’s growth is impressive, and its platform supports multiple aspects of the data lifecycle, including collection, enrichment, analysis, and predictive modeling, to help businesses gain insights and make informed decisions. The company’s hybrid data platform allows managing data across private and public clouds and on-premises, providing seamless access to data irrespective of location.

I had the opportunity to interact with several key executives at the event, which ties to one of the pleasures of attending such gatherings—hearing the passion from business leaders firsthand. The recently appointed CEO of Cloudera, Charles Sansbury, shared with me his insights on assuming leadership and his vision for the company. What stood out to me was his overall enthusiasm, his passion for customers, and his understanding of the need for change and the critical importance of driving innovation. In particular, Sansbury discussed how data can help customers with more intelligence, specifically via Cloudera’s approach to hybrid data and its infrastructure that powers AI applications. Since most of Cloudera’s customers have data both on-premises and in private or public clouds, Cloudera’s hybrid approach brings together client data, for example to enable tuning LLMs for greater results. While there are complexities along the way to achieving those results, the value that the data provides in terms of accessibility and intelligence for organizations can be remarkable.

At the event, Cloudera highlighted new data management features that it says are essential for generative AI development, especially on-premises. This continued the theme that Sansbury had introduced of data management influencing AI. The company also touted the Cloudera Data Platform as a true hybrid cloud solution with a vast repository in its Iceberg data lake, which manages over 25 exabytes of data. To put that in perspective, one exabyte is the equivalent of 1.6 trillion printed books. This ability to handle large data volumes, coupled with the company’s emphasis on data transformation, integration, and governance, puts Cloudera in a strong position for advancing generative AI and improving both private and public data models.

One example is a pharmaceutical client of Cloudera’s that is innovating its data systems, both on-premises and in a hybrid cloud, by transforming structured and unstructured data with the help of  generative AI. Given that an estimated 90% of enterprise data is unstructured, with 60% stored on-premises, accessing it can be an uphill battle. This data includes various content formats such as documents, PDFs, videos, images, and audio clips. Managing this type of data in traditional databases or organizing it into rows and columns is challenging due to its diverse and complex nature.

By indexing content in Cloudera’s data lake, the pharmaceutical client can associate specific organic compounds with their effects on certain genes. This knowledge helps identify potential treatments for rare diseases, which are often overlooked in research due to low profit potential. By using this data, many compounds have been identified that might affect genes linked to these diseases. The pharmaceutical client is now testing drugs safe for humans on specific genes, which could lead to new treatments for rare diseases, potentially saving lives. Essentially, this is information that the pharmaceutical client could never have imagined accessing before. The transformation is key for enabling the company to use its data effectively and advancing in generative AI, especially for complex, multivariate models.

This is a good example of why hybrid data management systems are valuable, particularly for making use of unstructured data stored on-premises. Beyond that, more than 80% of companies store their corporate data in a hybrid approach. Generally, companies are storing more data using these systems early on, which in the context of AI can contribute to the development of advanced language models over time. There are definitely challenges to be faced along the way, including high costs and the need for solid evidence to support investments. Cloudera is working to demonstrate AI progress as it collaborates with its technology partners to overcome these challenges.

Visit to Manchester, U.K. — Qualcomm

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the U.K., even living in London while I earned my MBA. Returning to England brings back fond memories, particularly when I’m enjoying a pint. During my Manchester visit last month, I attended a Qualcomm analyst meeting, where the company highlighted sports marketing strategies for its Snapdragon brand. Many of you know Qualcomm, a leading wireless technology manufacturer founded in 1985 and based in San Diego. Qualcomm is known for its semiconductors and Snapdragon chipsets, which are staples in mobile computing, networking, and telecommunications. Qualcomm plays a significant role in the evolution of connected devices, AI, and IoT, contributing substantially to the digital transformation landscape.

My experience in Manchester was truly unique and one that many people—especially soccer fans—dream of. I received an invitation to explore behind the scenes at Manchester United Football Club thanks to Qualcomm’s newly established partnership with the club. The visit didn’t disappoint, featuring a tour of the legendary Old Trafford stadium, originally built as a cricket ground in 1854. It has since transformed into a beautifully renovated architectural venue for football matches, including the nostalgic Stretford End of the stands. The highlight was watching Manchester United triumph over Luton Town with a one-nil victory in a Premier League match. Additionally, visiting the training facilities at Carrington was remarkable, offering a glimpse into where young talents such as Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford began their careers.

Manchester United has partnered with Qualcomm to showcase the Snapdragon brand and its technology platform at Old Trafford. Strategically, this collaboration heightens Snapdragon’s brand visibility and, once all the pieces are in place, it will allow Manchester United to offer its fans a new technology platform with better connectivity and novel experiences both in the stadium and elsewhere.

Visit to Seattle — Veeam Software

My last stop took me to Seattle with its beautiful water views and natural surroundings. Veeam Software, although a leader in its industry, might be unfamiliar to some. Established in 2006 and headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, the company specializes in backup, disaster recovery, and data management solutions, catering to both cloud and on-premises environments. It also has a strategic office in Seattle, which the other analysts and I were given the opportunity to explore.

Its flagship product, Veeam Backup & Replication, provides comprehensive protection for various workloads. Veeam’s data archiving ensures secure storage, long-term retention and compliance with regulations. The company’s integration of AI functionality, similar to its competitors, enhances features such as early malware detection and proactive threat hunting combined with reporting to ServiceNow, minimizing risks to client data. Veeam also develops specialized products such as Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and Kubernetes, which is popular across healthcare, finance, education, and government sectors for its reliability and ease of use.

At the event, Veeam emphasized its customer-centric approach by rolling out a new data protection initiative focused on better products, improved service and testing, continuous releases, and greater accountability. This “Radical Resilience” campaign emphasizes customer success and the ability to bounce forward, and it is designed to help companies recover from outages or data loss. It concentrates on speeding up the recovery process from data disruptions to help customer companies maintain business growth and forward momentum.

In its pursuit of radical resilience, Veeam has set specific requirements for itself, such as striving to be an industry leader, continually innovating, and cultivating a mutual commitment between the company and its employees. This approach is backed by Veeam’s Cyber Secure Program, which combines the company’s technology and in-house expertise to help customers recover using clean, reliable backups in the event of a ransomware attack.

Throughout the event, I sensed strong passion and enthusiasm from the management team. Veeam revealed some of its specific plans for 2024, including enhancements to the Veeam Data Platform and continued development of its ecosystem through its extensive partner program.

In one customer example, The City of Victoria in British Columbia upgraded its backup capability using Veeam’s data management solutions, which improved not only backup but also disaster recovery and security against ransomware. Veeam also enhanced the city’s control over its Microsoft Office 365 data. In another example, Rabobank used Veeam’s Availability Suite for its global banking operations, protecting 12,500 VMs and various workloads for business continuity while also deploying an immutable backup system for ransomware protection. This resulted in faster backup and recovery times, cutting Rabobank’s annual data protection licensing costs from Veeam by half.

To catch up with my analysis of other companies in this space, please refer to the following: Cohesity, Rubrik, and Commvault.

Wrap-Up

The past month was jam-packed with travel, unique experiences, meeting quality people, and learning about new innovations. Besides hearing about how Cloudera, Qualcomm, and Veeam plan to influence the marketplace in 2024, I got a better sense of the personalities of the different companies. Understanding the unique capabilities of Cloudera, Qualcomm, and Veeam, I think that each of them is an important player in this data-driven era because they help organizations to realize the potential of their data assets.

It’s only when a company progresses beyond discussing data to understanding and harnessing its full potential that it can leverage data effectively and create a competitive edge. In a prior article, I elaborated on the influence of enterprise data technology, focusing on structuring and fully utilizing your data. Data management is about strategically organizing your data to access, protect, govern, integrate, and transform it, aligning with your business objectives. Stay tuned for more travels, insights and data innovations.

VP & Principal Analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy | + posts

Robert Kramer is vice president and principal analyst covering enterprise data, including data management, databases, data lakes, data observability, data analytics, and data protection. Robert has over 30 years of proven experience with startups, IT companies, global marketing, detailed strategies, business modeling, and planning, working with enterprise companies, GTM assets, management, and execution.