Interview: Ratmir Timashev, CEO of Veeam
By   |  September 09, 2015

In 2018, we plan to reach a billion dollars in revenue...

Veeam is the leading company specializing in backup software for virtualized environments. On the occasion of his visit to Paris, HPC Review interviewed its CEO Ratmir Timashev.

HPC Review: Can you describe your background?

Ratmir Timashev: Before founding Veeam, I founded the company Aelita, specializing in Windows Server management solutions, Active Directory and Exchange. Aelita was sold to Quest in 2004 for $115 million. I left Quest Software in 2005 to start a new business, Veeam which I co-founded in 2006 with my associate Baronovin with a simple concept, but a precursor for the time: provide systems management solutions for virtualized server infrastructure and so take advantage of the still emerging trend at the time, consisting in virtualized work environments based on VMware GSX and ESX.

HPC: How did you come to position yourself as early on the only emerging area of virtualization?

RT: My partner and I have studied the market for a year, and we realized that virtualization began to take the form of a trend. In 2006, after founding Veeam, we listened companies to understand their needs and started showing a prototype of our solution that we made evolve accordingly. It took us a year and a half of development before launching our first product in 2008. In six years, our turnover has reached 275 million, of which 90% came from our flagship product, Veeam Backup & Replication.

HPC: besides the corporate feedback, did you have other indicators of the emergence of virtualization?

RT: Yes. By 2006, 69 percent of US companies had implemented virtualized environments. Another indicator was the growing success of VMware. So it appeared logical and relevant to focus on this sector that had concrete needs around the management and backup of virtualized infrastructure and no simple alternative to expensive and proprietary solutions.

HPC: How did Veeam’s software offer evolve over time?

RT: Veeam has developed a range of solutions for modern data protection specifically for virtualization and we have extended this approach to the cloud with our Veeam Cloud Connector, designed for Data Center and Cloud Service Providers. This from a simple finding related to the evolution of the market: Virtualization is now the new standard for enterprise data center – it is the norm rather than the niche.

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HPC: To what factors do you attribute your business success?

RT: We have a remarkable annual growth of our turnover from 62% in 2012 and 58% in 2013 and just crossed half a billion dollars in yearly revenue. We are rapidly gaining market share over the major established players in the enterprise backup such as CommVault and Symantec. We gain more than 3,000 new customers a month. At this rate, I plan to cross the billion dollars in sales in less than three years, in 2018.

HPC: Do you define the strategic direction of the company’s development by yourself?

RT: Almost. We are two, with my partner Andrei, who is a scientist and brilliant technologist coupled with an outstanding businessman. It is at the heart of the definition of our products, and resolving development problems encountered along the way. We met when we were 18 years old at high school. We grew up together. Science had become a prestigious profession in Russia when we received our undergraduate degrees in the 80s.

HPC: What characterizes your products and sets them apart from the competition?

RT: Besides the intrinsic qualities of our software in which we firmly believe, because it is the intersection of a continuous observation of competition and new ideas that we develop continuously, we distinguish two approaches. The first concerns a decision we made early on, namely an extremely short iterative development cycle of about three to six months. The second element relates to the method of dissemination, inspired from the video game: freemium. We are convinced of the quality of our software, and offer them for free and unlimited. The most advanced features are of course available in paid versions, but we have seen the benefits of this distribution channel, which does as much to convince our customers than our standard business practices.

HPC: You recently released a software that backups physical machines. For what reason ?

RT: The reputation of our software in virtualized environments is at its cusp. We decided to extend the simplicity and efficiency of our solutions on client computers. It also has the virtue of allowing us to gain a foothold in other areas already occupied by our competitors, but with a simple, elegant and free solution. We want to convince the market, as we did with our virtualized backup solutions.

HPC: This first version does not seem functionally equipped to counter your competitors.

RT: It’s normal for us. We released the first version voluntary incomplete in order to get it out the fastest possible. This software will improve over time, incorporating our ideas and the feedback of our users and customers.

HPC: How is your revenue distributed in the world?

RT: Approximately 35% of our revenue comes from the United States, 50% from Europe and 15% from the rest of the world. 15% of our customers use Hyper-V, and 85% use VMware. We protect 8.4 million virtual machines worldwide which amount currently to a total of 40 to 50 million.

HPC: What are your current and future projects?

RT: We launched Veeam FastSCP for Azure, which is the equivalent of the legendary Norton Commander, but applied to the Cloud. Administrators worldwide have welcomed this initiative! We are also working on the next version of Veeam Backup and Replication 9 scheduled in November, and whose characteristic will be based on the notion of replicas and containers, to allow the establishment of disaster recovery plans by simply setting up a cloud connector.

HPC: how do you see the future of Veeam?

RT: I am fortunate to have learned the rules of profitable and efficient sales and marketing and my partner is a world-class software developer. We operate in the hottest segment of the market of the moment. Together we are armed to make Veeam the next champion in virtualization and cloud technologies.

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