Revivio nearly drowned before Symantec rescued it

To have an insider's view of what went on at Revivio in the time leading up to the Symantec acquisition read this blog note written by an ex-Revivio engineer, Jeff Darcy.

A flavour of its contents include:-

"What happened at Revivio was basically attributable to three factors, in decreasing order of importance: strategy, organization, and technology. Strategy was by far the most significant. To put it simply, we chased the wrong market."

"Another strategic factor was that our product was just too new. We not only had to develop the technology for what is now known as Continuous Data Protection, but we had to create an awareness in the industry that this previously-impossible thing was now real and beneficial to storage consumers. We’ve all heard about the so-called First Mover Advantage, but I’m a big believer in the Second Mover Advantage."

"It’s very rare in this industry for the real originators of an idea to be the ones who profit most from it. NetApp didn’t invent network storage. EMC didn’t invent RAID. Microsoft didn’t invent windowing systems, and neither did Apple. The very energy and resources required to develop and evangelize any new idea become unavailable to exploit it commercially, leaving those who bear that expense at a disadvantage compared to latecomers who can devote 100 percent of their energy and resources to exploitation."

"The second set of problems at Revivio was organizational. I was not the first or only person there to remark that Revivio seemed to be more Balkanized and have more communication problems than any company its size ever should. Management was usually off in their own world of closed-door meetings between the same dozen people - none of whom had ever so much as installed the product - but that’s normal at tech companies."

"If there’s one thing that was fully under Revivio’s control and that they were really bad at, it was this issue of credit and accountability and motivation."

"I’ve left the technical issues until last because, frankly, I think they contributed least to the negative outcome. Everyone who worked there knows we had major issues with the third-party software we were using, from its initial selection to now. I don’t want to get in trouble for describing technology that is now the property of Symantec, but I will say that I’m referring to all of the third-party software, not just the obvious culprits that people seem to have eliminated but also some that I know are still in use."

If we had targetted a different market "We could have had a non-highly-available system with better performance ready a year sooner than the product we actually shipped, and it would have faced fewer barriers in the market. We could have had a hundred customers by spring 2006, instead of a dozen by fall."

"We certainly had the technical talent to do it, and I think we probably had the business talent as well, but somehow all of that ability never crystallized into a team that could win. A few key decisions years ago, filtered through an organization that tended to magnify mistakes and attenuate success, ended up making all the difference."

What has Symantec bought? It sounds like there will need to a lot of product clean-up work before the Revivio CDP product becomes a usable and reliable one.

This story, "Revivio nearly drowned before Symantec rescued it" was originally published by


Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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