Interview

Get to Know Michael Stempf: A Journey to Cyber Resiliency, and the One Thing to Do Now

  • 29 April 2024
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Get to Know Michael Stempf: A Journey to Cyber Resiliency, and the One Thing to Do Now
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Many of you in the Commvault Community are familiar with Michael Stempf from our partner ecosystem and as one of our longest-tenured Certified Experts (formerly Certified Masters).

But you may not know that, last summer, Michael joined Commvault as Director, Product & Ecosystem Strategy.

We sat down with Michael recently to talk about how his career pivoted to cyber recovery and resilience, why he joined Commvault, and the one thing he urges customers to do now.

This is the first in a series of profiles we’re excited to launch in the Community in 2024.

 

Pivot to Recovery: A Defining Career Moment

Michael has overseen hundreds of data recoveries in his career. But he’ll never forget the one that inspired his pivot from storage to security.

As Principal Architect at Sirius Computer Solutions (since acquired by CDW), Michael worked with some of the biggest players in the industry and his firm had racked up numerous “partner of the year” accolades.

But on Christmas Eve 2019, all was not calm or quiet for one of his clients. The company had been hit with a state-sponsored attack, a first for Sirius.

“The client said, ‘Everything we know about data protection is wrong,’” Michael recalls. “They had been attacked by a major bad actor group that absolutely destroyed their environment.” In response, the team put in 18-hour days, every day, for three months to get the client back on their feet.

That sobering event brought Michael into the fight and defines his continued focus on security today. 

“We threw away our playbook at that time,” he says. “From that day, we started relearning everything with an eye on the worst cyber attacks that could happen. Then, cyber-attacks hit hard after that, and we were prepared.”

 

Shaking Things Up: The Future of Cyber Recovery and Resilience

As a longtime partner, Michael saw joining Commvault as a chance to help shape the conversation around data security and recovery and the industry’s response to the bad actors of today and tomorrow.

First step, “shake things up.”

“Backup and recovery are dead,” he says. “I mean, we shouldn't have to talk about the basics of backup and recovery anymore. Cyber resiliency is the number one thing out there.”

In his current role, Michael works tightly with Commvault product experts and leaders in cybersecurity, AI, and cloud technologies to help bolster customers’ cyber resilience with enhanced preparedness, protection, and recovery strategies and solutions.

“I’m excited about the ability to take something great - Commvault’s technology - and transform the conversation around its impact,” he says.

 

Journey to Commvault

Michael began his career at IBM, working on Tivoli Storage Manager for nearly 15 years.

Then he transitioned to pre- and post-sales for TSM for Sirius Computer Solutions for about a decade. However, he recognized that customers needed more than what Tivoli had to offer.

“I knew, this isn't going to be the wave of the future,” he says. “We needed another solution to answer questions for customers, which is why I started learning Commvault.”

He soon became a Commvault Master (now Certified Expert). So, when he joined Commvault last year, he already felt like part of the family. Michael credits his longtime friendship with Rahul Pawar, Commvault’s Global VP, Security GTM & CTO, GSS, and years of collaboration with Commvault developers as the initial impetus for joining Commvault.

“I was also working with the Rubriks and Cohesitys with all this start-up energy,” he says. “I actually saw a higher level of energy with Commvault engineers and a sense of family. I was a big believer in the technology for years and saw an opportunity to help communicate its impact to the market.”

 

Test, Don’t Guess!

What’s the one thing you can do now to bolster your readiness and resilience? According to Michael, Test, Test, Test.

Traditionally, companies have tested their disaster recovery plans quarterly, but not so with cyber recovery.

“No one’s doing it. It’s been too expensive and difficult,” Michael says. But he believes that Commvault is changing that with the launch of Cleanroom Recovery. Cleanroom Recovery combines the power of Commvault Cloud’s any-to-any platform architecture and application verification automation with Microsoft Azure to provide a clean, ransomware-free environment to recover data for testing, forensics, or cyber recovery. 

Now, you can have a guaranteed cleanroom ready to test and recover immediately – for that critical peace of mind.

Cleanroom is just one of the ways that Commvault is helping strengthen your position against bad actors, malicious threats, and ransomware. 

“You don’t know your readiness unless you test it,” he adds. “That’s the most critical thing for our customers.”

 

Always Learning

When he’s not driving toward the future of cyber recovery and resilience, how does Michael spend his time?

“I don’t really watch TV,” he says. “I spend a lot of time researching IT and electronics. I’m an amateur radio operator. I’ve built an airplane, gotten my pilot’s license. You’ll often find me scuba diving or hiking. I like to keep learning.”

 

Hear more from Michael on our YouTube channel where he breaks down Recovery architectures and the three major use cases - Operational, Disaster, and Cyber - and on our recent LinkedIn Live session.

 

To keep up with Michael, follow him on LinkedIn. If you have questions for Michael or a story to share from your journey around testing, recovery, and cyber resiliency, let us know here!


6 replies

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Good to know it helps to build your career path

Userlevel 4
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Great to see a long time partner onboard - 

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Funny that i can relate my career started with TSM with LTO days :) very nice

Userlevel 1
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Great CV! Nice to have you onboard with Commvault!

Userlevel 3
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Everyone talks about a solution when a problem occurs. Does prevention help and in what way? How to educate people, not only in the IT sector.

Userlevel 7
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Great to have you onboard at Commvault! I'm confident that the experience and mindset that you bring to the table will definitely help Commvault to shape its future. I miss our conversations that we had during the Master classes at Go and the ones we attended at the office. Hope to see you some time in person to catchup! 

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