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Axcient Simplifies Data Protection Portfolio For MSPs

'We want to take away the pain with a technology stack that all looks the same, is managed on a single platform, and simplifies the numbers of SKUs,’ says Axcient CEO David Bennett.

Axcient, a developer of MSP-focused business availability and cloud migration technologies, Thursday unveiled a new converged backup protection platform that integrates several of its existing stand-alone platforms.

The introduction of its X360 converged backup platform, which was unveiled at the IT Nation conference held this week in Orlando, Fla., followed last week's introduction of its AutoVerify technology for testing backup data to ensure it can be recovered when needed.

Axcient's X360 converged backup platform provides single sign-on and a common user experience for MSPs by bringing together the Denver-based company's CloudFinder data protection technology for Microsoft Office 365, its Anchor secure file sync and share technology, and its Replibit business continuity and disaster recovery software.

[Related: Goodbye eFolder, Hello Axcient: Merged Company Rebrands, Intros Suite With Products From Both]

Axcient is the combined entity formed in November 2018 by the merger of eFolder, an MSP-focused provider of data protection and file sync and share technologies, and Axcient, which previously offered Office 365-focused and VMware-focused data protection capabilities.

David Bennett, who in February joined Axcient as CEO after a nine-year run at Webroot, said he has since been looking at how to make backup and recovery simple.

"Most data protection companies grow by acquisitions and end up with multiple technologies, all of which look different and are managed differently," Bennett told CRN. "We want to take away the pain with a technology stack that all looks the same, is managed on a single platform, and simplifies the numbers of SKUs."

Axcient has accomplished those goals, Bennett said. The company now offers 11 SKUs, down from 1,500 in the past.

Those SKUs also have been simplified so that they all come with unlimited storage capacity and retention times, he said.

The introduction of the X360 platform further simplifies Axcient's MSP offerings with a single portal where an MSP can log in and see the three products to take advantage of Office 365 protection, file sync and share replication, and backup and disaster recovery, with all the different capabilities looking exactly the same, Bennett said.

All the technologies offer multitenant capabilities, integrated reporting and management, a unified billing information and payment portal, and an integrated marketing portal, he said.

"We give MSPs one place to get into all the products, billing, marketing and MDF requests, all with a single look and feel via a single sign-on," he said.

Axcient X360 also introduces a first for the company: a free trial period for any of the software.

"Here's some perspective," Bennett said. "Before June, we did not offer trials of our software unless you jumped through 100 hoops. Now if a user comes in and does a trial, we can pass an actual lead to our MSPs. It's more than a lead—it's a live customer actually using the technology."

Looking forward, Axcient will keep the original names of the individual products for now, but over time there will be a focus on Axcient as the brand name and X360 as the portal name, Bennett said.

Axcient is also looking at converging some of its technologies, Bennett said, and expects it to happen sometime next year.

Meanwhile, Axcient's new AutoVerify technology for validating the recoverability of backup snapshots and protected environments gives MSPs a tool to help ensure customers can recover from disasters or even ransomware attacks.

Most backup vendors use something like Chkdsk to see if a backup actually occurred, and a lot of MSPs use that for compliance, Bennett said.

AutoVerify does more than check if a backup is done, he said. "It checks the whole system and the integrity of the system," he said. "This is important because when it comes to recovery, if the backup doesn't have useful information, you've backed up junk."

AutoVerify is part of the BootVM check operation on all Axcient's BRC and Replibit appliances, Bennett said. If the nightly BootVM checks are enabled for a protected system on the local BRC or Replibit appliance, those selected protected systems will automatically boot the latest backup snapshot and do AutoVerify operations to test that the recovered backup works as expected.

AutoVerify looks at whether backup data is good and can be used to recover the system, Bennett said. "The day you have a bombshell event and need to recover, the last thing you want to see is bad data," he said.

If AutoVerify sees bad data or a bad image, it can do some repairs, Bennett said. If a problem cannot be fixed, such as an issue with a hard drive or a host device, AutoVerify can warn MSPs about the issue, he said.

AutoVerify is gradually being rolled out to customers and will be available to all Replibit BDR and BRC BDR offerings at no charge, Bennett said.

A lot of customers assume their backups are tested, but it's not uncommon for an MSP to get a call from one who says they used a particular data protection software for years only to find that they cannot recover data as promised, said Luis Alvarez, president and CEO of Alvarez Technology Group, a Salinas, Calif.-based MSP and longtime Axcient channel partner.

With most data protection software, the only way to test if a backup job was done properly is to go through a manual process of spinning up a virtual machine and running the application with the data, Alvarez told CRN.

"AutoVerify spins up the virtual machine, but it goes farther," he said. "It applies logic to see if the data will work and to tell us if it's fine or if there's a problem."

For larger MSPs, this is a big deal, Alvarez said.

"We're 100 percent with Axcient for backups," he said. "This will catch problems automatically without needing our people to intervene. So now we can do more tests and better tests of the data while repurposing our people to do higher-value business."

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