BakBone Moves From Backup To Data Protection

The San Diego-based company, which has no direct sales business, also discussed the integration of its data backup software with the data protection technology it received as part of its October acquisition of Constant Data, and offered a look at its product roadmap and the possibility of more acquisitions to come.

Data protection, in addition to ensuring data is backed up, also provides other capabilities such as replication, archiving and clustering aimed at helping ensure that data is readily available in case of a system or file failure without requiring a lengthy recovery process.

The integrating of data protection with data backup is a message that resonated with solution providers at the conference.

The vendor's strategy of integrating the two encompasses a majority of customers' requirements, said Ben Woo, vice president of sales and marketing at New York-based ASI System Integration.

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"The availability of data is more important than recovering it," Woo said. "Recovery is important, but by the time data is recovered, a company may have been changed (by the data loss). Data protection software knows what data is there, and makes it easier to protect it in a hands-off manner."

Woo said that in his entire storage career, he has never seen so much emphasis on data protection as he is seeing this year, especially for midrange customers. "BakBone is addressing the midmarket in a way that no one else is. It is using standards, and working with partners such as Network Appliance and Microsoft."

Data protection has traditionally required an upgrade in storage hardware or virtualization or some other technology more suitable for an enterprise data center than for a midsize business, said Woo. "BakBone's data replication works with whatever customers have in their environments," he said.

Customers are starting to understand technologies like data replication, but the smaller the customer, the less likely they are to understand how to take advantage of them, said Tom Harrity, president of Xdata, a Denver-based solution provider.

By integrating data protection technology with its data backup software, BakBone has managed to bring an easy-to-use application that the channel can use to educate customers, Harrity said. "It's nice to work with a company whose product can be downloaded from the Web," he said. "We can install it, not in two to three weeks, but in two to three days. Our value comes from providing solutions and services like data assessment."

Integrating data protection into the BakBone software also set the vendor apart from the multitude of backup software vendors, said Harrity. "As a backup software company, there's only so far that BakBone could go," he said.

Going forward, solution providers can expect an expansion of BakBone's product line into adjacent technology, said Ken Horner, senior vice president of corporate strategy for the company.

BakBone's software now allows backup, replication and storage resource management, but in the next one to two years will be expanded into such areas as data archiving, e-mail archiving and compliance via internal development and acquisitions, Horner said.

The company also is in the process of adding a management console to tie all the technologies into a single offering and add such functions as reporting, scheduling, control and security, all centrally managed, he said.

Constant Data was BakBone's first acquisition, but not likely its last, given the track record of its president and CEO, Jim Johnson.

Johnson, a veteran of Sterling Software, joined that company when his former business became Sterling's first acquisition back in 1982. He then worked with Sterling on a string of over 40 acquisitions before that company was itself acquired by Computer Associates in 2000.

At BakBone, Johnson worked with consultants to develop a model that identified 112 possible acquisitions before the company acquired Constant Data, especially smaller companies with good technology on the verge of entering the market. He said he currently has six non-disclosure agreements with possible candidates, but noted that NDAs do not necessarily mean a deal will go through.

BakBone continues to actively look at new candidates, Johnson said. "My day job is to run the business," he said. "At night and on the weekends, it's mergers and acquisitions. If 1 plus 1 equals 3, OK. If not, we keep looking, and keep working on our business."