VAR Recruits Peers For On-line Backup Service

eFolder, which is in the process of recruiting solution providers for its online backup service, started as the software development arm of SafeNET, an Atlanta-based solution provider, said John Williams, founder of SafeNET and president of eFolder.

The new service is coming to the channel at the right time, with storage being one of the fastest growth areas in the managed services space, according to a study by the Institute for Partner Education and Development, Boston, a CMP Media channel consulting firm.

Development of the service started over three years ago because of small business clients' horror stories about data backups, including lost data and tape problems, Williams said. "As a VAR, I understood their issues," he said. "I knew they often don't have people handling backups, or they leave it to some junior employee."

eFolder is offering solution providers three ways to bring its backup service to their customers. The key benefit for partners is recurring revenue, Williams said.

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At the most basic level, solution providers can resell the service to customers in return for 25 percent of the revenue, with customers having their data backed up to eFolder's co-located storage infrastructure and eFolder handling all support issues.

Solution providers who can provide installation and first-level support to customers can also resell the service, with eFolder handling the hosting of the data and all backend support, Williams said. Such partners are eligible for 40 percent of the service revenue.

At the upper tier, solution providers with their own hosted infrastructures can pay a one-time license fee, an annual maintenance fee and a small license fee of less than one-third of one percent of the service revenue, he said.

The suggest retail price for the first Gbyte of uncompressed data is $20, with the per-Gbyte price falling rapidly as capacity increases, Williams said. "VARs can set their own price," he said. "It can be less, depending on how they want to use their discount. Or it can be more for certain types of data."

Data backed up with the eFolder software is protected by 256-bit AES encryption and 256-bit RSA encryption to ensure security of the data, said Williams. "No non-encrypted data is allowed," he said.

eFolder started about three years ago with a customer base of 100 clients, and in the time since picked up an additional 25 clients by word-of-mouth, with no advertising, Williams said. It also lost three clients in that time, two of which went out of business.

Williams said the opportunities for online backup services will only grow in the future. "Our average customers' data store with us is increasing 25 percent per year," he said.