Storage As A Service Gets Vendor Backup

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A new wave of vendors is about to make a splash on the data backup market. Well-known storage players—including EMC, Hewlett-Packard, Iomega, Seagate and Symantec—will push backup as a service to a customer base that until now has been served by a handful of specialty providers, other small, unknown providers, or MSPs that added backup to their list of offerings.

Solution providers say the entry of the larger vendors in the space helps customers more easily accept the concept of storage as a service.

Pat Edwards, vice president of sales at Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based solution provider and Symantec partner that never offered backup as a service, said that a move by large vendors like Symantec into this market will add the kind of brand recognition that will get customers' and solution providers' attention.

"I'm liking that," Edwards said. "I've seen smaller companies doing this, but I've been afraid to work with them. Online backup services are not new. But somebody with a name like Symantec brings validity to the offering. With all the big guys getting into the game, I suspect it will be here for a while."

That is the plan for the name-brand vendors that are just now starting to see the potential for backup as a service.

Symantec, which this month unveiled plans to eventually move all of its software into a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, is making its start with its Symantec Protection Network, aimed at providing small and midsize businesses with low-cost online data backup and recovery.

Jeff Hausman, senior director of product management for the Cupertino, Calif.-based storage and security software giant, said Symantec will focus its SaaS offerings on the channel, while also making them available direct to customers.

The Symantec Protection Network relies on a number of redundant data centers Symantec has set up for customers to use for online backups. The data is compressed and encrypted as it is backed up, with the encryption phrase managed by the customer or a third-party escrow service to ensure customers that no one at Symantec can access their data.

Symantec also plans to provide a hybrid offering in which the next version of its Backup Exec data protection application will include the capability to send a copy of backup data to Symantec's data centers at the same time it is sent to customers' normal backup targets, Hausman said.

The new Symantec service is now available as a beta, with final availability and pricing to be determined. Pricing will be a monthly fee based on the amount of data protected, Hausman added.

Mark Teter, CTO of Advanced Systems Group, a Denver-based solution provider, said he is excited by the prospect of Symantec moving to SaaS with its offerings. "Symantec is in a position to help change the way software is delivered," Teter said. "That is innovation."

Advanced Systems Group sells a lot of Symantec software but currently has no SaaS offerings, a situation that Teter said could change. "Symantec could legitimize SaaS in the channel," he said.

HP has also been active in providing storage as a service on two fronts. The company provides a backup and recovery solution service based on a variety of software from HP, Symantec and EMC direct to customers via its professional services arm. Solution providers can also resell but not install HP's electronic vaulting and data replication solution services, said Steve Hort, global marketing manager for StorageWorks services.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP six months ago started providing online backup and recovery services to small businesses, with prices ranging from $918 per year for 5 Gbytes of backup capacity and seven-day history to $64,200 per year for 500 Gbytes with a 30-day history, said Harry Baeverstad, director of HP StorageWorks SMB business.

That service is aimed at customers with industry-standard servers but is not tied to customers using HP products, Baeverstad said. Solution providers can resell it as a CarePaq packaged service.

Next: More new storage-as-a-service players

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