New EMC Acquisition: Moseying Into Online Backup?


EMC paid $76 million for American Fork, Utah-based Berkeley, according to online Weblog Techcrunch, which was among the first to report the acquisition.

EMC did not return phone calls about the acquisition, while a Berkeley spokesperson said that there is nothing to talk about now.

EMC and Joe Tucci, the vendor's president and CEO, have been hinting for some time that EMC plans to enter the backup software-as-a-service (SaaS) business.

Assuming the acquisition is true, EMC would be only the latest in a line of major storage vendors to offer online backup services, either via partnerships or, more common, through acquisitions.

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Hard drive vendor Seagate last December acquired online backup developer EVault to go after the small business data protection market for $185 million. EVault this week is unveiling its new EVault Unified Recovery platform, which now includes such features as data deduplication, replication of data to a secondary site for disaster recovery, and data self-healing capabilities.

Other storage hardware and software vendors who have recently moved into the online backup market include Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Iomega, and Symantec.

In addition, severalsmall vendors are also targeting the online backup space, often with a channel model that allows solution providers to either resell the services hosted by the vendor or host the services themselves.

Berkeley's online backup technology comes in two versions. MozyHome offers consumers 2 Gbytes of online storage capacity free-of-charge, and charges $4.95 per month for unlimited storage capacity. The technology includes open and locked file support, 128-bit SSL and 448-bit Blowfish encryption, automatic backups based on the customer's schedule, automatic backups of changed files, and block-level incremental backups.

MozyPro, aimed at small businesses, also includes private encryption key options, near continuous data protection (CDP) to backup new and changed files every two hours, bandwidth throttling, snapshot support, and support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 operating systems. It charges $3.95 per month for a license for each computer to be backed up, plus 50 cents per Gbyte per month.

Over 300,000 consumer customers and over 8,000 business customers use the Mozy service, the Berkeley spokesperson said. The majority of those business customers are small businesses.

One major exception is General Electric, which the spokesperson said is in the process of moving all of its 300,000 employees worldwide to the Mozy service, the spokesperson said.

EMC currently participates in the market in an indirect way through its acquisition last year of Avamar, which it acquired last November in a $165 million cash deal. Avamar's technology, including data de-duplication technology, is used by Arsenal Digital Solutions, a Cary, N.C.-based provider of online data protection services.

Brian Reagan, Arsenal executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said he doesn't know whether EMC acquired Berkeley, but it wouldn't surprise him. "It chart's Tucci's statements of the last six to nine months that it wants to get into online backups," Reagan said.

If it is true, it will be interesting to see how EMC handles pricing, Reagan said. "Mozy has very aggressive pricing, while EMC is more about premier pricing," he said. "It could be eating up a lot of expensive storage on the back-end."

The acquisition also brings up the matter of how it might affect EMC's Avamar technology. "It makes us wonder if Avamar is still EMC's strategy going forward," Reagan said. "A lot of their customers will wonder, too."