Seagate Managed Services Arm Targets Channel

The company was formed in September, when Seagate rolled together the technologies from four acquisitions it made in the last two years into the new entity, i365.

Those included the EVault onine data backup services, hard drive data recovery from Action Front Data Recovery Services, open file manager technology from software developer St. Bernard and enterprise-class e-discovery software from MetaLINCS.

The centerpiece of the services is the EVault portion. Seagate acquired EVault, a provider of online data backup services as well as the software that allows customers to build their own online data protection cloud, in 2007.

In fiscal 2008, i365 experienced a 39-percent year-over-year growth, and currently has more than 500 employees servicing 22,000 customers worldwide out of eight high-availability data centers, said Carolyn Crandall, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for i365.

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The company focuses primarily on small and midsize businesses, and has no consumer business other than those who work with its disk recovery technology, Crandall said.

Between December and January, i365 plans to unveil its first channel rules of engagement for its solution providers, and launch its first integrated partner program.

That includes having a channel support organization to support solution providers' customer engagements, and separating its sales resources by territory, Crandall said. It also includes having channel relation managers and partner relation managers who will sell the entire software and Software-as-a-Service portfolio, she said.

"In the past, we had a direct sales organization, and a channel sales organization, which sold direct but fulfilled through the channel," she said.

The new company currently has two primary levels of partners, including authorized partners who refer customers to i365 in exchange for a referral fee and certified partners who invest in providing the i365 services.

The company is also bringing in a new level of partners, called specialized partners, for those who use the i365 technology to offer more specific services, such as e-discovery and disaster recovery, Crandall said.

Going forward, those at the certified and specialized levels will have access to an assigned partner manager or partner help desk, free demo software, access to systems engineers and priority tech support, increased lead support, discretionary marketing funds, invitations to partner conferences and the possibility of joining a partner loyalty program, she said.

Lee Bird, president of Btech, a Pasadena, Calif.-based solution provider who has worked with the EVault technology for over six years and is now an i365 partner, said the company has been helpful in providing managed storage and other services to his company's small and midsize credit union customers.

This has especially been the case as the financial community starts to realize that it needs to change the way it does business in the face of stepped-up regulations.

"In the past, examiners came in and said, 'This is what you need to get done by next year,'" Bird said. "But there was no teeth. No enforcement. So clients dragged their feet."

i365 is an example of the kind of services those types of customers need, Bird said. For instance, it provides an easy way for customers to protect their data off-site with encryption. "We have credit union customers who use tape, but don't encrypt their data or use bonded couriers to take the tapes off-site," he said.

Because of how EVault's software backs up only the changes to data after a one-time full backup, small and midsize clients like how they can back up terabytes of data over a simple T-1 network connection, Bird said.

And that has convinced many of them to give up their tapes. "I've yet to come across a client who likes tape backups," he said. "I guess it still works. But tape's time has come and gone."

Bird said he was initially skeptical when Seagate acquired EVault, but he appreciates the resources that Seagate has since put into the company and in bringing together the various technologies.

But he is not so sure that Seagate made the right decision when it chose the name "i365" for the company, especially since it also happens to be the same name as a line of Motorola cell phones.

"As a reseller, brand name is important," he said. "EVault worked hard to build a brand name, and people know it. 'i365' has been a challenge. I still call people and say I'm calling about EVault. And EVault is still the product name."