Axcient Exits Stealth Mode With Disk-to-Disk-to-Cloud Backup/Recovery

Axcient just unveiled a new combination storage appliance and Internet-based storage service that lets customers back data up both locally for fast restores and online for safe archiving.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup, which is focusing its business on small and midsize companies with as few as five employees, is also pursuing a channel-only model, said CEO Justin Moore.

Moore formed Axcient about two years ago when an accident with his laptop at his previous company caused a loss of data. "It took a couple of weeks to get it back, and it was not all recovered," he said.

Axcient's hybrid storage protection strategy includes two parts.

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The first is "cloud" storage, whereby customer data is encrypted and sent over the internet to be stored in a redundant storage infrastructure which is hosted by Axcient itself, Moore said.

"We own the storage," Moore said. "And we host it at different colocation sites. We need to be able to control the backend."

This is tied to an appliance with a capacity of between 500 Gbytes and 10 Tbytes for local backup and recovery. Built in conjunction with Bell Microproducts, the appliance includes RAID capability and redundant power supplies. Incremental changes in customer data is encrypted and backed up on a regular basis.

"Online is great for backup, but not for recovery," Moore said. "For fast data recovery, having a local appliance is important. Also, having a local appliance means no agents are needed for the backups. So customers can set up an Axcient solution quickly. We've had resellers set customers up in as few as five minutes."

Having an appliance as part of Axcient's strategy also provides expansion possibilities, Moore said.

"When we designed it, we knew we wanted to add new features," he said. "For example, we will offer a feature called ServerAlive. This feature will keep an image of physical servers. If a server fails, that image can be run on our appliance instead of forcing customers to wait for a new server. It's future-proof."

Both the online and local storage are managed centrally. "Customers can see everything that's connected to the storage, and manage the storage remotely," Moore said. "They can see all the storage in a single window, its status, and any alerts, and can practice pro-active management."

Axcient provides a way for VARs to move customers from tape, or disk-to-disk-to-tape, data protection and instead take advantage of disk-to-disk-to-cloud storage, said Joe Santorsiero, vice president of sales at PC Professional, an Oakland, Calif.-based solution provider.

"I see people frustrated with tape, sticker-shocked with tape," Santorsiero said. "They swap their tapes every morning, but they don't know if there's data on the tapes or not."

PC Professional is an IT consultant and provider of managed services for small and midsize business customers, and has worked with several different providers of Internet-based storage services, Santorsiero said.

"But Axcient was the first to come to me with a strategic partnership and co-branding, all at a good price," he said. "They allow me to put my brand on their collateral. At one time there was even talk about us putting our PC Professional name on their appliance, but we don't care so much about having our name on the hardware."

While PC Professional has its own NOC, or network operations center, for services based on Level Platform's offerings, the solution provider is not interested in hosting customers' storage, Santorsiero said.

"Axcient takes care of the data," he said. "That's a big advantage for us. We don't want to vault the data."

Victor Neeley, vice president of sales at Axcient, said his company has signed up about 100 solution providers with about 200 customers since its soft launch in November.

Solution providers can come in at one of four levels, Neeley said.

At the preferred partner level, Axcient will do co-billing with the partner for customers, collect the payments, and pass commissions to the partner. "This lets them focus on getting new customers and working with existing customers," he said. "Partners can mark up the service however they want, and can set different prices for different levels of service."

At the premium level, traditional resellers can handle their own billing. At the elite level, partners can purchase blocks of storage capacity and resell them to customers. Axcient also has an OEM program as well, he said.

The service, which includes the appliance, starts at under $100 per month, Moore said. Monthly revenue will vary according to the appliance's storage capacity and the amount of online capacity used.

"We're extremely competitive," Neeley said. "When our partners look at our appliance, our software, and the fact that they don't need agents, it's very compelling."