Western Digital Acquired Arkeia Software, Plans SMB Data Protection Push

Western Digital has moved to beef up its SMB storage business and channel with the acquisition of Arkeia Software, a developer of data protection software and appliances for small and midsize businesses.

The acquisition, which closed in late December but was first unveiled Tuesday, gives Western Digital, a company best known as one of the three remaining hard drive vendors, a line of software, hardware appliances and virtual appliances that address SMB requirements for local and remote data protection solutions, said Tom Gallivan, vice president of SMB solutions at Irvine, Calif.-based Western Digital.

The acquisition helps Western Digital address several data protection trends now impacting the SMB market, including the migration of customers from software-only data protection solutions to purpose-built backup appliances, the continuing migration from tape to disk-to-disk backup solutions and the increasing move to combine hybrid clouds with on-premise storage for data protection, Gallivan said.

[Related: Report: Purpose-Built Backup Appliance Market Growth Surpasses Storage Software ]

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William Evans, the former CEO of Arkeia and now senior director of worldwide software marketing for Western Digital, said that while Arkeia did not offer a cloud service, it does give Western Digital partners and customers the ability to make private clouds a part of a complete data protection solution.

Arkeia encourages SMBs to use a hybrid cloud solution for data protection, which includes both local backup and automatic copying of data to a private cloud, Evans said.

"I think of the cloud as disks at another location," he said. "Everyone knows that having data backed up offsite is the key to successful data protection. SMBs traditionally used tape, or replicated data to an offsite location. Our technology provides the ability to back data up offsite. We already have many customers replicating data to remote locations."

Prior to the Arkeia acquisition, Western Digital provided data protection solutions to small businesses through its WD Sentinel, which provides a maximum capacity of 16 TB and includes Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials software to protect up to 25 client computers.

The Arkeia Network Backup Suite of data protection software protects data on Windows, Linux and multiple Unix platforms, and it supports data on such virtualization environments as VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and Parallels Server.

The software can be purchased as a stand-alone product or as part of a physical or virtual data protection appliance.

NEXT: New Version Of Arkeia Network Backup Now Available

Western Digital's Evans said Arkeia Network Backup v10.0 this month became generally available. The new version differs from version 9 mainly in its new, easier-to-use Web interface and its new "seed and feed" function that lets SMBs do their initial backup and any future large follow-up backups on a USB drive or array to eliminate the need to do those backups over several days over the Internet. Data restores can also be done using the USB devices, he said.

Evans said Arkeia, which has been cash-flow positive since 2008 and profitable since 2011, was not looking to get acquired.

"Arkeia wanted to dominate the backup market and had the right product," he said. "But it wasn't growing as fast as it wanted to. We decided we needed a partnership to boost growth."

Western Digital's Gallivan said the acquisition closed on Dec. 19, but it was not officially announced until Tuesday because of the holiday season and this month's Consumer Electronics Show. He said Western Digital did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

Going forward, Arkeia in the short term will be known as "Arkeia, a WD Company," Gallivan said. What happens to the Arkeia name in the future has yet to be determined, he said.