Unitrends Buys PHD Virtual To Expand SMB Disaster Recovery, Take On Veeam

Mike Coney

Backup, archiving and disaster recovery technology developer Unitrends has signed an agreement to acquire PHD Virtual Technologies in a move to increase its penetration into the SMB storage market.

Unitrends, which in November was acquired by Insight Venture Partners, will use PHD Virtual to both better compete against Veeam in virtualized environments and expand geographically, said Mike Coney, CEO of Columbia, S.C.-based Unitrends.

PHD Virtual is also owned by Insight Venture Partners, which also holds a minority stake in Veeam.

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PHD Virtual brings Unitrends backup and disaster recovery virtual appliances for VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix virtualized environments, Coney said.

"They're slightly down-market compared to us," he said. "They compete against Veeam. We also have virtual appliances. But PHD Virtual has a more mature offering, and like us, their technology scales up nicely."

PHD Virtual in August acquired VirtualSharp Software for its automated disaster recovery technology for virtualized and cloud environments, which is turning out to be a good feature for Unitrends, Coney said.

"Our customers are screaming for a way to test the resiliency of their DR [disaster recovery] strategies," he said. "This brings us into cloud DR."

With PHD Virtual, Unitrends also gets a much more mature European business than Unitrends already had, as well as an expanded engineering team, Coney said.

"We added 150 people in 2013, and were planning to add over 400 people in 2014," he said. "The acquisition of PHD Virtual helps us dramatically in expanding our engineering team."

Matt Murphy, president and senior systems engineer at V.I. Experts, an Encinitas, Calif.-based solution provider and MSP, said his company has worked with PHD Virtual for quite some time and that Unitrends will help fill in a couple of areas where the smaller company is lacking.

"I've always liked the product," Murphy said. "The only thing PHD Virtual lacked was the sales and marketing side it needed to get its name out there. It also lacked a little on the implementation side, so it never gained the visibility it needed."

Murphy said he is excited that PHD Virtual will, with its acquisition, be part of a larger organization. "I hold Unitrends in high regards," he said. "It has one of the best BDR [backup and disaster recovery] solutions. It's a good company and good to MSPs."

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V.I. Experts currently does not have a partnership with Unitrends, V.I. Experts' Murphy said. "This is now an opportunity for us to sign up with Unitrends."

PHD Virtual has one of the best disaster recovery solutions on the market and is one of the only companies to make it easy to test customers' disaster recovery solutions on a regular basis, Murphy said.

However, he said, Veeam is still known for its ease of use. "Veeam, when it first came out, was easier to work with. So it took off in the market faster than PHD Virtual. But PHD Virtual over the years has been catching up."

Unitrends' Coney said his company has yet to determine what to do with the "PHD Virtual" name and is considering giving its technology a moniker like "PHD Virtual, a Unitrends company."

In any case, he said, Unitrends has no plans to kill off any PHD Virtual products or close any of its facilities.

"We're both expanding our business," he said. "There's a big opportunity for us to bring PHD Virtual into our channel program."

Coney declined to specify how much of Unitrends is owned by Insight Venture Partners, other than to characterize its ownership share as "a majority of the majority of the majority."

In addition to a minority stake in Veeam, Insight Venture Partners also owns a small part of Woburn, Mass.-based cloud backup provider Acronis. The investment firm also recently acquired automated management technology developer Kaseya, Coney said.

Being a part of Insight Venture Partners' portfolio offers opportunities to expand its reach via partnerships, Coney said.

"We just launched our MSP program," he said. "We're talking to Kaseya about partnering."