Acronis Makes First Launch Since Revamping Channel Program With Cloud Backup-As-A-Service

Acronis on Tuesday unveiled a cloud-based Backup-as-a-Service offering in the first release since it began revamping its channel strategy that will give its partners more control over licenses and help more VARs make the switch to the cloud with a Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA).

Acronis Backup as a Service is the company's response to increased demand for cloud storage, the company said, and can be packaged as a white-label or co-branded offering by solution providers. The product and the SPLA signify the company's shift toward a services-based model for the channel, recognizing that solution providers are looking for a usage-based payment system rather than a large up-front investment, Acronis said.

Last month, Acronis launched the first in a series of Partner Council events to bring together a handful of partners each quarter to help grow the relationships with Acronis' more than 30,000 partners and learn how to be a better partner in an industry "disrupted" by changing technologies like the cloud.

[Related: Acronis Revamps Channel Program, Turns To Partners For Key To Success ]

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"We think, and I think you can see, a lot of performance of the cloud ramping up. A large part of the industry will move to a Software-as-a-Service offering, and we have to move into that space," Rene Oldenbeuving, Acronis' general manager of cloud business, said in an interview with CRN. "We could do it directly, but we believe that service providers have a better position to sell it."

"Our first aim is to address this to the VAR community," Oldenbeuving continued.

The back end of the system uses Acronis AnyData Technology and is managed through a single point of web control that gives solution providers access to data management and customer data.

Alex Gorbachev, president of Intelligent Systems Services, a Washington, D.C.-based Acronis partner for almost 10 years, said that he is most excited about the Service Provider Licensing Agreement that Acronis has adopted with the Backup-as-a-Service launch. Gorbachev said being in charge of the licenses, especially for his health-care-vertical-focused company, means that Intelligent Systems Services can provide quicker services if clients experience downtime.

"I'm very excited about this Backup as a Service and another program that they call SPLA. We're very excited about the SPLA because it puts the [ownership] on us to issue licenses. We work like this with other providers as well ... and it's really nice to be able to be trusted, first of all, and to be able to bring out these licenses," Gorbachev said.

"We wanted to do this for a long time and they didn’t have a program until now. Their OEM program was airtight and esoteric, and we couldn’t take advantage of it. It's really good. It's really wonderful," Gorbachev said of the new programs.

Oldenbeuving said that Acronis recognizes that many VARs are making the switch to a services-based model and he said that the SPLA model will help facilitate that transition with no minimum revenue commitment.

"A typical VAR could, with the same team, address a lot more customers or the same customers with a smaller team, and the margins they could make are very good," Oldenbeuving said of the switch to a SaaS model. "In the end, cloud is about changing the economics of the IT industry, so we are very much aware of that for the end customer. The cost of ownership should go down and for a service provider that’s the same way. At Acronis, we need to find a way to make it more efficient to deliver, manage and maintain the technology so that we can sell more with the same team."

Gorbachev said that the product itself is the best he has found for his own business, saying that it stands above market competitors on administrative and security needs, both particularly important for his health-care-focused business.

Oldenbeuving said they have already signed up a few solution providers for the SPLA program, including Intelligent Systems Services. The Backup as a Service also will be offered through distributors, for which Acronis' main partner is Ingram Micro.