Carbonite Intros First Data Protection Appliance, Ties To Amazon Cloud For Business Continuity

Cloud backup and recovery developer Carbonite on Wednesday moved further away from its consumer user roots and toward the small business market with the release of its first hardware appliance targeting fast local data restores while maintaining data in the cloud.

Carbonite, which is making the appliance available only through channel partners, also discussed the road map for new backup appliances it said will continue to expand its business offerings.

The new Carbonite Appliance HT10 is the most visible sign of how far Carbonite has moved away from its roots as a provider of consumer-focused backup services, said Dave Maffei, vice president of global channel sales for the vendor.

[Related: Channel Focus, SMB Push Drives Carbonite To Solid First Quarter]

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"We're shedding our B2C [business-to-consumer] roots, and thriving on B2B [business-to-business]," Maffei told CRN. "We're primarily targeting companies with three to 500 people. There are over 6 million small businesses in North America. And we're shifting from traditional advertising and direct sales to the consumer."

That shift shows in Carbonite's marketing budget. Maffei said the company spent about $25 million on consumer advertising in 2013 compared to $5 million on business marketing, but plans to spend about $20 million on business marketing in 2014.

The Carbonite Appliance HT10 is not only Carbonite's first hardware device, it is the company's first solution designed as a channel-only product, Maffei said.

It allows backups to be done locally to the appliance for fast recovery, as well as to the cloud for disaster recovery purposes. The hybrid solution includes 1 TB of local storage as well as 500 GB of cloud storage using the Amazon cloud, he said. The monthly service fee paid by the partner to Carbonite includes the appliance and the space in the Amazon cloud, he said.

Carbonite has done an impressive job with its new appliance, said David Levenson, owner of Creative Computer Consulting, a Framingham, Mass.-based solution provider and Carbonite channel partner.

Levenson, whose company was a beta tester of the appliance, told CRN he found the device very easy to deploy and use.

"It's super-easy to set up, and easy to implement," he said. "We found tech support to be tremendous. There were very few issues from the get-go. We were very impressed with the appliance as a beta product, along with the improvements they made to it."

The Carbonite Appliance HT10 with its user interface made it possible to start doing backups quickly, Levenson said.

NEXT: Carbonite Focusing On Partners, Moving Data To Public Cloud

"Just plug it into a network and turn it on," Levenson said. "The appliance comes with a thumb drive which installs a thin client. The thin client finds the appliance, which allows you to open the web interface where you can configure the schedules, such as each server and workstation backups as well as when to have the files uploaded into the cloud."

The ability to restore the images onto different hardware is one of the most important features of the Carbonite Appliance HT10, Levenson said.

"When hardware fails, you can't always obtain the same hardware, or you want to use newer hardware," he said. "They were able to restore both PCs and servers onto different hardware with no problems. They restored a file server onto a computer that had less memory and storage with no difficulties."

Carbonite is filling a large market with its new appliance, which is affordable for smaller and midsize businesses, Levenson said.

The company's price model, which provides the appliance free of charge as part of the subscription, is also important for small and midsize business customers and their Carbonite solution providers, he said. "It's aggressively priced and very impressive," he said.

The hybrid data protection model of the new Carbonite Appliance HT10 marks the first time that Carbonite is backing customers' data to the Amazon cloud instead of to Carbonite's own co-located cloud, Maffei said.

It takes advantage of the Carbonite Server Backup technology Carbonite got with its October 2012 acquisition of open source cloud backup provider Zmanda, whose data protection technology was wired into the Google and Amazon clouds, he said.

"In the last few years, there has been a price war between Google, Amazon and Microsoft Azure," he said. "Now we're at the point where it's nearly cheaper to use those clouds than build it ourselves. And when you add in the intangibles of scale, management, no more need to build a data center, it all makes sense."

Going forward, Carbonite is planning to unveil several new models of data protection appliances, including models targeting companies with up to 500 employees, as well as with the ability to spin up virtual machines for fast recovery of a downed server, Maffei said.