Spanning, Acquired By EMC, Unveils Office 365 Data Protection Solution

Spanning Cloud Apps, a developer of cloud data protection technology acquired this fall by storage king EMC, has become one of the first developers of a full-featured enterprise-grade cloud backup solution for Microsoft Office 365.

The new Spanning Backup for Office 365 solution, scheduled to be available in the first half of 2015, is a follow-up to Spanning's similar solutions for Google Apps and Salesforce, said Jeff Erramouspe, Spanning CEO.

It will be a great technology if it works as well as Spanning's Google Apps data protection technology, said Mitch Greenwald, founder and CEO of Cloudbakers, a Chicago-based provider of SaaS applications based on Google Apps, Zoho CRM and others, but not Office 365.

[Related: 10 Cool Hybrid On-Prem/Cloud Data Protection Solutions For SMBs]

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While Google Apps, like Office 365, has its own data protection capabilities, the Spanning solution provides some important capabilities that Google does not include, Greenwald told CRN.

For instance, Spanning makes it easy to restore files, and can restore any kind of data. "And it merges data back to production as one would expect, with all the right labels, and so on, preserved," he said.

Spanning uses a separate infrastructure for backups, which Greenwald said is also very important. "In the unlikely event Google goes down, customers can access their data from a secure AWS environment," he said.

While Microsoft Office 365 is not an important part of Cloudbakers' business, adding Office 365 capabilities is very important for Spanning, Greenwald said.

"Spanning has been a great partner," he said. "We not only like to work with innovators, but forward-thinkers. Spanning is skating to where the puck will be, to use a sports analogy. We're real big advocates for our clients. Spanning understands and appreciates that."

Erramouspe told CRN that Spanning is the first to announce a complete enterprise cloud-to-cloud data protection solution for Microsoft Office 365, and will likely be the first to come to market.

The company is also the first to offer a full responsive application for Office 365, he said.

"Our solution works the same on desktops, laptops and mobile devices," he said. "Responsive design refers to sites which look well both on mobile and desktop devices. It automatically looks good on any device. This ensures that whatever device you use, it looks good. And for us, it means there is only one app to develop."

NEXT: Spanning Backup For Office 365 Upcoming Features

Spanning Backup for Office 365 does automated daily and on-demand backups of email, data and contracts from any device, Erramouspe said. It does point-in-time backups so that administrators can search for any version of data.

The solution lets end users easily restore their own data, a key feature, Erramouspe said. "In Office 365, each user owns the data," he said. "Administrators want users to do their own restores."

On the security side, Spanning Backup for Office 365 features SAE-compliant encryption, and offers full protection of the data, he said.

Another key capability is cross-user data restore, Erramouspe said. "When employees leave or change position, we make it easy to migrate their data to their replacements," he said.

Spanning Backup for Office 365 also includes unlimited storage in the per-user-per-year pricing, Erramouspe said. "That means no charges for the amount of storage used," he said. "There's no need to worry about what data to back up. If you store it, it will be backed up."

Pricing has yet to be determined. However, Erramouspe said, the Google Apps version is priced at $40 per user per year. "I expect the Office 365 version will have a similar price point," he said. "There will be discounts for education and nonprofit customers."

Spanning uses both direct and indirect channel sales, Erramouspe said. "But we are channel-first where we can be channel-first. We have a growing number of Google Apps and partners. Our view is, partners have relationships with the users, and there is no need for us to develop those relationships. And Microsoft has a very strong partner base."

Spanning, along with two other acquisitions EMC made in October -- OpenStack IaaS solution developer Cloudscaling and global name-space provider Maginatics -- are targeted at letting EMC extend its hybrid cloud capabilities across cloud infrastructure, storage and data protection, EMC told CRN at the time.

Getting acquired by EMC was no surprise given that EMC was an early investor in Spanning, Greenwald said. "The acquisition validates Spanning's model and the marketplace. I hope Spanning will not lose its entrepreneurial spirit. But everything is good so far."

NEXT: Spanning As Part Of EMC

The acquisition also brought Spanning, now known as Spanning by EMC, a large sales force, Erramouspe said. "But other than the larger sales force, life hasn't changed much," he said. "At least we don't have to worry about raising funds."

Since EMC acquired Spanning, the company has become the tip of EMC's spear for born-in-the-cloud applications, Erramouspe said. "Before they bought us, EMC had no such solution," he said. "Now it does."

That is an important move for EMC, Erramouspe said. "EMC has a significant business with Microsoft Exchange and other on-premises applications," he said. "But if those applications go to the cloud, there's a risk that EMC could lose that business. And that's where we come in."

There is no overlap at all between Spanning's and EMC's data protection business, Erramouspe said. "EMC is not tackling data protection at the application level. But we go after Google, Salesforce and Microsoft at the API level."