‘In the future, there’ll be no money … only data’

  • Acronis debuts backup-as-a-service, touts innovative pricing model
  • Asia Pacific is priority No 1 for company, then only the ‘rest of the world’
 ‘In the future, there’ll be no money … only data’

SERGUEI Beloussov (pic above) founded Parallels in 2000, and a year later launched Acronis, although he was convinced that the new venture, despite serving a market demand, was a “boring” company to work on.
 
“It was doing back-up, and I thought it was boring compared with Parallels which was working on virtualisation. But over time, more and more, I came to believe that I was wrong. It’s a big space and it’s very important to protect data.
 
“Everything is becoming digital and you need to make sure you don’t lose your digital assets,” says the Russian-born entrepreneur, who made a return to Acronis as chief executive officer (CEO) in May 2013 after having left to pursue other interests.
 
Speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of the Parallels Summit in New Orleans, Beloussov says that there was no need for any data generated in today’s digital age to be lost.
 
In his opinion, while quantum information (physical information that is held in the state of a quantum system) cannot be easily copied, classical information (contained in a physical system) can be copied easily, leaving no reason for why it should be lost in the first place.
 
“I think that in the future, there [will be] no money … only data; and all value will move towards and be associated with data. Because of that, the size of the opportunity in this space, especially if you think about data from now up till 50 or 100 years from now, still growing, is huge,” he adds.
 
Acronis is a data protection company that provides backup, disaster recovery and partitioning software for both the home and SME (small and medium enterprise) markets. It currently has about 700 employees and in 2010, recorded annual revenue of US$170 million.
 
When asked what his ambitions for the company was, Beloussov says that today Acronis is a “multi-hundred-million-dollar company” but could very well be a multibillion-dollar one.
 
“It is a very large market, and a multibillion-dollar business, that’s what I want for Acronis,” he says, adding that the Asia Pacific region is important for the company’s ambitions, accounting for 33% of its revenue.
 
“Asia is our fastest growing market and naturally data is associated with economies and people. The region is just bigger and we definitely want to be very big in Asia – for us, it is priority No 1, and then the rest of the world,” he adds.
 
‘In the future, there’ll be no money … only data’First step to billion-dollar territory
 
At the Parallels Summit, the company announced Acronis Backup as a Service (BaaS), a cloud backup and recovery solution designed to help service providers and value-added resellers (VARs) compete with global cloud companies.
 
It claims the new service would enable service providers to expand their data protection offerings, localise an automated backup service, grow recurring revenue, and “kill churn.”
 
In a recent survey, TechTarget found that 55% of companies expect to increase cloud spending in 2014.
 
Robert Amatruda, research director for data protection and recovery at IDC has argued that local service providers need a differentiator to effectively compete against global cloud companies.
 
Meanwhile, SoftLayer CEO and president Lance Crosby says that many of its customers are seeking a way to simplify their backup processes, and BaaS is ideal for diminishing costs and outsourcing the technical expertise.
 
“But many customers are concerned about the reliability, sustainability and accessibility provided by many of the solutions on the market,” he however notes.
 
In an interview with DNA, Rene Oldenbeuving, general manager of the cloud business at Acronis, says that he came on board seven months ago to establish the cloud business unit within the company; with the mission to go after the service provider community with an indirect model focused on ‘as a service’ delivery.
 
“We’re delivering technology that is not limited in any form for deployment. The good thing about the cloud is that it makes the delivery and use of software efficient. [There is more of] an economical drive for businesses to have cloud services, which is more efficient than traditional IT,” he argues.
 
Oldenbeuving says that when old delivery models are replaced, what typically happens is that the usability of the new, disruptive delivery model is limited in audience and access in the beginning, which is what happened in the cloud backup segment.
 
The newly-launched backup service is designed around the notion that ‘the cloud’ is not relevant to end-users, who are focused on their desire to protect their data, leaving the responsibility to their service providers.
 
Acronis Backup as a Service is intended to empower service providers to reach that market by requiring no upfront commitments and operating on a pay-as-you-go model.
 
The service can also be ‘white-labelled’ or co-branded into their existing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings for easy localisation, Acronis says. It is also designed to be flexible and easy for customers by permitting them to designate various departments and/ or roles involved with installing, activating, monitoring and backing up data to the cloud and local storage destinations.
 
Service providers also have the option to leverage Acronis Cloud Storage or their own local storage.
 
The service is powered by Acronis AnyData Technology and is managed by a central Web-enabled control panel, allowing service providers to easily fulfill their customers’ backup needs, the company claims.
 
The service also includes Acronis Backup Advanced technologies for workstations, and physical and virtual servers and applications. This image technology enables service providers with IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-service) platforms to also build a Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) offering.
 
“With Acronis Backup as a Service, we’re chopping down the risks and traditional limitations of cloud backup by delivering a turnkey SaaS business model powered by Acronis’ mature and proven backup and recovery technology,” Oldenbeuving enthuses.
 
“Our usage-based service eliminates upfront investments, so costs only increase when revenue increases, giving service providers a competitive solution that puts them on equal footing with the biggest cloud businesses,” he adds.
 
Additional features include:

  • Re-brandable, localised cloud service hosted by Acronis from Tier-3 data centres in Europe and the United States;
  • Support for Windows, Linux workstations, physical and virtual servers, VMware, Hyper-V and other hypervisors and applications;
  • Usage reporting easily integrated into billing systems;
  • 24/7 dedicated technical support;
  • Service provider training, marketing and go-to-market support; and
  • Service Provider Licence Agreement requires no minimum revenue commitments or minimum term.

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