Online backup heats up with IBM acquisition

By Kevin Komiega

—The online backup-and-recovery market is heating up this week with several storage vendors joining the fray, most notably IBM, which announced it plans to acquire Arsenal Digital Solutions for an undisclosed sum.

Upon completion of the deal in the first quarter of 2008, Arsenal will become part of IBM's Global Technology Services' Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS) business unit. IBM plans to offer Arsenal's online data-protection services to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as well as large enterprises.

Arsenal's products include ViaRemote, a fully managed service that backs up data from servers, PCs, and laptops; ViaBack, a tape- and disk-based data-protection service; and ViaManage, a service for monitoring and managing storage and backup environments on a customer's existing infrastructure. Arsenal claims more than 3,000 customers.

IBM plans to make the solutions available worldwide through its BCRS services business, through Arsenal's existing channel partners, as well as direct through IBM.com and its business partners.

Forrester Research analyst Stephanie Balaouras says the online backup-and-recovery market is poised for growth. "It's critical for companies to gain a foothold in the online backup market. SMBs will use online backup as opposed to doing tape backup themselves," she says. "It's much easier because it eliminates tape from the equation and it allows them to get their data off-site."

Balaouras says online backup and recovery may also appeal to larger enterprises. "The biggest impact will be with SMBs. Right now, it's not technically feasible for large enterprises to use it to protect their data centers, but there is evidence that they are willing to use online backup to protect their PCs and remote offices," she says.

According to Balaouras, the recent activity in the online data-protection market could be an indication that more online services are on the horizon. "There are going to be a lot of online services delivered in the software as a service [SaaS] model. Archiving is most likely next, while security offerings such as encryption could follow suit," she says.

IBM isn't the only storage vendor to throw its hat into the online backup ring this week. CommVault and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) also announced deals and programs that signaled their interest in the market.

CommVault announced a new program for partners offering managed data-protection services to SMBs. The program is based on CommVault's Simpana software as part of a SaaS solution. CommVault's managed services program offers service providers the ability to license Simpana to create online backup services tailored to their customers' disaster-recovery, high-availability, and compliance needs.

"We're announcing a data-protection platform for existing managed service providers who may be thinking of hosting online backup services. We're not offering the service. We want to be the engine," says Eric Rice, CommVault's senior direcslandia has facilities in Iceland with 100% "green energy" — its facilities are powered completely by geothermal and hydroelectric energy.

The company provides disk-based archiving as an alternative to tape. Customers can access their archived data via a high-speed coslandia will use the Hitachi Content Archive Platform (HCAP) as the core digital indexing and archival platform and will use Hitachi's Universal Storage Platform (USP) V for storing the archived data.

For more information on online backup and recovery, see Why users opt for online backup

This article was originally published on December 07, 2007