There are managed service providers that promise they can backup your data center for a few dollars a month. And for that cheap price, all the organization has to do is install a little piece of software, enter your credit card, and voila, the organization is backing up over the Internet. If your Internet speed is insufficient to support a large restore, some of these MSPs also offer local appliances to increase the speed of large restores — and the price of this appliance is often bundled into the monthly service fee.
IT administrators can start your backup in minutes with little to no infrastructure (other than the Internet connection, which no one is using at night anyway). Depending on the size of your connection, it won’t be too long before the first backup is complete. If your server is too big or your connection is too small to finish your first backup in a reasonable time, most cloud backup vendors have the answer to that, too, in the form of a disk or tape seeding service. Never underestimate the bandwidth of a FedEx truck. The key is this: with little to no upfront cash outlay, you can have a fully functional backup system relatively quickly.
This is why backup vendors who don’t have a managed service providers (MSP) strategy are struggling to develop or acquire one at all costs. It is in this environment that Barracuda, an established backup appliance vendor with a large reseller channel, bought Intronis, an established backup vendor with a large MSP channel. It’s been months since the acquisition and Barracuda/Intronis are announcing their first joint product. It is a marriage of the Intronis pay-as-you-go backup service that you can buy from any of their MSPs and the Barracuda backup appliance, a product you once had to buy up front for thousands of dollars.
Fans of Barracuda’s software, or prospective new customers, now are able to add it to their environment without a big cash outlay. Intronis MSPs also now have a new product with features heretofore unseen in the traditional Intronis product. An example is instant recovery in the cloud, which enables customers of this new service to run cloud-based virtual instances of their backed up physical machines and some VMs. (The VM support is currently limited to VMware vSphere VMs; Hyper-V support is in the plans.) When disaster strikes they can get back in business in 30 minutes or less. In addition, Intronis MSPs will have access to an entire suite of Barracuda products that go well beyond backup and recovery.
The new combined companies will have challenges, of course, as the backup suite sold by Intronis and the one sold by Barracuda have overlapping feature sets. The merged company will need to make a decision that has been so difficult for companies who have tried this before. Do they maintain two products that overlap more than they compete? Maintaining both products requires crisp messaging and guidance to MSPs, resellers and prospective customers as to which product they should choose given the use case.
The other option is to create a single product that has the capabilities of both. Merging the products seems like the “right thing to do” but is by far the hardest. Merging software code is not for the faint of heart. It takes time and skilled developers. Merging the product does not always have to be a complete code integration, it can also come more gradually, starting with a combined management interface, picking specific features to share between products and then eventual complete integration.
The move to add an MSP channel and offering to the Barracuda portfolio is a smart one, and the addition of cloud based recovery, and the non-backup options that Barracuda brings to the table is rounding out what Intronis’ MSPs are offering. The challenge for the new company is to either articulate which product is right for which customers, or to create a single product for everyone, and neither of these choices are easy. For now, customers and MSPs need to select the product that can best serve their needs now. The good news is that Barracuda has several offerings that are up to the task.