Thursday, 04 December 2014 17:07

Acronis head signals cloud future Featured

Acronis CEO Serguei Beloussov Acronis CEO Serguei Beloussov

The CEO of backup and data protection company Acronis says the company is developing a major new strategy based on delivering its products over the cloud.

The strategy will also, he said, enable the company to expand its customer base into the enterprise space.

Acronis is best known for its backup and disaster recovery software, which it has sold mostly to the small and medium business SMB) and high end of the consumer market. It claims over 5 million consumers and 300,000 businesses as users.

Its flagship products, Acronis Backup (for SMBs) and Acronis True Image (for consumers) have made the company’s name well known since it was founded as a division of SWsoft in 2001. The company was spun off in 2003, and SWsoft went on to become better known as Parallels, with its successful virtualisation software that enabled Microsoft Windows to run on Apple Mac computers.

Serguei Beloussov, one of the founders of both Parallels and Acronis, returned to Acronis as CEO in May 2013. In the 18 months since then he has worked to set the new strategy in place, which he outlined at the company’s Asia Pacific and emerging markets partner summit in Singapore.

The new strategy has two key components, he told iTWire. “We’ve done a lot this year with new products and acquisitions,” he said. “We’ve introduced backup-as-a-service and new consumer products. But the big changes will come in 2015.”

Acronis acquired US company nScaled in September 2014 for its disaster recovery-as-a-service products, and cloud backup company BackupAgent in the same month. The acquisitions are part of the strategy to expand products to the cloud, and to sell to larger enterprises, largely through expanding its channels to include organisations such as service providers and telcos who already sell into that space.

“For most of our existence we have been known for fast and efficient full system backup tools,” explained Beloussov. “They have a nice user interface on Windows and they back up data from most major environments.

“In the future we will still be doing those things, but we will increasingly be doing it from the cloud, with a browser interface. Cloud services is Acronis’s future, but we can’t do it all ourselves. We need to partner with telcos, data centre hosting companies, systems integrators and value added resellers.”

He said the company’s primary target as partners will be cloud services providers, who will be able to host Acronis’s new cloud products from their premises. “We will offer backup-as-a-service from local data centres. We have our own facilities – in Switzerland, the UK, Singapore, Russia and Japan. But we need to offer cloud storage within the country, so that means partnering with local suppliers.”

Does that mean Australia? “Definitely,” said Beloussov. “We’re interested in having Telstra as a partner – it already resells product from our sister company Parallels.”

The higher end cloud based products would allow Acronis to back up data from enterprise systems such as Oracle and SQL server based systems, said Beloussov. “We need to keep developing. The cloud has meant the whole development cycle has changed. It used to be we would bring out a new version every 18 months to two years, now it’s every couple of months.

“Cloud backup and cloud-based disaster recovery is critical to the success of cloud computing. Data managers need to be able to clone their data quickly and easily. We do it through agents that seamlessly copy data on a continuous basis.

“We don’t think anyone else is doing what we’re doing. It’s a very special model – with our new strategy and new business we are not selling a product, but a franchise.”

I asked Beloussov if that would mean a trip to Australia any time soon. “I hope to come in February or March,” he said. Would that be for the signing of a distribution deal with Telstra, or another Australian partner?

No comment, came the firm reply, with a little nervous laughter. But given the company’s plans, and the importance of the Australian market, it would not surprise.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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