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Dell says AppAssure now its premier backup product

Despite its longstanding partnership with Symantec and CommVault, Dell says that products from recently acquired AppAssure will become the company's primary backup offerings.

The AppAssure backup software products will be targeted at small and midsize businesses, Dell's strongest storage market, said Brett Roscoe, general manager and of data management solutions at Dell Storage.

In an interview at Computerworld's SNW Spring 2012 conference here this week, Roscoe said Dell spent two years looking for a backup product for its storage portfolio. AppAssure was the standout among the "up and comers," he said.

"It's winning customers. It had 194% year-over-year growth. We surveyed their customers and the NPS scores were off the charts," he said. "They were just an attractive acquisition."

NPS, or Net Promoter Score, is a tool used to gauge customer loyalty.

The deal to buy AppAssure was closed about a month ago. Terms weren't disclosed.

In February, Dell appointed former CA CEO John Swainson as head of a new software division, prompting speculation that the firm would make a run of acquisitions to fill a software portfolio.

AppAssure was the first.

This week, Dell moved to acquire three more software companies -- Make Technologies, a maker of automated application and code migration tools, Wyse Technology, a provider of software and hardware for thin clients, and application modernization vendor Clerity Solutions.

Privately-help AppAssure, based in Reston, Va., employed about 230 workers.

Later this spring, Dell plans to launch version 5.0 of AppAssure's backup software, Roscoe said would include several new features that he wouldn't identify.

Dell also plans to build a backup appliance based on AppAssure's software, he said.

Dell continues to resell Symantec's Backup Exec, NetBackup and CommVault's Simpana backup software, Roscoe added.

On its website, Dell refers to itself as "Symantec's #1 partner, selling more Systems Management, Data Protection, Archiving & Security than any other Symantec partner."

Dell sells CommVault's software to support Unix environments. The CommVault product is aimed at enterprise remote or disaster recovery data centers.

"I'm not going to tell you there won't be overlap, and that there won't be times when we tell you our intellectual property is the best, but there may be times when it doesn't fit," Roscoe said.

Dell sells a range of storage systems, but the small and mid-size business market is its most traditional and lucrative space, and that's where "AppAssure plays best," Roscoe said.

"It's a portfolio play. The top 5 players in storage traditionally have backup and restore capability," Roscoe continued.

AppAssure provides backup and data recovery for physical, virtual machines, and cloud environments. It supports both VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V environments, as well as Windows desktops, and Microsoft's Exchange, SharePoint and SQL Server products.

Roscoe referred to AppAssure as "bot-based, images-based technology."

The software performs an initial backup and then uses data snapshots to update it. The software can be set send changed blocks over a backup network any number of times a day. "So it very efficiently uses the network for recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives," Roscoe said.

Recovery point objectives are used in business continuity planning to determine what data may be lost if systems go down.

Recovery time objectives refers to the amount of time a company can tolerate a system being down or, in other words, how quickly they must be restored after a disaster.

Roscoe said AppAssure's product is particularly good at bringing up VMs from a cloud or managed service provider in order to restore applications quickly after a systems disruption or a disaster.

The backup software also allows bare metal restores, or restoration of an operating system for boot purposes. The software will restore the OS before application data to ensure virtual or physical servers can be rebuilt quickly, Roscoe said.

"This occurs in seconds," he said.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian. His e-mail address is [email protected]


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