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September 29, 2008

This is an exclusive interview by BackupReview.info
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http://www.AmeriVault.com

with Mr. Bud Stoddard, President and CEO of AmeriVault Online Backup

Photo: Bud Stoddard President and CEO of AmeriVault Online Backup

1/BR: Please give us some background information about your company, such as how it was founded, by whom, how long have you been around, where your headquarters are, how many branch offices you have etc.

One of the first to offer online backup, AmeriVault was founded in 1998 by Bud Stoddard and Co-Founder Kevin Harris.  AmeriVault is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts with datacenters located in Waltham, Massachusetts; Wood Dale, Illinois; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Springfield, Missouri.  In addition, AmeriVault has remote offices in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Springfield, Missouri; New York City, New York; and Baltimore, Maryland.

AmeriVault offers remote data protection and email services, including:

  • Online Backup: Three service levels to meet any recovery objective or price point.
  • High Availability & Replication: Instant failover for systems that cannot withstand downtime.
  • Hosted Disaster Recovery: Remote, virtualized recovery infrastructure for accelerated DR.
  • Data Archiving & Lifecycle Solutions: A tier of affordable archival storage for aging data.
  • Email Archiving: Compliant, policy-based email archiving to speed eDiscovery.
  • Email Continuity: Standby, emergency email services delivered via a web-based interface.
  • Hosted Exchange: Managed email services featuring integrated collaboration tools.

AmeriVault was acquired by PHNS in April 2008 and operates as an independent subsidiary.  Today, AmeriVault maintains its position as a leader in managed data protection and offsite storage services, including online backup, disk-based recovery, high availability, email archiving, and data lifecycle solutions.  Backed by a SAS 70 (Type II) certification, AmeriVault’s solutions employ aggressive security and redundancy safeguards while ensuring business continuity, seamless disaster recovery, and regulatory compliance.

Whether data requires continuous data protection or data archiving, AmeriVault’s solutions are tailored according to data value, lifecycle, regulated attributes, and recovery objectives, as well as desired redundancies and price points.  AmeriVault combines the highest levels of customer service, premium solutions, award-winning software, and secure world-class datacenters to deliver Excellence in Data Protection.®

2/BR: Is your customer base primarily in the US, or is there a significant international presence as well?

  • 90% United States
  • 10% International

3/BR: How many employees do you have and how big is your R&D department?

50 Employees

  • 15% R&D
  • 25% Support Engineers

4/BR: What makes your company and its service different from others?

  • Commitment to Recovery: AmeriVault is proud of its exemplary recovery record. In addition, many of our services are tailored to meet the specific recovery requirements of our customers. We offer more services to speed recovery and enhance business continuity than any other service provider we know.
  • Multiple Levels of Service for Most Offerings: AmeriVault customers can choose a service to meet their needs and desired price points.
  • Full Suite of Data Protection & Email Services: Allows clients to reduce vendor and SLA management.
  • Discounts for Bundled Services: Not only do we have a comprehensive suite of data protection and email services, but we also offer discounts when clients signup for multiple services.
  • Experienced Technical Support: As an online backup pioneer, AmeriVault has seen it all and assisted countless customers with disaster recoveries and other mission-critical projects. AmeriVault is truly an exception in the industry – when you call for support, you actually get to talk to a live support engineer without any hassles. And since we’ve been doing this just about as long as anybody in the industry has, we can handle any technical project quickly and professionally.

5/BR: One of the biggest concerns of online backup users is data security and privacy. How have you addressed those issues?

AmeriVault ensures stringent security and privacy via encryption, physical security measures, infrastructure redundancy, and many other techniques that exceed the security levels utilized by most other solutions.  Backed by a SAS 70 (Type II) certification, our infrastructure features redundancy at every level, multiple tiers of firewall and network perimeter defense, and 24/7 vault and bandwidth monitoring.

Regarding encryption, 256-bit AES encryption is available to protect data in flight and at rest.  Data is always encrypted, and clients have the only decryption key.  AmeriVault has no “back door” method to access client data.  Data is transmitted in non-linear encrypted blocks for additional security; the data is essentially “chopped up” and transmitted non-contiguously so any unauthorized decryption attempts will provide incoherent information.  Of course, customer accounts are also protected by a username and password combination, providing access for authorized personnel only.

6/BR: How has the online backup business evolved in the past few years, and how do you see it further evolving?

We have noticed a trend toward self-serve, Software-as-a-Service-based online backup offerings – and AmeriVault is concerned that many businesses are forgetting that recovery is not something that can be handled properly using this model.  We strongly feel that many businesses will try one of these “value providers” offering SaaS online backup, realize the limitations of the service regarding recovery and technical support, and seek-out a leading provider like AmeriVault that takes care of its customers and truly cares when they experience a disaster or outage.

7/BR: What kind of growth rate have you been experiencing? And what is your expected growth rate for the next few years?

AmeriVault has enjoyed double-digit growth since its inception in 1998.  We don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

8/BR: How many subscribers do you have?

Currently, AmeriVault has over 800 customers.

9/BR: What is the amount of file you backed up in your servers?

  • Total Data Backed-up: ~150 TB
  • Total Storage Capacity: 535 TB
  • Total Systems Backed-up: ~5000

10/BR: Do you feel that Google will dominate the online storage market?

Perhaps online storage, but not online backup.  Google is a self-serve company with very limited support.  AmeriVault customers value the fact that we’re here for them if they suffer a disaster or experience an outage.  Storage is great, but recovery is key in our business.

11/BR: In the future, say five years from now, do you think the cost of online storage will remain as it is today, or will it go significantly cheaper? For example, to back up a 1 GB file?

Online storage is already given away for free.  I don’t think they’ll start paying you to use it.  However, an important distinction should be made here – online storage is not online backup.  Can you recover every file for every server or user quickly and easily with an online storage service?  The answer is “No.”  The savvy IT professional realizes this – and is probably already an AmeriVault customer.

12/BR: Can you tell us about your servers, please? Where they are located, how many backups you perform, if server room is controlled for humidity, temperature, and whether there is backup power?

Currently, AmeriVault maintains four primary datacenters located in Waltham, Massachusetts; Wood Dale, Illinois; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Springfield, Missouri.  All of AmeriVault’s datacenters feature world-class safeguards and physical security measures to ensure the safety of customer data.

Backed by a SAS 70 (Type II) certification, our infrastructure features redundancy at every level, multiple tiers of firewall and network perimeter defense, and 24/7 vault and bandwidth monitoring.  Our entire network infrastructure is fully redundant and operates in a “high availability” configuration.  This configuration is complete from the diverse, BGP-routed entry points of our multiple Internet carriers all the way to our Mass Storage Vault host systems.

Data is stored on industry leading disk arrays located in state-of-the-art collocation facilities.  Vault storage is comprised of fully redundant SAN infrastructure.  Each storage device is fully redundant and configured in a RAID 5 array.

Each datacenter is monitored and equipped with redundant power and telecommunication supplies, climate controls, and fire suppression systems.

  • Power: Each facility is equipped with utility power backed by automatic UPS power and diesel generators.
  • Fire Suppression: All facilities contain high-sensitivity smoke and heat detection alarm systems and pre-action sprinklers rated for telecommunication or computer room environments. Sub-floor leak detection units are standard.
  • Climate Controls: Under-floor cooling, humidity and temperature controls are monitored with alarm sensors. Redundant conditioning units ensure uniform temperature and humidity.
  • Physical Access: Facilities are secured with security personnel and/or security operations monitors. CCTV, badging systems, and pre-registered escort services are standard.

For customers using AmeriVault’s premium online backup service, AmeriVault-AV, data is also replicated to a second world-class datacenter as an additional data protection and business continuity measure.

13/BR: Any other news about your company you care to share?

AmeriVault just launched two new email-related services:  Email Continuity and Hosted Exchange.

Email Continuity:  Email continuity provides on-demand, web-based email services in the event of an outage to a company’s primary email server or network.  Whether combined with email archiving or used as a stand-alone service, Email Continuity ensures access to most companies’ most critical application – even during issues with hardware, software, or personnel. When combined with email archiving, users have complete webmail functionality as well as access to current and archived messages. When used as a stand-alone service, new activity is enabled but previous email is not accessible.

Hosted Exchange:  AmeriVault’s hosted Microsoft Exchange service provides a cost-effective managed email solution that is ideal for both SMBs and larger businesses.  Our hosted Exchange service includes centralized email, task, collaboration, and calendar tools. For businesses with mobile employees, AmeriVault’s hosted Exchange service is fully interoperable with BlackBerry and other mobile devices. And since our hosted Exchange service centralizes email functions, customers can have access to email, calendars, and collaborative tools – regardless of their location.

14/BR: In the past few years, many small companies and even some banks, such as Wells Fargo, have started offering online backup solutions? Do you think that the online backup market is getting crowded? What do you have to do to stand out of the crowd?

Many businesses like these are AmeriVault resellers.  We have a healthy Channel Partner program that fosters win-win-win business relationships:  Our partners win, we win, and our valued customers win.

We believe that companies branching-out to offer online backup help raise awareness of the benefits of the service, help validate online backup as the best solution for backup, and help customers consolidate vendors and simplify SLA management.

15/BR: Your company got acquired by PHNS recently? Even though the deal amount is not public, do you think you sold to early and/or for less?

I will comment generally about AmeriVault’s recent acquisition by PHNS.

AmeriVault and PHNS, a leading provider of healthcare IT, mutually chose each other as business partners well before the acquisition.  PHNS was looking to establish itself as a trusted data protection provider and show its commitment to secure, compliant solutions; AmeriVault was looking to expand its corporate capabilities and customer reach.  I think it was the perfect fit for both companies

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