November 10, 2008

This is an exclusive interview by - Your source for online backup news and reviews

with Mr. Roland Sars, Co-Founder, Director of Marketing and New Business Development at

Photo: Roland Sars

Please give us some background information about your company.

BackupAgent was founded in the autumn of 2003 by Robbert van Geldrop, Roland Sars and Paul de Grijp [for company management list, click here]. Market trends like the increasing demand for secure backup services and growing broadband-penetration created a vision among the founders. A vision to establish a replacement for the traditional backup methods with a convenient, reliable and internet-based online backup system.

Our core business is the development of State of the Art software that allows an easy backup and restore of data from any device, being a PC, laptop or server, at home or in a company, or a complete server in an office, over the internet or LAN to a secured (remote) location.

Our mission is to enable a selective group of Partners around the globe to offer their customers a fully integrated backup solution. The channel to market strategy allows BackupAgent to focus on developing the best quality software for online backup and restore as well as delivering the appropriate 2nd line support to our global partners who manage their customers.

BackupAgent BV is a privately held company. The management team are the most important stareholders. Another key investor is Solid Ventures. Solid Ventures is a venture investor with an impressive track record with well-known companies such as: Scarlet and Versatel (Euronext:VRSA), Oxxio (LSE:CNA), ITMasters (NYSE:BMC), DataCenterTechnologies (NASDAQ: SYMC) and Dedigate (AMEX:TWW).

BackupAgent’s headquarters are located in Delft, The Netherlands.

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

BackupAgent currently has 30 employees; 15 of them are working in the R&D department. As we are growing very fast, we will probably have 50 employees in total by the end of 2009 of and 25 of them will be in the R&D department.

What is your business model / route to market?

BackupAgent is different than many other parties listed on this website, because we are not a direct-selling company. Companies like Carbonite, Mozy and Keepit sell their online backup service directly to the end-user. BackupAgent does not. Nobody can go to our website and order a backup account and pay with his/her credit card.

BackupAgent is dedicated for 100% to an indirect business model. We sell software and services to channel partners who want to provide their customers with an online backup service.

Ok, I understand. But what kind of end-users use the BackupAgent Software?

The BackupAgent Software is very broad. Our channel partners offer services to large volumes of residential users (consumers), but also freelancers, SOHO and SMB. But on the high-end, there are also medium-to-large enterprises and enterprises using our software.

What kind of channel partners do you have?

BackupAgent has a solution for almost all channel partners in the IT-reselling landscape, in order to cover all potential end-users that I just explained. Let me explain per end-user target group, which channel partner applies.

BackupAgent works a lot with ISPs, Hosting companies and Telco’s. These parties have the infrastructure in place to provide online backup services to large volumes of end-users, at an affordable price. These companies want to create a higher ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) as margins on services like hosting, ADSL, Cable connections are dropping.

SMB/Medium-to-large enterprises
BackupAgent’s main focus is Resellers, Value Added Resellers and Managed Service Providers. These partners traditionally sell tape streamers to their customers and they can massively be replaces by online backup. This is less hassle for the end-users and the Reseller can monitor the backups very easily and remotely. This allows him to set up an SLA-based backup service.

BackupAgent works with several System Integrators. These solution providers deliver our software as a service to companies with thousands of employees with laptops that are not adopted in the usual backup routines. Moreover these companies have branch and country offices that need to be backed up.

Why did you choose an indirect business model?

For many reasons; in the core, we are a software company. This route to market allows us to focus on our core competence; develop software, sell software and support software.
Secondly, many of our channel partners have a trust relationship with their business customers.

This means that with their advisory role, their customers will use the products that their supplier advises. Many SMB companies will not just turn to an web-based provider to provide a business continuity solution.

The third reason is that people, whether companies or consumers, prefer a one-stop-shop; one supplies for multiple services and all services on one invoice. As many providers already have a billing relationship with their customers, it’s relatively easy to add another product on it.

Lastly, many channel partners want to adopt products in their portfolio with a competitive edge. They want to have an offering that their competitors don’t have (yet). An online backup product is such a solution.

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

The customer base of BackupAgent today (November 2008) is mainly in Europe. However, we have users all over the globe; Europe, Africa, Australia and also in the US. In the USA, we work with several service providers who offer online backup services based on our software platform.

What makes your company and its service different from others?

In the core, the product itself is similar. However, the route-to-market of BackupAgent is unique. With our software, companies can build their own online backup platform, with their own brand. So, in fact, we are the engine behind service providers who want to build their own online backup service. “Powered by BackupAgent” is our motto.

Does the BackupAgent software have specific features for the business market?

Yes. Companies have servers. File servers, Exchange servers (mail) and SQL servers (databases). The software of BackupAgent optionally contains features for the business market;

  • MS Exchange Backup plugin: an Exchange Server is continuously operational. Therefore BackupAgent can backup the Exchange database without interrupting business operations; a HOT backup. Even the backup and restore of individual mailboxes and folders is possible.
  • MS SQL Backup plugin:an easy backup of business critical databases. The backup can be performed during business operations; a HOT backup.
  • Seed-load technology:this allows the initial backup of a large volume of data to a local hard drive, which can be shipped to the Backup Server, to eliminate the first backup over the internet of hours/days/weeks.
  • Pre & Post scripts: you can program a script prior or after the backup or restore to backup specific platforms or applications.

Off course we have many more features, but I recommend all readers to just take a free trial account on our website.

What platforms does BackupAgent support?

In short: Windows, Linux and Mac.

Windows: PC versions Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP, Windows Vista and server versions Windows Server 2000/2003 (Small Business Server). BackupAgent Client Software is certified by Microsoft for Windows Vista and Windows XP.

Linux: Most popular Linux versions, such as RedHat, SuSE and Debian (and Debian based systems such as Ubuntu).

Mac: Workstation and Mac OS X Server platforms; Mac OS X 10.4.10 and higher (Tiger) and Mac OS X 10.5.0 and higher (Leopard). Great thing about the Mac client software is that for die-hard MAC-users it feels like coming home; the layout is just like you are used to on your Mac.

You rely on the success of your channel partners. Do you support them?

Yes we do. We are well aware of the need of successful partners in order to be successful ourselves. That philosophy is running through the veins of all people in our company.

BackupAgent is 100% committed to an indirect sales model and has an extensive partner program. The BackupAgent Partner Program offers:

  • Branded software solutions
  • Joint marketing and press activities
  • Co-selling activities
  • Commercial expertise on market opportunities
  • Intensive training programs
  • Partner-only technology recourses
  • Dedicated, first-class, sales, technical and marketing support

BackupAgent acts more like a Partner itself than as a supplier and our current partners will endorse that!

Which companies are your main sales partners globally?

BackupAgent has hundreds of partners that have a strong position in their local market. But BackupAgent also works closely with large strategic partners, such as Atos Origin (one of the largest System Integrators in Europe), Smarthost (a Swedish SaaS distributor) and DS3 DataVaulting (a leading backup provider from the US).

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

It’s funny that you mention it. Security has been one of the key points of attention when we started developing our software. Many potential customers are worried; where is my data physically? who has access to it? and is it stored in a secure manner?. I can truly say that I believe that BackupAgent is the most secure software available in the market.

Our software is protected from threats of the internet or unauthorized users, by SSL, 256-bit AES encryption and SOAP-messaging. These security measures have been researched by a Security Scan of TNO, an expert organization in the field of technical innovations.

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

BackupAgent started off by the end of 2003. The number of players in the market was very small in those days. We were quite early. But this gave us the opportunity to develop our software and our offering along with the evolving market.

In 2004 and 2005 the market started developing and people were getting less hesitant to backup their data off site. During 2006 and 2007 the market awareness surged. Many service providers, resellers and value added resellers started offering online backup services to the market and the adoption was very high.

In 2008 the SaaS-phenomena became generally accepted as the future. This shift in mind-setting by the end-users has been very beneficial for online backup and BackupAgent.

For the years to come I expect online backup to become a commodity in all market segments; corporates, SMBs, SOHO, freelancers and consumers. By 2012 nobody will remember what it was like when there was no online backup.

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

BackupAgent has been experiencing very high growth rates; 300% per year in the last 3 years. I expect we cannot keep up with this rate the next years, but a yearly growth of 150-200% is expected.

Whom do you consider your competitors?

BackupAgent is not like other online backup providers. We don’t deliver online backup services directly to customers. We provide a software platform to our partners (Service Providers and Resellers) and enable them to offer online backup services to their customers. Our partners have their own brand and logo, and the BackupAgent-brand is not visible anymore. Therefore, our customers could be seen as our competitors.

Are there any new products/services you are developing that will soon be available?

Yes, we are busy developing our next generation online backup software, that will contain many more features, for example central administration of all backup accounts but also a easy tool for mass deployment of the client with large user groups. Additionally we are developing replication software (for the backup of the backup) and a 100% consumer client that is very dummy proof.

Any advice for IT companies planning to launch an online data backup and storage business?

Yes! We see that many SMB companies want to purchase services and solutions from companies they are familiar with and they can trust. Therefore BackupAgent enables resellers, VARs, local IT Services companies and Service providers to offer a continuity solution to their SMB customers.

Now that we know about you, we want to ask you about us. As you know is the ONLY website providing information about the top 25 online backup companies on a monthly basis. We have more than 400 backup companies listed in our directory. We have been in the online backup information since 2004. How can we improve our website and its services?

I think you are doing a wonderful job. Just like us, you have been around for a while and you have been able to see the market growing. Therefore you are able to give a good overview of the market. I’d see; keep up the good work. And for the improvements; I suggest you list BackupAgent in your monthly top 25 soon.
Ed: We sincerely thank Ronald for this interview opportunity.



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