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November 17, 2008

This is an exclusive interview by BackupReview.info
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http://www.Remote-Backup.com

with Mr. Robert Cosgrove, CEO of Remote-Backup Systems, Inc.

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Photo: Rob Cosgrove

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.

Remote Backup Systems, Inc. is unique in the industry because rather than offering Online Backup Services, we write the software that makes it possible for other companies to offer Online Backup Services. That’s how the company started, and after 21 years, that’s how we continue to do business.

RBS is responsible for putting the majority of current Online Backup providers in business.

I founded the company in 1985 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. I wrote the first online backup software for mini- and microcomputers, and published the first Remote Backup software for Service Providers. More info here: http://remote-backup.com/about.htm

We are headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee USA and have a dedicated development and support office in Chennai, India.

We’ve had many “Firsts” in the business.

We performed the very first Remote Backup over telephone lines and modems in the mid-eighties, the very first wireless remote backup, the very first satellite remote backup, the first remote backup from an airplane, a sailboat, a cell phone, and an erupting volcano. Just to prove they can do anything, the geeks in our lab even did a backup over tin-cans and a string using modified 110 baud telephone modems and custom-built microphones. They used a ham radio to bounce a backup off the moon and back to Earth, where it was successfully restored.

1987 – First Commercial Remote Backup. The first commercial remote backup backed up a departmental database of a local hospital to the RBS Development Lab in Memphis. The very first disaster recovery successfully restored the department’s entire database the day after a lightning strike destroyed its Server.

1993 – First Internet Remote Backup and Restore. RBS completed the very first remote backup over the brand new “Internet” from Chicago through Atlanta to Memphis.

2004 – World’s LONGEST Remote Backup and Restore – 88,964 Miles using a backup satellite ground station and the standard commercial Remote Backup product, RBackup, RBS successfully completed an 88,964-mile backup and restore that used two round-trip hops from Memphis to the G4R satellite orbiting 22,241 miles overhead.

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

80% of our 8800 Service Providers are in the United States. The others are spread around 64 countries.

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

We have 33 employees. Half are in R&D. I run this company like a think tank in a Google-like atmosphere. Everyone’s opinion carries the same weight, right down to the housecleaning service. I pay higher than average salaries, and keep a full kitchen stocked with the best coffees and snacks. There’s a game room with pinball, an Xbox 360, and some other toys.

Everywhere around the building there are impromptu meetings, where people exchange ideas and solve problems. Yesterday a couple of guys almost spilled blood while trying to solve perpetual motion.

What does that have to do with Online Backup? Nothing, as far as I can tell. But it’s the “process” that counts, and I have no doubt the conversation will ad something positive to the mix.

4/BR: What are your top selling account packages, and why are they enjoying so much success?

People who buy from us use our products to start or expand their Online Backup services. Most of our customers start out buying small packages of 25 to 200 clients. This means that they can offer Remote Backup services for 25 to 200 end users.

We sell our software for a one-time licensing fee that covers one RBS server and a number of client licenses. There are no recurring annual fees, unless our service providers want to renew their maintenance subscription for upgrades, which isn’t required.

This allows our providers a quick ROI and tightly controlled costs with higher margins, without the high recurring costs charged by our colleagues in the business.

Our customers usually upgrade from these smaller packages after their first six months or year. Many of our Service Providers have thousands of clients. Just one of our RBS Servers with proper hardware can handle up to 10,000 clients, depending on the size of backups.

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

Now remember, we don’t offer online backup services. We provide software for the majority of those who do. RBS is quite different from our colleagues who offer similar software. There are only a small handful of us. I’ll answer your question from my own perspective as a vendor, and then from the perspective of one of our service providers.

EXPERIENCE – First and foremost, RBS invented the industry. We have (by far) the most market share, and the most service providers. We stay in touch with our Service Providers, so we know at any moment the real market conditions they are facing. So, reason number one – RBS simply knows more about what it takes to succeed in the industry than anyone else in it, and we love to share that information. Possibly as important, our deep experience has also taught us what it takes for a backup service to fail.

TECHNOLOGY – Secondly, we have put all of our experience, and that of our thousands of Service Providers over 21 years, into our R&D efforts. As a result, our software is the best at solving the real-world problems of online backup providers and their customers. We have consistently led the market with innovations that have then been reproduced by our colleagues to include in their software. This healthy process improves the service for end users and is good for the industry as a whole.

SUPPORT – Thirdly, only one of our competitors (we prefer the term colleagues) is in the United States. The others are in time zones that are at least 12 hours away from United States business hours. Since we service mainly the USA, this makes us far more convenient to 80% of our customers than the others. While our US office can help a US customer by phone within 5 minutes, the others often take 48 hours to answer a simple question by email. Our office in India (12.5 hours ahead of us) can handle the other half of the planet.

PRICING – Fourthly, RBS has developed a pricing model that is more liberal, flexible, and more profitable for our Service Providers. Since RBS writes our own software instead of licensing it from other companies, unlike our colleagues, we don’t have to pay royalty fees that inflate our prices. Thus, our pricing is far lower than anyone else in our market, and we have more leeway for cutting deals.

Our colleagues use a variety of pricing models that are different from ours, and I think ours is better.

  • Charging Service Providers for the amount of data their clients store; Try as I have, I cannot understand why this model works. However, the company who uses it does a healthy business, so go figure.
  • Charging Service Providers annually for a license to use their software, which is equivalent to the initial purchase price; This isn’t working very well for one of the companies using it. Because of the high ongoing fees, many of their service providers bail out in their second or third years and come to us.
  • “Leasing” licenses; One company in our space can offer a cost of entry as low as ours by charging monthly fees for the use of client licenses and add-ons. This allows for a low startup cost, but the heavy ongoing fees make it difficult to be profitable, according to their service providers.
  • Charging for customization; RBS is the only company in our space that allows an extremely high level of customization and branding as a standard feature. Others charge $5000 and more, and none allow the extremely advanced branding that RBS offers. This is also one of the reasons RBS isn’t really well known. While we’ve been around a while, and own the most market share, our software looks and acts differently for each Service Provider.
  • Charging for the core software, and separately for add-ons; All of our colleagues charge this way. RBS does not. For example, one colleague charges $5100 for a 200-client package that backs up only desktop computers, not Servers. It doesn’t include an open files manager, agents for backing up Exchange, SQL Server, System State, Active Directory, or any other special file systems. RBS charges the same $5100 (one time fee) for a 200-client system that includes Servers and all the agents. Our colleague charges $13,500 per year for a full-featured package like ours.

From the perspective of our Service Providers, our solution is superior for their end users because they can afford to offer full-featured services at lower prices, with software that has been improved over 21 years’ time, and tested in the fires of practicality with millions of users.

Our Service Providers spend far less on customer support and have an average of more than twice the number of end users of our competitors. Because our software simply runs day in and day out without the need for servicing, our Service Providers’ customers are “sticky”. They stay with their service providers longer because their backups and restores simply work.

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

Right. And those issues are at the very core of every decision I’ve made when designing our software. For high security applications, RBS software will compress and encrypt data on the Client computer using an encryption key known only to the end user, and an encryption method selected by the end user from six available (including 448 Blowfish). The encryption key is never sent to the Server.

Further, the software will strip off the file and folder names, separately store and index them, and encrypt them using the same encryption key and method. Data are transmitted to the RBS Server and stored in encrypted and compressed format designed for maximum search and retrieval speed and deduplication.

Files can only be restored using the correct security credentials and encryption key.

Thus, our software is as security-compliant as any online backup software can be, and there is absolutely no way, even if the RBS Server or the Internet connection is compromised, that unauthorized people can access the raw data.

RBS produces several remote backup products that range from this high-security software I’ve just described to leaner and slightly more friendly products that address the security concerns of home users.

In our 21 year history, with many petabytes backed up and restored, there has never been a breach of security with one of our products.

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

When I first started my business in 1985, I had to sell software by explaining to people why their potential customers needed to back up (at all). Then I had to explain why backing up remotely was a good idea for people who were using slow telephone modems long before the Internet.

I’ll tell you, it was really hard trying to convince people in the 80′s that the remote backup business was going to thrive. I might as well have been describing an iPhone to people still using rotary-dial telephones.

Two years ago, I predicted the great renaissance of the online backup industry. My business picked up dramatically as large-scale companies like Mozy and Carbonite spent millions on advertising. I predicted (as did other industry analysts) a wave of M&A right about the time EMC bought Mozy. A few companies were gobbled up.

Then the economy stumbled, just as things were heating up in our sector. Acquisitions slowed down as money became tighter. There were a few high-profile deals like SwapDrive, but nothing like the feeding frenzy most of us thought was coming.

While my sales of new accounts has temporarily slowed, interestingly, my sales of additional Client licenses and higher user-counts in initial purchases have increased. Our research shows the market currently expanding for existing service providers and for companies willing to shell out more money to get started with large offerings.

I think that as the world economy recovers and consumer confidence increases over the next 18 months, M&A activity will pick up to the levels we expected pre-July 2008, and smaller service providers (less than 250 clients) will feel more like taking the risk.

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

For the past six years, and until February 2008, RBS grew at a comfortable rate of about 150% per year. This declined steadily and as predicted from an unsustainable 300% in 2001. Currently, we are in a slump of about 122% growth rate, consistent with the downturn in the world economy.

Because of several new products and partnerships, an expected economic upswing beginning in Q1 2009, and the forecast growth rate of the industry, I expect a company growth rate of 350% for 2009, 200% for 2010, and 200% for 2011.

9/BR: Whom do you consider your main competitors? And Why?

Our competitors are companies who put Online Backup businesses in business. One of them is Asigra, a company I happen to like. There are a few smaller companies trying to write software essentially like mine, but they haven’t presented a challenge to us.

My customers, however, are seeing competition from Mozy, iBackup, Data Deposit Box, and many of the others you have highlighted in your blog. The software produced by RBS is flexible enough to compete in high-end markets with Asigra, while at the same time presenting a formidable challenge in low-end markets with Mozy.

Service providers using various versions of RBS software are successfully competing in all markets.

10/BR: Large companies like Microsoft and Google have started to offer online storage solutions. Do you fear them? How can you compete with such formidable adversaries?

I “fear” very little. (OK, I’m a little afraid of Donald Trump’s hair.) Rather, I see companies like these as opportunities to raise the public’s awareness of online backup as a viable solution; to push the technology further; as potential partners; and as storage vendors. A rising tide lifts all ships.

For example, I recently announced a version of RBS software that runs on Amazon’s EC2 service, with persistent snapshot archiving by EBS and 15 cents/Gig cloud storage by S3. I then produced an AMI which makes it so easy to launch a new online backup service that it can be done in literally 10 minutes. All of a sudden, big scary Amazon is an ally.

RBS has a product that lives on a USB memory stick, and backs up any computer it is plugged into directly to Amazon’s S3 cloud storage service, making further use of Amazon.

Google and Microsoft may have cheap storage services that look scary at first, but when you look further you see that they don’t have an adequate client-side agent. So, they present both an opportunity for software developers and a big competitive fault to be mined by the marketing guys.

11/BR: There has been a great deal of M&A activity in the industry during the last few years [such as Xdrive being acquired by AOL, Microsoft acquiring FolderShare, Iron Mountain acquiring LiveVault, and Seagate acquiring eVault, EMC acquiring Mozy, and Symantec acquiring SwapDrive (Backup.com)]. What is your strategy? Do you think that the acquiring companies got a good deal or the acquired companies sold too soon for too low?

I have answered part of this question in previous answers, so I’ll take a long opinionated view with this one.

I question the real reasons and the terms behind some of these acquisitions.

For example, Mozy was worth nowhere near $76M. That was a ridiculous deal, on the face of it. At the time, most of the hundreds of thousands of customers they bragged about were trial users. Their conversion rate had to be lower than 5%, maybe as low as 1%.

Think about it – a conversion was worth only $60/year. How are you going to adequately run a company that needs infrastructure and staff to service hundreds of thousands of clients who need a lot of hand-holding on that kind of money?

Customers willing to pay only $4.95/month will jump to another provider at the drop of a hat. So, with less than adequate customer support, and a lot of competition around that price point, I just don’t see the attraction for a $76M purchase.

Mozy spent little on advertising, relying instead on an initially liberal affiliate program that produced A LOT of blog spam, which artificially increased their link count. As a result they zoomed to the top of Google’s native search results for their top key phrase, “Online Backup”.

They landed near the top for their second best key phrase, “Remote Backup”. They didn’t get first place because I’ve had it since Google came online, without artificially inflating my link counts or redirecting fake blog entries like Mozy is doing now.

Their artificial SE position then helped them gain additional traffic and they were able to turn down their affiliate marketing efforts.

Mozy has dropped the bar in our industry so low at $4.95/month that, for a time, it’s making it a little difficult for the rest of us who still retain a bit of sanity and pride in the business. People at the low-end of the business who don’t know better are drinking the Mozy coolaid without question, and we’re left trying to explain why that’s not a good thing.

I guess it’s obvious I have a bit of a personal issue with the way Mozy does business, and what they’ve done to the industry I founded.

EMC’s stock price peaked at a little over $25 in the 30 days after they bought Mozy. Since then it has dropped fairly steadily to around $13.

Anyway, I think there was more to that Mozy deal than we were told, but I’m not going to start rumors by speculating about it in public.

Bad deal, nobody won. (except maybe Josh Coats, ex CEO of Mozy)

Alternately, I think $123M for SwapDrive made sense. SwapDrive has been around for a while. They have a stable platform and paying customers. There was no doubt that Symantec needed an online backup service.

I think Symantec paid a fair price for an asset that they desperately needed, didn’t have time to develop, certainly had the resources to promote better than SwapDrive did, and had a huge built-in, security-conscious client base – a large percentage of whom were going to buy online backup services from somebody.

Good deal, everybody wins.

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

Thanks for asking! Is this where I get to plug a new product?

I have a brand-new online backup platform designed to compete directly with, and beat the pants off of, the low-end really cheap services. Our Mercury platform is designed to allow Service Providers to offer low-priced services for home users and small businesses.

The extremely light Mercury Agents run in native code on Macs and PCs, and soon Linux. You can back up to a Mac, and restore to Windows. Back up to Windows, restore to Mac. Of course you can restore to the same platform from which you backed up.

Mercury is a high-capacity system capable of serving hundreds of thousands of end users. It requires little maintenance, and offers security features that simply haven’t been available in ANY online backup product until now.

Mercury’s Remote Security Suite can help find lost laptops – and more.

Suppose your laptop is stolen. Sure, with other products you can restore your files to another computer. Mercury can do that, too, so what? Your laptop is still missing, and so are all your valuable files with personal information like credit card numbers, company data, and maybe even data covered by government security and privacy regulations like HIPAA, SOX, and GLB. Maybe your competitor took your computer. Your company could be subject to massive fines and loss of business. You could be fired.

Mercury can solve even those problems.

  • Mercury can help locate your stolen laptop without an onboard GPS.
  • Mercury can use your laptop’s onboard camera to snap a picture of the thief and upload it silently as soon as he/she opens it up.
  • Mercury can protect your computer’s files from being opened and the data itself stolen.
  • Mercury can silently and quickly encrypt your files by remote, or shred them with military-grade file erasure technology.
  • Mercury can even format your hard drive by remote as a last resort.
  • Yes, Mercury can even back up and restore your files.

Can any other product of any type do that? I think not.

You can have a look at a Mercury system in service at http://backupmax.com/personal.htm

13/BR: Where do you see the online backup market heading?

This is where I get to look into my time machine.

In the future, most of the computers with human interfaces will be portable – laptops, palmtops, smart phones, in-vehicle computers, computers in eye glasses, in our ears, computers built into everything. We will want to move from computer to computer throughout the day, and we will want to share one another’s computers.

We’ll log into our workspace through biometrics on the computer in our vehicles, and find it just the way we left it when we logged out on the one built into the table at Starbuck’s.

Rather than carry our data around with us, most of the important data will be stored centrally, away from the computers themselves. Remote backup will take place at the data repository, and there will be no operator interface.

OK, but before we get to 2025 a percentage of online backup will move into the cloud – over at Amazon, or Microsoft, or Google. This isn’t to say that Amazon, Microsoft, and Google will eat up the market.

These giants are going to need Service Providers to partner with them to sell and install their services. They’re also going to need technology partners to develop CRM systems and specialized user agents.

Backing up computers isn’t just clicking a link, paying your money, and that’s that. A huge and lucrative part of the market – small businesses – are still going to need someone to design the proper backup strategy and protocol for their specific needs; then install and test the service, monitor it, test regularly, and change settings it as businesses evolve.

The future looks very bright for independent and boutique Online Backup Service Providers. I wouldn’t worry about Mozy or Carbonite or any of them.

14/BR: Which companies are your main sales partners globally?

RBS sells to and supports our Service Providers ourselves. We are going to be announcing an affiliate program soon, and we are currently looking for a solution for channel partnering. So, if you know of a channel consultant who is excited about this sector, send him or her my way.

15/BR: How many subscribers do you have?

RBS has 8800 Service Providers. Our best guess (based on the average number of active clients per licensed client) is about 1.5 million end users.

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

Our Service Providers report an average of 650MB per client. This ranges from 1MB to many terabytes.

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

No!

18/BR: Could you briefly tell us about your revenue history, and what your future revenue growth would be?

We don’t discuss our revenues publicly.

19/BR: How does your proprietary technology compare to the proprietary technology of your main competitors?

Well, obviously, I think we’re better, generally. But, I’ll give props to a couple of them. Carbonite does a good job with selecting files and CDP. Asigra is better than us for large corporations.

20/BR: What the most regrettable mistake that you or your company has made in the past? How would you handle that mistake if you were given a second chance?

In 21 years I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

I failed to respect the huge market for low-end backup services that would sell for $5/month. I saw it coming, but thought it would fizzle. In retrospect, I should have started work on my Mercury project a year earlier.

I should have converted many of my products to .NET two years sooner than I did. I made the jump to Web Services later than I should have. I should have listened to my developers a lot closer.

I continued to invest in data center technology, including big, expensive storage arrays, even as the economy started to stumble and there were rumors of cheap cloud storage ahead (now here). I should have spent more time reading the industry publications and I should have begun development on cloud-aware products six months sooner than I did.

There’s some commonality here – I clearly don’t listen to my geeks closely enough, I don’t read enough of those free industry periodicals that pile up here, and I don’t go to enough trade shows. I’ll fix all that.

21/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?

What is the price today? It ranges from fifteen cents a gig, to over $15 a gig, depending on what kind of agent is doing the work, and what kinds of services are bundled with it. At fifteen cents a gig, you get something like Jungle Disk, and you have to manage your own space on S3.

At $15/gig you get a full service live expert who can help you properly manage your backups, software that backs up open files, Exchange, Notes, Oracle, SQL Server, and bare metal. Your files will be 100% secure, de-duped, signed, sub-file backed up, restorable from the web, washed, dried, and delivered on a silver platter.

In a perfect online backup world, price would depend far more on the quality of service than on the cost of the storage. In fact, I predict that because of financial pressures in the storage market and increasing bandwidth, raw storage will be mostly in the cloud, and prices to online backup providers will be negligible.

Sitting here now, I am finding it very difficult to imagine the end-user price of a service like I mentioned two paragraphs above falling more than 15% within the next five years.

Of course, the cheap services like Mozy are commoditized, so who knows what they’ll do? I wouldn’t invest in a company who used a model like that, not these days. I am surprised and happy that Carbonite has been able to attract so much venture money. Good goin’, Dave!

I think within five years we’ll see raw cloud storage down below five cents a gig, maybe two cents. I don’t know how that will translate to the end user’s cost. My guess is that it won’t make too much of a difference.

22/BR: What do you see as the greatest challenges facing your company today? And what are your biggest accomplishments so far?

Large online backup companies should have already started planning for more competition from other large companies getting into the business. I don’t think there will be the big shake-out some have predicted.

Small and boutique service providers have the wind in their sails and smooth seas if they sell their services on expertise, service, and market niche rather than on price.

As a software provider, my greatest challenge right now is convincing potential online backup service providers that those large companies like Mozy, Google, and the others are going to take a segment of the market that my service providers don’t want – bargain hunters.

I need to convince people that even after all these years and the hype of the past three, we are looking at only the tip of the online backup iceberg. There’s now more room than ever for companies entering the market, and our part of the market is not particularly price sensitive.

My biggest accomplishment? I started all this! How’s that for big?

23/BR: What are the key competing technologies and what are some of the advantages you offer over the competition?

This drives me crazy! From end users’ perspectives, all online backup software and services are essentially the same. OK, that’s an over-generalization, but let’s use it anyway.

One of my competitors (sorry, “colleagues”) sells software that he advertises as “Backs up Microsoft Exchange”. Well, I also advertise my software as “Backs up Exchange”. However, what my esteemed colleague doesn’t tell you is that he simply shells out to NTBackup, then sends its output offsite without further processing. Cheap and quick, but it sends the entire file every time, isn’t secure, and can’t be granularly restored.

I, on the other hand, did things the right way by spending tens of thousands of dollars writing a proper Exchange agent that backs up and restores individual Exchange objects in total integration with my encryption, compression, and file retention management modules.

Obviously my technology is far superior to his. But, in the confusing world of marketing, have I wasted all that time and money? Imagine explaining the above two paragraphs to a potential customer. If I do, I sell from a position of weakness, defending my superior technology while trashing my competitor’s product, sounding shrill and bitter the whole time.

All my customer sees is, “backs-up-exchange, so they must both be the same, but here’s this guy from RBS trashing his competitor over something I can’t understand.”

And there’s SO much to understand that I risk making my software look too complicated to operate if I explain it all honestly in thousands of pages on a web site while my competitor is sitting on his little unexplained “backs up exchange”.

Here’s another one. I’ve spent tens of thousands on a file system driver that lets RBS software back up open and locked files, even when they are in heavy use. It works with ALL applications, not just those that are VSS-aware, and not just on computers that have Windows XP and Vista. Mine works on all Windows, 2000 and greater, including 64 bit systems, workstations and Servers. So, I advertise my software as “backs up open files.”

My competitors (every last one of them, even Mozy) rely on Microsoft’s VSS service to back up open files. This limits the operating systems their software can run on, and it limits the files they can back up. And these aren’t just some minor nuisances.

These are major, critical limits that I think approach the level of “flaws” that customers really need to know about in order to make an informed decision about something as important as protecting their businesses.

Again, however, it is difficult to make a prospect read a page of technical stuff, and even more difficult to know what criteria he’s using to compare us. I’m doing it right, and while some competitors are not actually doing it “wrong,” they aren’t telling their customers the whole truth, either.

Comparison matrixes help, and we’ve got them. For some companies in our industry, unfortunately, technology is whatever they say it is, as long as customers who aren’t going to check any further believe them. I prefer to risk sounding shrill and publish thousands of pages of technical stuff.

Our built-in agents are better than almost everyone else’s. Our sub-file backup module, encryption and compression, open file driver, the Remote Security Suite that can locate lost computers and help prosecute thieves, our production of native code for three diverse platforms – This is all technology that has been developed with 21 years of in-service experience.

I’d have to talk for days to finish this comparison.

24/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?

Now remember, RBS doesn’t offer online backup services. However, we do host online backup services for a number of our customers.

RBS maintains two data centers near Memphis, Tennessee. One is in our head office, and the other is 20 miles away. They contain stacks of identical Dell servers and 45TB each of RAIDed Dell storage arrays. We run Oracle 11g to back-end our own business systems and our hosted servers in a proprietary file system.

The data centers are mirrored in near real time over a dedicated line, and are both fault tolerant and fully fail-over capable. They are climate controlled and have their own electrical systems, static halos, automatic fire suppression, and backup power.

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

I got a good plug in a few pages ago. I’m happy with that.

26/BR: Xdrive recently announced that it is getting out of the online backup business. Do you have any comment on that?

It doesn’t worry me, if that’s what you mean, and it shouldn’t worry anyone else. As a cost-cutting measure, it made sense. I don’t think that service was ever monetized properly.

27/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?

As a provider of online backup software, I am really happy to see this. I think it’s a logical next step for banks, and it makes me smile every time I read something like your question. Because, you know who’s going to sell the banks those systems? That’s right – me!

I’ve already put most of those small companies that you mentioned in business. I can absolutely tell you, strait from the front lines, that the online backup market is not now, nor will it ever be, saturated.

New computers are coming online too fast for us to keep up with them. Storage is moving online faster than I can produce new Online Backup Services. Niche markets are opening up quicker than I can produce software to fill them.

The pool of customers to draw from is getting larger and more diverse. The big guys are doing a pretty good job of selling Online Backup as a necessary solution. No single service can possibly provide all the features that all customers need. There’s plenty of room for new business.

The need for new, specialized and even general-market online backup services is expanding, and will continue to expand.

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

Yes indeed. Read back through this interview and see why I’m so excited about this business and its future. Call RBS and ask us questions. Sure, have a look at those other guys, but then do the right thing with a company that does the right thing – give me your credit card number.

29/ On a personal note, tell us about your life: married or single, children, your hobbies, where you get your inspiration, and whether you will be around in this business, say 5 years from now?

I don’t mind getting personal. I’m 53, married, 2 kids, three dogs, a cat, and two horses. I like British cars, SCUBA, and I’m a private pilot. I’m an amateur volcanologist and like to travel to photograph active volcanoes.

I like to read Charles Bukowski and Billy Collins, Marcel Proust and Norman Mailer. My favorite TV shows are Sons of Anarchy, 24, NCIS, Saturday Night Live, Dexter, and just about anything on Adult Swim, except the really weird stuff.

I’m inspired by people who are smarter, wiser, and have higher moral values than I do. I try to see wisdom in everything and everyone. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but I try.

Five years from now I’ll be in this same office, doing the same thing. I love this stuff. I like the challenge of R&D and I like watching the industry evolve.

30/BR: Now that we know about you, we want to ask you about us. As you know BackupReview.info 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?

On your Top 25 page, I think it would be useful to add credibility to your rankings by telling us your criteria for judging the companies on the list right at the top of the page.

It might be useful to separate the service providers from the vendors. For example, Data Deposit Box is a Service Provider, while my company and Novastor (as Novastor are linked from their ad on your web site) are vendors.

It might be useful for more credibility if you’d brag a little about how many visitors your site gets.

Currently your front page is missing a </a> tag somewhere.

I like the new Blog format. I read the CEO interviews. I’m subscribed to your feed, so I read that twice a day. I like the speed at which you pick up new articles, and the surgical nature of your selections.

==========
Ed: Our unique traffic and Alexa ranking are displayed on the right columns of the site. The criteria on how we pick our top 25 online backup companies are currently listed at the bottom of the “top 25″ list. We have no problem moving the criteria from the bottom to the top of the list. Regarding the syntax error in our home page, we use Mozilla FF at our end and did not notice the error. However, after checking our home page using IE, we have now corrected the syntax and fixed the error.

We sincerely thank Rob for his valuable feedback.

© November 2008 BackupReview.info

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