October 15, 2012

This is an exclusive interview by BackupReview.info (BR)
BackupReview.info - Your source for online backup news and reviews



with Mrs. Jennifer Walzer, CEO at BUMI Cloud Backup and Recovery

Cloud_Backup_Reviews_Interview_with_Jennifer Walzer
Photo: Jennifer Walzer

Phone, Toll Free: 1-866-444-BUMI (2864)
Phone: +1 (212) 599-7800
Sales Email: sales@bumi.com
Customer Care: support@bumi.com
Website: http://www.bumi.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BackupMyInfo

Company History and Operation

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 or you will have, etc.
BUMI was founded in 2002 after the company I was working at started to close its business doors.  When I looked at what was going on in the industry, I noticed that hard drives were getting bigger and cheaper, bandwidth was getting faster for less money and people were feeling a lot more comfortable conducting business over the Internet without worrying as much about security.  When one of my old clients from a business I had started years ago lost data and needed a better solution, I knew I had to jump into this business right away (my first entrepreneurial business was designing interactive voice response systems for labor unions).  While I didn’t know what the future would hold, I knew that my passion for technology combined with a love of taking care of others made this concept such an attractive business model.  Having been in the IT industry my entire life, I knew how painful it was to restore data using tapes and other manual devices and realized that this opportunity was enormous.  So, I jumped in with both feet, and looking back, starting this business and hiring the most amazing teammates was the best decision I ever made.

Today, BUMI specializes in delivering data continuity solutions for small to mid-sized businesses.  A New York City-based company, BUMI is utilized by professional service organizations, such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms to address critical issues associated with rapid growth of data, business continuity, and regulatory compliance.  Delivering premium customer service – every client is cared for by a team of senior-level engineers dedicated to providing proactive and personalized support – BUMI is uniquely positioned to address the most complex data backup and restore needs.  I’m very proud of all of the awards and accomplishments our team has done over the past 10 years.

2/BR: Is your customer base primarily in the US or Canada, or is there a significant international presence as well?
Our customers are primarily based in the US and Canada with a focus on the New York City metropolitan area.  We do however support a number of clients that are in other countries, primarily because of their locations in the US.  We are looking to expand into Europe through partnerships we have recently built.

3/BR: How many subscribers do you have? 
BUMI currently supports approximately 500 corporate customers.

4/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?
Our data centers are located in state-of-the-art SAS-70 Type II rated data centers in Toronto, and Kelowna, Canada. We utilize NetApp for both locations and have a team monitoring our systems 24×7.  Our facilities are in Tier 4 centers which are protected by 24-hour security, require biometric access for entry, and are engineered to withstand multiple points of failure and still maintain high levels of redundancy.

Company Positioning

5/BR: What makes your company and its service different from others?
BUMI is a premium managed service provider specializing in online data backup and recovery for small to mid size professional service firms. Everything we do is best-of-breed, from our people, processes and technology.  In terms of our team, we go through extensive hiring tests and interviews to make sure the potential employee is not just a technology super star, but is also a great culture fit.  Next, we are always looking at ways to make sure we are providing an extreme white glove service approach to our clients.  Unlike service providers that offer a “set it and forget it” approach to online backups, we are dedicated to proactively protecting clients’ important corporate data.  We believe in taking care of our clients even before we install our software. Each client is paired with a senior-level engineer to receive a complementary tech consultation.  During the consultation, our engineer will help the client analyze the type of data that needs to be backed up, set goals, create a strategy for quick and efficient restores, and make initial storage recommendations based on the client’s budget.  Once the initial backups are performed, clients also receive daily, proactive monitoring of backup activity, instant response time on support requests, and personalized support for ALL restores.  Our only focus is making sure our customers’ data is always protected. And lastly, we only utilize best of breed technology for our clients which includes using NetApp hardware for both our primary and backup data centers and Asigra for our backup software platform.

6/BR: What have been your greatest challenges so far and what do you see these challenges are / will be at the present time and in the coming years? How do you plan to overcome those challenges?
I think there are two challenges that keep me up at night:  One is finding great people to help us continue to build a world-class organization, and two is helping customers understand why we are different and why not all solutions in our industry are the same.  Anyone can say they can backup your data, but restoring it is a whole other story.  Companies that don’t want to take chances with their data come to BUMI.  If anyone reading this article wants to be a part of something special, please contact me because we are growing fast and want serious players to join our fun team!


7/BR: One of the biggest concerns of online backup users is data security and privacy. How have you addressed those issues?
There are several layers of security built into the BUMI service (powered by Asigra).  Our clients’ data is encrypted from the time it leaves their servers and remains encrypted until it is safely back on their machines. Both the client side (customer) and the server side (BUMI) have controls in place that prevent unauthorized data access.

Client Side

  • Clients create an encryption key using military grade AES encryption technology up to 256 bit. This key is unknown to BUMI, which means we can never see their data.
  • The backup client adopts LAN security policies and can only be accessed by those with administrative rights.
  • Data is transmitted and stored in encrypted and compressed format and remains this way at all times.
  • Client/Server authentication protocol ensures that no one can restore data to alternate hardware without authorization, even if they have the encryption code. We will register an account on new hardware only if authorized parties inform us to do so.

Server Side

  • Our servers are located in two different locations in state-of-the-art SAS 70 Type II buildings in Toronto and Kelowna, Canada. These buildings require biometric access for entry.
  • Data is stored on servers which are located behind firewalls that solely allow backup communication.
  • Data remains encrypted on our servers and would be unreadable if anyone managed to gain access to our servers.

8/BR: How does your proprietary technology compare to the proprietary technology of your main competitors?
Most backup software requires a small software application, or agent, to be installed on each server that needs to be backed up.  We use the Asigra software which is agentless and only needs to be installed on one server on the network.  The BUMI solution also utilizes automated self-healing backup technology to help ensure files are backed up properly.  In addition, our software has the distinction of being the only cloud based solution to earn the FIPS 140-2 certification.

9/BR: Does your solution take into consideration compatibility across the major platforms, mobility, flexibility and constant access to data?
BUMI has the capability and experience to provide clients with support and protection across a wide variety of platforms including all major Microsoft operating systems, Mac OS X, Major versions of Linux including Red Hat and SUSE, VMware, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Hyper-V, and others.  For a full list, you can visit: http://bumi.com/services/platforms.php. We also provide a mobile solution for laptop and hand held device protection.


10/BR: How has the online backup business evolved in the past few years, and how do you see it further evolving?
Great question!  Being in business for 10 years, I have seen some major changes in our space (including a lot of firms coming and going).  Within the past few years I have seen a massive explosion of data growth as well as a need for quicker recovery times. I have no doubt that the whole recovery side of the business will become a bigger focus than it was years ago when people just wanted to make sure they were backed up. We even changed our name to BUMI because we know its no longer just about backup but more about data continuity.  In 2011,  we launched BUMI Cloud Recovery (BCR) to provide our customers with a quick way to be up and running in case of a disaster in their office.  We provide them with a temporary virtual server environment in our Toronto data center into which we can recover their data. They can then work remotely for a month or however long they need until they get their new office up and running. Once they have their new infrastructure in place, we can help them restore to their new location.  No doubt, you will hear a lot more about virtual disaster recovery solutions in the upcoming months/years.

11/BR: Whom do you consider your main competitors? And Why?
I would say our biggest competitors are companies that are not interested in making any changes because they don’t think any type of disaster will happen to them.  I call this the “inertia” problem.  While tape solutions and other solutions are our competitors, unless they are not working or they haven’t checked a restore, it’s hard to get organizations to make changes once they have invested time and money into these solutions.

12/BR: There has been a great deal of M&A activity in the industry during the last few years [such as  Iron Mountain acquiring LiveVault, and Seagate acquiring eVault, EMC acquiring Mozy, and Symantec acquiring SwapDrive (Backup.com), VaultLogix acquiring US Data TrustBackup Technology acquiring Terian SolutionsDSCopr.net acquiring SafeData.net, and VaultLogix acquiring DataPresrve]. And Carbonite is now a NASDAQ listed company. What is your strategy? Do you think that major M&A will happen in the industry this year and beyond?
Yes, I’ve been watching all of these acquisitions from the sidelines. I still believe this market is very fragmented, so there will be a lot more M&A activity in order to shrink costs and increase profits.  We have been looking for companies to acquire. But to be honest, we haven’t been very impressed with what we have seen because most companies are unprofitable and have no real business plan for making money.  While I’m not against conversations about being acquired, I would only think about it if it made sense for our client base and team.

13/BR: In the next two years or so, what new developments do you expect to see in the online backup and data storage industry?
I think, we will continue to see the recovery points shrinking to the point where replication and our industry will overlap.  I also think we will see a bigger trend of backing up online applications like salesforce.com vs on premises applications.

14/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? 
Based on what I’m seeing out there in the industry, I don’t know how much lower some of these providers can go being that they are probably in the red with every deal they close.  I believe the costs will probably dip a bit, but more services will be added to provide more value.

15/BR: Many have exited the online backup and storage business, including, Xdrive, Yahoo! Briefcase, MediaMax (Streamload), OmniDrive, Zoogmo, and many others. Do you have any comment on that?
I think the biggest problem for them was not having a business model that could support the costs of doing business. Running an online data backup and recovery business is not cheap, so unless you charge a reasonable fee, you will be out of business.  I think people also forget that technology needs to get refreshed every few years, so if you don’t factor that in, you can get caught with a lot of costs that were not reflected in the pricing model (especially support costs as you grow).

16/BR: Any advice for IT companies planning to launch an online data backup and storage business?
For someone planning to launch an online backup business, I offer the following pieces of advice:

1. Figure Out Your Audience
Don’t try to be everything to everyone.  Focus on a few industries (and be GREAT at them).  We chose to focus on the professional services industry early on, and specifically, we created a great presence with the financial community, and it has helped us really understand their complex needs and become a market leader.

2. Understand Your Costs
Figuring out your up-front vs. on-going costs is not just about hardware and software.  You also need to think about scalable support costs (e.g. how much time will your technicians need to spend managing the solution and responding to client requests?).  If you run the numbers and you can’t turn a profit within a reasonable amount of time, redo your business plan!

3. Know When to Get Out of a Crowded Market
Pick an area of specialty and be the BEST at it.  At BUMI, we focus on our premium customer service angle.  Localize whenever it makes sense because it’s always better to be a big fish in a small pond.  When you do both of these things, you also have to know when to say “no” and be willing to walk away from business that is not the right fit and takes you away from your core focus.  Also, by focusing on a specific market, it makes it easier to spread your marketing dollars out for a better return.  And once you get a solid ground in your market, it makes it easier for your name to get around from a referral perspective.


17/BR: On a personal note, tell us about your life: married or single, children, your hobbies, where you were born and grew up, where you got your education, where you get your inspiration, and whether you will be around in this business, say 5 years from now?
I have the most amazing husband and son who just turned 2 years old.  My passions include running, dancing (favorite is hip hop), tennis, hanging out with my family and reading business books.  I grew up in Orlando, Florida and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from The University of Arizona (Go Wildcats!).  I think I get a lot of my business inspiration from my father who is also an entrepreneur (he develops accounting software), from business councils I am a part of (I am a member of Entrepreneurs Organization and Inc. Business Owners Council) as well as my team.  They make me want to be the best leader and role model I can be.  As to whether or not will be around in this business 5 years from now, my answer would be as long as I’m still jumping out of bed and feeling like I’m helping make a difference in our industry, I will absolutely be a part of it.

Ed: We sincerely thank Jennifer for this interview opportunity.

© October 2012 BackupReview.info

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