Backup and storage vendor Asigra has been a player in the midmarket and
enterprise online backup market for more than 15 years, and it has some advice
for neophytes and startup vendors—be flexible, embrace vendor neutrality, avoid
proprietary solutions and, above all, don’t underestimate the power of the
channel.

“We’ve been doing this for quite awhile,” says Eran Farajun, executive vice
president of Asigra. “We know there are a lot of new startups coming to market,
and we know firsthand what challenges these new guys will face. It’s the same
challenge we had 15 years ago—we didn’t know what we didn’t know.”

One of the first challenges is to ensure your solution’s able to handle the
industry-standard software platforms and maintain the integrity of the data
generated from applications like Oracle databases, SQL and other popular
applications, he says.

This doesn’t mean you should get locked into offering solutions from only
one favorite vendor, he says, because that can cut off avenues for growth and
alienate customers using different solutions that don’t want to do forklift
upgrades.

“Channel partners are really protective of their customers’ needs,” Farajun
says. “The moment an inflexibility occurs, they get really defensive,” and that
can cause problems. He says vendors that can’t—or won’t—answer questions such
as how to split customer data between a few different vendor platforms or how
to migrate data to another vendor’s platform altogether may find solution
providers won’t turn to their solution in the future.

While it seems counterintuitive to actively help solution providers move
away from your solutions, it can be a win-win if solution providers see you as
a vendor that’s easy to work with and wants the same things you do—to deliver a
solution that best fits customers’ needs.

“Our answer to this challenge is to offer various solution delivery models,
from customer hosting on-site to partner-hosted services and everything in
between,” Farajun says. “We have increasingly offered flexible solutions that
fit the way customers want to be engaged, not how vendors want customers to be
engaged.”

Along the same lines, trying to lock customers into a solution based on a
proprietary appliance or software package can make solution providers and their
customers squeamish, he says.

“They get worried about hardware logistics issues—if something fails, how
quickly can they get replacements on something that’s not readily available?”
he says. “Another concern is, what happens to offsite data stored on
proprietary systems? How can solution providers and/or customers get it back?
Can they easily leave with their data?”

And for many customers, there’s the issue of whether or not they could migrate
their data in-house and run a backup/storage/disaster recovery solution
in-house, behind their own firewall, Farajun says.

“In some instances, it makes more sense for customers to manage these
solutions themselves after solution providers deploy it,” he says. “Then, the
question becomes whether or not vendors or even their resellers can give them
access to the back-end software needed to do so.”

EMC, for example, doesn’t allow access to
the back-end software that runs its storage vault solutions, and Farajun says
he’s also seen customers unhappy with solutions from Symantec for similar
reasons.

“Asigra’s solution has been to offer software rental licenses,” he says. “If
the customer wants to run everything on their site, they can still license the
software, pay monthly ‘rent’ and run it internally like a private cloud,” he
says.

Finally, Farajun welcomes the addition of new storage, backup and disaster
recovery vendors and solutions, but he cautions neophytes to not get
discouraged if their solutions don’t take off right away.

“There’s innate skepticism from solution providers and customers,” he says.
“Many of them don’t want to be one of the first to deploy a brand-new solution
on Version 1.0,” he says.