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The impetus behind storage startup Axcient came from an unlikely source – while working for another startup, Axcient’s now-CEO Justin Moore’s laptop crashed. 

While technology failures usually are more cause for irritation than innovation, the experience of having to send his laptop—and all the business data it contained—to an offsite recovery specialist and wait weeks for the machine to be returned made a lasting impression on Moore.

“It took me a couple weeks to get my laptop back because while the firm I was working for had a backup and disaster recovery solution, it required I send the machine offsite to a recovery specialist,” Moore says. What Moore realized then was that while backup systems are fairly standardized, there was a crucial component missing from most disaster recovery strategies.

“What was missing was a very quick recovery capability,” Moore says. “I starting thinking it would be much faster to have that critical data backed up on-site while lower-priority data was also replicated and sent off-site,” he says.
Analysts say as many as 75 percent of SMBs who suffer a data loss or are victims of a disaster will go out of business within a year after the event. Moore says the ability to quickly restore and get back to business is key for smaller businesses. Axcient’s solution was developed to address the need for quick data restore in the event of a data loss or disaster, which is the most important tenet of data backup and recovery, says Moore.

“The most important thing to remember is that backup is about recovery. Online backup is definitely important component because it allows for both disaster recovery and compliant archiving, but customers –especially SMBs–can’t wait weeks for their data to be recovered,” he says.  “For fast recovery you must have the backup data stored locally,” he says.

To that end, Axcient offers a hybrid disaster recovery/business continuity (DR/BC) solution including both an onsite, appliance-based component and adds an online solution as a single integrated service, says Moore.

The Axcient solution is tailored to serve the business needs of SMB customers with anywhere from one to 500 workstations or servers and from 10 GBs to 10 TBs of data, he says.

When the solution is deployed, data is encrypted on the on-premise appliances, transferred offsite through an encrypted tunnel and encrypted when at rest in Axcient’s data centers, says Moore.

The solution is focused on solving the major DR/BC pain points that solution providers and their SMB customers face, says Moore, including the complexity of existing solutions and the scalability of those solutions.

Solution providers have been designing, developing and deploying DR/BC solutions from competitors like Symantec, Data Domain and Iron Mountain for quite some time, but Moore says the major flaw in these solutions is that they require working with multiple vendors to integrate software agents, tape hardware, secure networking and offsite information storage facilities.

“What ends up happening is solution providers are cobbling together a solution that is really complex and difficult to set up and manage. And there’s no ‘one throat to choke’ for support and services,” he says.

“From a customer perspective, we realized that most solutions of this type required software agents be installed on all PCs, laptops and mobile devices,” says Moore. “That process becomes just too complex and expensive for customers as they add new devices to their infrastructure, so they just weren’t doing it,” he says, especially in the SMB market.

Another issue with the traditional software agent approach is that many customers found they were a resource hog, draining crucial capacity and power from their data centers and devices.

“We heard many, many times that users get fed up and turn [the agents] off, they don’t use the backup and recovery capabilities because they slow down their computer,” he says.

With Axcient’s solution, all computing, encryption and security processes happen on the onsite appliance instead of the customers’ servers, Moore says. And since the solution is agentless, it won’t negatively impact users’ individual PCs and devices, either.

Victor Neely, Axcient’s vice president of sales, says by having a backup storage appliance onsite, customers also benefit from the ability to perform one-click rapid restores that allow them to be up and running within minutes of data loss.

The Axcient Web-based management platform also requires no installation of software, and is securely accessible by authorized administrators from any location. 

Axcient’s solutions have been getting a lot of attention since the product’s soft launch in late 2008, says Moore, and currently the company has more than 100 solution provider partners. Axcient’s goal is to continue recruiting partners and more than quadruple the numbers of solution providers by the end of the year.

“We’ve got 700 customers from those partners, and we hope that we’ll have 500 partners by the end of this year and are aiming for over 1000 customers,” he says, “And that’s a conservative estimate.”