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Looking to gain more traction in an increasingly competitive managed services and software-as-a-service market, CDW is poised to launch a new online backup offering, dubbed the CDW Remote Backup Service, as part of its hosting and managed services offerings.

The company is betting that the move will allow it to compete successfully in a competitive space that includes both large vendors with service offerings (such as Symantec, IBM, EMC and others) and traditional service providers. Maintaining its own service infrastructure is a key part of the strategy. 

“CDW is an instance of one of the bigger dogs demonstrating that they clearly understand that they want to control their own destiny and not necessarily resell someone else’s service, but instead host, deliver and manage their own service and maintain a relationship with their own customers,” said Eran Farajun, executive vice president at Asigra Inc., based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

CDW said that customers are looking to them to offer these kinds of services.

“We see that more and more customers are continuing to look at ways that they can turn their capital costs into operating costs, and this remote backup service offering provides customers backup solution without huge upfront costs,” said Clint Harder, sales and product development manager of Hosting and Managed Services for CDW, headquartered in Vernon Hills, Ill.

“By adding backup and recovery into our solution, we can now provide a full end-to-end solution for our customers.”

CDW is hoping to woo companies that need to back up data from remote offices, as well as organizations that want to leverage a service-based offering to avoid making a large capital investment in order to achieve their disaster recovery objectives. 

The company has selected the Asigra Televaulting platform as the backbone of the new offering, citing low TCO (total cost of ownership) as a primary benefit. The platform features global data de-duplication and intelligent retention (which balances recovery time objectives and data value) to reduce storage hardware requirements and cost. Other features include automated SLA (service level agreement) monitoring and grid-based scalability.

“Televaulting was designed for service provisioning and is an agentless solution,” said Farajun. “The theory here is that the less touching that CDW needs to do at the customer site, the more profitable the service will be. Since it is agentless, Televaulting is very low in terms of people print or foot print from a software point of view.” 

Today, hosting and managed services is a small but growing part of CDW. CDW employs 6,300 workers worldwide. The hosting and managed services division was born two years ago in October when the company acquired Berbee, a private systems integrator specializing in Cisco, IBM and Microsoft products. Today, the group employs 150 people and includes data centers in Madison, Wis., and Minneapolis, Minn.

“We provide a set of technology infrastructure, labs, monitoring, reporting and expertise,” said Harder. “We offer co-locating, hosting and remote services.”

The market is ripe for this new service offering, as decreasing telecommunication costs put high-speed Internet access into the realm of affordability for many businesses, Harder said.

“In the past, there were concerns that there was too much data that had to be pushed across the pipe during the night to make such a service feasible,” he added. “Now, it is quick enough to be reasonable to do backup over the Internet.”

The CDW Remote Backup Service, which will be priced based on the amount of storage used, is currently being tested with existing customers and will be more broadly available late this year.