Article | December 11, 2012

The Backup 2.0 Era: Seizing The Opportunity

Bob Gagnon Unitrends

A Look at Important Changes in the Backup and Recovery Space – and How Channel Partners Can Help Their Customers Navigate This Landscape

By Bob Gagnon, VP of Channel Sales, Unitrends

Virtualization continues to transform IT environments – helping organizations reduce their data center footprint, experience cost savings and extend the life of legacy equipment, among other benefits. However, as an unintended consequence, it can also introduce additional complexity into IT infrastructures.

Adopting virtualization doesn’t necessitate jettisoning previous technologies and processes. As a result, we’re increasingly seeing “hybrid” data center environments, where virtualized servers exist alongside the more predominant physical ones. Accordingly, organizations’ strategies for data backup and protection can – and should – change. Many companies do not have the resources in-house to manage complex infrastructure and are seeking additional expertise to fully leverage virtualization and protect data across hybrid environments – opening up a huge opportunity for the channel.

Then: Traditional Backup and Recovery Model

The traditional backup and recovery model focuses on protecting large data sets – or millions of small files – located across distributed physical assets. As many companies still have data centers comprised of physical appliances, this approach to data protection continues to be a dominant one – but it isn’t the only one.

Now: The Backup 2.0 Era

Today, the end-goal is the same as it’s always been: secure mission-critical environments and the data housed within them – and keep recovery top of mind.  However, with the emergence of virtualization and hybrid environments, the means to get there has dramatically changed. Organizations’ focus has shifted from protecting distributed data sets across multiple servers to, now, also securing tremendous amounts of data housed on a single physical asset.

This need to protect consolidated assets has rendered many traditional backup and recovery solutions ineffective in virtual environments. Additionally, this evolution in backup processes has spawned the emergence of new backup vendors focused solely on providing data protection solutions for virtual environments. The combination of these factors is forcing many companies to adopt a multi-vendor approach to data protection – i.e., deploying different backup and recovery solutions in their physical and virtual environments as discreet entities as opposed to implementing a holistic backup and recovery solution.

VARs and MSPs: Take Note

To recap, virtualization has introduced new complexities into IT environments. And if that wasn’t enough for resource-constrained IT departments to handle, many are now also trying to manage multiple point solutions to keep data protected across physical, virtual and cloud environments.

These data protection challenges have created myriad opportunities for VARs, MSPs and other channel partners to grow their business. Here are three tips to help the channel community thrive in the backup 2.0 era:

  • Evaluate your existing backup and recovery solutions portfolio. Are all of your backup and recovery solutions physical appliances? If so, consider expanding your product portfolio to include data protection for virtual and cloud environments. While the majority of companies today still have data centers comprised of physical appliances, hybrid environments incorporating cloud computing and virtualization will become the norm in 2013 – and you don’t want to be on the outside looking in. And while there may be latency associated with data recovery from the cloud, this too will become status quo over the coming years as organizations’ end-goal of 100% business continuity remains the same.
  • Offer data protection that adapts to agile IT environments. Dovetailing on the above, the channel partners that will be most successful in the backup 2.0 era, will be those that offer data protection solutions that adapt to agile IT environments. Offering customers backup and recovery solutions for only physical or virtual environments will force them to commit to one type of infrastructure. If customers then decide they want to create a hybrid infrastructure or incorporate cloud computing offerings they will have to either deploy multiple point solutions or switch to a more holistic vendor altogether.

Offering all-in-one backup and recovery solutions that span physical, virtual and cloud environments provide customers with the most flexibility to meet their current needs and enable them to evolve their data protection strategies as their IT requirements change. More and more companies are demanding data protection that adapts to dynamic IT infrastructures, and channel partners that offer solutions that manage heterogeneous environments easily and affordably will have the most success.

  • Serve as a trusted advisor. As discussed, virtualization has the unintended consequence of introducing additional complexity into IT environments – and data protection strategies. Many companies are seeking expertise on how to overcome these complexities, and channel partners are the ideal way for companies to get the expertise they are looking for without having to add personnel to their in-house IT staff. Help your clients manage the complexity of virtual environments, evolve their data center as requirements change, and, perhaps most importantly, realize that unified data protection across hybrid environments doesn’t have to be an impossible task.  It’s a win-win for both the channel and end users: Channel partners strengthen and expand their portfolio by offering solutions adaptable to heterogeneous environments and end-user customers gain cost-effective, ironclad data protection for their business.


As virtualization and cloud computing become even more mainstream, the traditional backup and recovery model will give way and unified data protection will be in high demand. Channel partners who stay ahead of this trend by offering trusted counsel and holistic solutions that make data protection across heterogeneous environments easy and affordable, will expand their customer base and grow their business in the backup 2.0 era.

Bob Gagnon serves as the VP of Channel Sales at Unitrends. He brings a 20-year history of industry knowledge and experience to the company. Prior to joining Unitrends, Bob served as VP of Channel Sales for AppAssure (acquired by Dell). Before that, he ran North American sales and operations for AVG (NYSE: AVG). He also worked at Acronis, where he managed the SMB, Online, and Retail businesses.