Breece Hill Avails Itself of Software

Disk-to-disk-to-tape vendor buys software company, hopes to be more enterprise-friendly

September 29, 2004

3 Min Read
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Breece Hill LLC bought its software partner Avail Solutions LLC today, with the intention of developing more enterprise-friendly features (see Breece Hill Acquires Avail).

Breece Hill has been shipping Avails Integrity data management software with its iStoRA 4000 disk-to-disk-to-tape device launched in May (see Breece Hill Unveils Disk Backup).

With 1.5 Tbytes of SATA drives, the iStoRA 4000 is aimed at SMBs, but Breece Hill’s director of business development Christopher Stone says they plan to target the enterprise next year in hopes that the disk-backup market will grow (see Byte and Switch Insider). Software is among the key differentiators in disk-backup products, and buying Avail gives Breece greater control of the "direction" its backup appliances can take [ed.note: not downwards, one assumes].

Stone says the decision to buy Avail was easy because most of the hard evaluation work was done before Breece Hill rolled out its appliance. Back then, it was only looking for software to run on its appliance, instead of a company to buy (see Avail Offers SMB Backup).

“We were looking at CommVault Systems, looking at BakBone Software... we did a lot of looking until we found what we wanted,” Stone says. “We’re the guy who liked the product so much he bought the company.”Stone won’t say how much Breece Hill paid for Avail. He does say it’s business as usual for the acquisition for now. Avail’s 10-person staff will be offered the chance to stay on at its Escondido, Calif.-headquarters, and will continue to sell Integrity backup software independent of Breece Hill hardware. Avail CEO Mark Armstrong’s title hasn’t yet been determined, but he will run the software business for a company that now has about 60 employees.

Breece also wants to keep Avail’s developers, but nudge them in a direction the appliance vendor wants to go. “Our product focus at the moment is SMBs, but we’ll build Integrity into an enterprise version,” Stone says.

That might be harder than it seems. Simplicity is important for an SMB product, while enterprise users want more complex features.

“They have nice software for the SMBs,” says Dianne McAdam, senior analyst at Data Mobility Group. “It’s easy to use and set up. But you have to support a whole different bunch of data and users in the enterprise. The software has to be a lot more policy-based.”

Avail claims some higher-end features, such as automated replication between backup servers, that Stone says they can add to. “We think the software scales well,” he says.Some of Breece Hill’s rivals are already scaling up. Data Domain Inc. today added remote-replication software to its backup appliance (see Data Domain Adds Replication). And next month Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL) will ship a disk-backup system that scales to 9.5TB and includes new software that automatically adjusts the amount of space allocated within the device needed for virtual tape versus standard disk (see Tape Guys Look for Answers).

Breece Hill's new developers will be busy keeping up.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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