Intronis

Startup plans upgrade for its SMB-focused online backup service

September 18, 2007

3 Min Read
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Startup Intronis has been quietly adding flesh to the bones of its online backup story, joining a growing list of vendors touting an Internet-based alternative to tape. (See The State of Data Backup Protection.)

Tapes, or more precisely lost tapes, are a major source of anxiety for IT managers, particularly after a string of high-profile snafus involving the technology. (See Users Confess Security Fears , Users Go for Data Lockdown, Data Destruction, at Your Disposal, Washington University Medical School, and Managing Tape in the Age of Disk.) Many users are looking for alternatives that will prevent an embarrassing data breach.

Intronis, which was founded four years ago by Sam Gutmann, Neal Bradbury, and Steve Frank shortly after their graduation from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, is dedicated to an online alternative. "We can do the same thing with online backup that you can with tape," says Intronis CEO Gutmann, explaining that the vendor uses the Internet to offer a managed backup service.

The CEO, who did some consulting work during his time as a student, realized there was an opportunity in the backup market, particularly where small firms were concerned. "There was a huge hole in backup," he says. "Maybe the [SMB's] office manager would take tapes home -- nobody ever reliably moved [tapes] offsite."

In an attempt to tap unmet demand, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Intronis launched an online backup service called eSureIT in 2003. In a nutshell, users download the backup software from Intronis' Website. They can then install it as an agent on their servers and PCs, which interact with servers at Intronis headquarters."They select a time of the day when they want the backup to occur," says Gutmann, adding that users are provided with a 256-bit encryption key to secure their data as it travels over the Internet to Intronis' data center in Parsippany, N.J. This data is then mirrored to a secondary data center in Toronto.

At least one analyst feels the prospects for online backup services, such as eSureIT, are strong. "There's a lot more interest in online backup," says Lauren Whitehouse of the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). "A tape-based process is very time-consuming, and bandwidth is now cheaper than it was."

Certainly, Intronis's message seems to be getting through: The firm now stores 140 Tbytes of backed up data. The startup told Byte and Switch that it's racked up about 5,000 customers in the last four years, although only a couple of these, New York City-based construction consultancy Structure Tone and Bensalem, Pa.-based Rita's Water Ice, have been made public.

Despite this apparent uptake, Intronis is not the only vendor playing in this space and finds itself jostling for position with Seagate's EVault and Iron Mountain's LiveVault offering, to name just two. (See Evault Protects VMware, EVault Gets SAS 70 Type II Cert, Seagate Reports Q2 Results, Iron Mountain Lands LiveVault, and Iron Mountain to Buy LiveVault.)

Though Gutmann says that Intronis is focused on smaller firms than those typically targeted by LiveVault and EVault, the startup nonetheless faces stiff competition. "Intronis is definitely a lot further downstream -- LiveVault has been out there a lot longer and they have got Iron Mountain behind them," says ESG's Whitehouse, adding that EVault has got over 10,000 customers.As a result, Intronis is attempting to fine-tune its online backup offering and is preparing to launch Version 3 of eSureIT next month. This will contain a feature called Intellibox, which aims to reduce the amount of information backed up by only uploading data blocks from changed files. "This could probably save at least 80 percent of storage and bandwidth [needed]," says Gutmann. adding that this could save users' money.

ESG's Whitehouse told Byte and Switch that LiveVault and EVault have already developed similar technologies, underlining the need for Intronis to cultivate a strong channel presence.

Pricing for Version 3 of eSureIT, which is available in September, starts at $25 a month for 5 Gbytes.

  • Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)

  • EVault Inc.

  • Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM)

  • LiveVault Corp.

  • Seagate Technology Inc.

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