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Staples Rolls Out Thrive Online Backup Service

Staples, the office supply giant, also wants to be known as a technology company. The company Wednesday introduced Staples Network Services by Thrive, the brand name for what eventually will be a suite of services aimed at small and mid-sized businesses, and introduced its first nationwide offering -- an online backup service.

"Focus groups told us that they didn't associate Staples with technology," Jim Lippie, president of the business unit, told Byte and Switch. "We figured we could use the Staples brand and the expertise of our technology organizations and pair the two together."

Thrive Online Backup automatically copies data from PCs and transmits it over an Internet connection using 128-bit encryption to a remote storage facility that uses EMC servers. It costs $10 per month per machine, Lippie said. The service offers automatic or scheduled backup and block-level incremental backups. The company plans to offer a version for Macs and servers in the coming months, including the ability to back SQL, Exchange, and file servers, networked or mapped drives, and Windows Vista and XP servers.

Staples is reselling the Mozy online backup service offered by EMC, which has been expanding its reach into the consumer market. EMC bought external hard drive maker Iomega for $213 million earlier this year, which has become the foundation for EMCs new Consumer/Small Business Products Division. This acquisition followed the acquisition of Dantz, maker of Retrospect backup software in late 2004, and the $76 million purchase of Berkeley Data Systems, the developers of the Mozy line of online backup services, last October.

Staples intends to build out its tech service offerings for companies with 20 to 250 employees. The goal is to offer a fully managed outsourcing platform for companies that includes managed antivirus, anti-spam, anti-spyware, and remote support and help desk services, patch management, and systems and network monitoring, plus on-site support and engineer services. "We think we will be able to resolve 95 percent of the tech problems that small businesses face remotely," Lippie said.

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