BackupAssist takes a step back in time with a SME backup tool

BackupAssist's new version allows customers to use their preferred public cloud vendor to store their data. But is it really needed?

I live my life in two worlds. The most visible world, at least to this audience, involves spending lots of time in Silicon Valley and the U.S. generally and conversing with the technology illuminati—those who “get” technology, the cloud and what it can offer the world.

In my other life, I live in a small (like, tiny) rural village in deepest, darkest New Zealand. I’m surrounded by fine folk, the so-called “salt of the earth” who make a living from the land, sheep, grapes and the rural sector generally. To these folks, technology is simply another tool to add to the arsenal of tools they have at their disposal.

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For these people, cloud isn’t always an already-adopted opportunity. Rather they use a variety of technology products and services. I have a friend who runs an agricultural service business whose operational software is a DOS-based solution. While this may have friends in the technology world rolling their eyes and shaking their heads, it is the reality of the “real world.” As an aside, I’ve said for the longest time that technology companies should spend lots of time away from the usual early-adopter suspects to better understand the real user stories and needs of their customers.

So, when I first received a pitch from BackupAssist, telling me in glowing terms about their automated Windows server backup and recovery software that is aimed at small business customers, my eyes rolled a little. I mean, really? Isn’t every small business worth its salt already fully in the cloud, leveraging SaaS solutions and totally virtual? Sadly (or maybe not, if you’re BackupAssist, anyway) this is not the case. And hence BackupAssist, despite potential incredulity, does indeed have an opportunity. 

BackupAssist's latest version

To give the lowdown on what they’re doing, BackupAssist has just rolled out the latest version of its backup and disaster recovery software. Timed with the generally broadening adoption of Windows 10, the offering allows customers to use their preferred public cloud vendor to store their data. The value proposition here is that clients (not to mention partners) can leverage the economies of scale that the public cloud offers alongside more traditional backup and recovery options.

In terms of the company, BackupAssist was founded pre-cloud, way back in 2002. The company specializes in automated server backup and recovery software for small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs), providing protection for physical, virtual and cloud environments.

BackupAssist’s thinking is that small and medium enterprises want a choice on where their backup data is saved and replicated to. The company further goes out on a limb, suggesting that native backup solutions (i.e. ones delivered by the public clouds themselves) are fundamentally flawed due to the fact that the backup provider has a conflict of interest in providing both deduplication and the storage repository.

Continuing from this (arguably flawed) perspective, the company goes on to ensure that everyone is well aware that with BackupAssist 10, customers can choose their cloud vendor and are provided with the ability to determine the physical locations where their data will be stored.

Furthermore, in a thinly veiled suggestion of public cloud conflict (which I would class as bordering on FUD), BackupAssist says that with cloud independence, customers can be assured of receiving the maximum data deduplication/compression efficiency because the customer selects the final backup storage location, eliminating backup and storage provider conflicts of interest.


There are some fundamental issues here. First, it is somewhat weird to think that a SME customer who isn’t yet aware of the value that cloud-based products and services can offer to her would nonetheless be totally on board in terms of cloud backup. It strikes me that customers that are wedded to a desktop solution are also those customers that are wedded to on-premises physical storage devices.

Second, I disagree with the company’s perspective that cloud vendors have an inherent conflict between deduplication and storage costs. Every cloud vendor I talk with (and I spend lots of time with most of them) says this is a market that is growing hugely and that they have no interest or motivation in simply selling more storage to customers at the expense of those customers’ best interests. It’s simply not the way the cloud vendors that I know operate.

Clearly, BackupAssist has an opportunity with the service provider market. But given my perspective that most service providers, or at least a good chunk of them, have a minimally defensible business, this is little consolation. I’m sorry, but I really don’t see huge value in this product, and all it does (in my view) is avoid an inevitable and inexorable move towards cloud adoption.

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