Asigra looks to drop hardware costs for MSPs

Eran Farajun, executive vice president, Asigra

Eran Farajun, executive vice president, Asigra

Toronto-based backup and recovery software provider Asigra says it can cut MSPs’ hardware costs in half with a new open source-based software stack it says can replace higher-end storage with JBOD in a managed service provider’s data centre.

At its annual partner conference in its hometown, Asigra announced that it will make the software stack, based on the FreeBSD operating system, available for download or on a USB key within the next month. With the package, assembled by Asigra from primarily open source parts, solution providers using Asigra’s backup service will be able to replace dedicated storage arrays with low-cost hard drives, the software taking over management and monitoring of the storage the way a controller would in a traditional array.

Eran Farajun, executive vice president at Asigra, said that when the company looked into issues on its customers cost structure, storage hardware was one line item that stood out prominently, accounting for up to 30 per cent of an MSP’s costs.

“Effectively, we’ve disintermediated the hardware from the storage,” Farajun said. “If we can take half off of 30 per cent of their cost, we’re freeing up dollars that partners can invest in demand generation, marketing, and sales, so they can go out there and out-compete their competitors. The trail of crumbs then leads back to them buying more Asigra licenses.”

While Asigra’s approach takes care of the software, and support of functionality within the software stack, it does not have to support hardware in its model. It will, however, make “bills of material” or reference architectures available to partners for a variety of popular server/storage vendors, providing MSPs interested in the new “software-defined backup and recovery” approach with a shopping list for the servers, storage, and networking they’ll need to get up and running with the FreeBSD-based configuration.

Farajun said that the company’s talks with solution providers lead it to believe that many of them opt for brand-name storage arrays rather than building their own storage options, but that leads to paying a significant premium on hardware expenditure, which in turn keeps service costs higher than would otherwise be necessary.

The play is one to improve costs for the MSP, but Asigra believes that will lead to better margins for many of its partners. Farajun said the majority of the company’s partners see backup as a “trailing complementary” offering in their lineup of services – that much of their value and differentiation is in other services and offerings, and backup is just something they “tack on” to a sale. In those situations, he said, solution providers are generally less sensitive to being low-price because it’s a value pitch and positioned to the customer as a combination deal. By contrast, pure-play backup providers have to remain low-price to compete with consumer and other giants.

While the stack is available free of charge to any solution provider, licenses are still required for Asigra’s backup and recovery functionality.

The introduction of the software stack follows last year’s introduction of recovery-centric pricing for backup, which the company described as a way out of the race to the bottom found in the online backup services market, a race that has only accelerated as the public cloud giants duel for headlines and market shares through frequent and drastic price cuts.