Ransomware detection highlights enhancements to Unitrends flagship backup solutions

Unitrends sees both the new anti-ransomware capability, and two enhancements which make Unitrends more attractive to enterprises, as important differentiators for partners.

Paul Brady, Unitrends’ CEO

Cloud backup and data recovery vendor Unitrends has announced the enhancement of its Recovery Series physical appliances and Unitrends Backup virtual appliances. While several new capabilities have been added, the headturning one is likely to be a Ransomware Detection ability.

Paul Brady, Unitrends’ CEO, thinks the new enhancements only strengthen further what he believes to be a product that stands out in a cluttered backup marketplace.

“I joined the company last August and thought then that it was exceptionally well positioned, and now I think it’s an even greater opportunity than I originally thought,” Brady told ChannelBuzz. “It’s a highly differentiated product in an expanding market, with many vendors in it struggling with old products.”

Unitrends has been a historical SMB player, but they have been expanding beyond that into the midmarket, and at the departmental level at the enterprise.

“We are still really strong in the SMB, and have characterized our market as being from 20 employees to 2000,” Brady said. “We are now seeing tremendous growth in the enterprise – not large enterprise – but at the departmental level. Before I arrived, we competed mainly against Barracuda, which is also traditional SMB, and while we still see them, it’s less than before. We see on a consistent basis four or five companies – Commvault, Veeam, Veritas – which seems to be struggling – as well as Barracuda. Datto we see occasionally but they are really aimed at an MSP audience more so than hybrid cloud. We are also running into Rubrik, a newer company that is focused more on Commvault’s market, near the high end.”

Brady said that simplicity, leading to happy customers, has been Unitrends’ traditional advantage.

“Some of the other solutions have a lot of moving parts,” he said. “Ours is simple, one reason we have a 98 per cent customer satisfaction rating. Another reason is our support, as we have an extremely focused US-based customer service offering to respond to challenges when they do happen.”

Brady sees Ransomware Detection, one of the new features, as adding materially to Unitrends’ differentiation.

“Customer concern over ransomware is growing at an increasing rate,” he said. “Extortionists have found a good business model. The number of people involved in it is growing, and they are now coming from different parts of the world.”

Unitrends anti-ransomware capability uses predictive analytics to determine the probability that ransomware is operating on a server, workstation, or desktop computer. If any is detected, the capability alerts administrators. At that point, the user is able to immediately restore back to the last legitimate recovery point.

Sameer Kamat, Unitrends’ VP of Product Management

“We use analytics in our product heavily for various functions, drawing data from all our appliances out there,” said Sameer Kamat, Unitrends’ VP of Product Management. “For ransomware detection, we purpose built a model based on predictive analytics, telling us what data patterns we should be looking for, to tell us with a high probability that a server or VM has been hit by ransomware. If you are hit, within minutes you will know, and can restore to before the ransomware attack took place.”

Kamat also stressed that as a lot of backup products are Windows-based, they can be held hostage themselves.

“We created a purpose-built product on hardened Linux, so we aren’t vulnerable to this,” he said.

Another enhancement is improved self-service capability for owners of applications with system-specific admins, like SQL Server, Oracle database, Exchange, and SharePoint. It now allows them to initiate their own recoveries and manage their own backups, without having to engage the entire backup and recovery system.

“We had some capability for this before, but now we have taken it to a whole new level,” Kamat said. “Advanced role-based access control now provides great granularity of access, including specifying if someone can do just backup, or just do recovery.”

“This has been extremely well received, “Brady said. “We are always hearing from IT admins that they want more do-it-yourself capabilities. They want to be able to control and restore backups themselves.”

The other major enhancement is Distributed Enterprise Manager, which lets large enterprises with multiple branch offices centrally manage and monitor thousands of distributed backup appliances.

“Larger customers want to manage things, not just look and see what’s going on,” Brady said. “This makes the promise of all-in-one and easy-to-use more deliberate. With this we have drastically improved the scale of monitoring, and now can manage up to 10,000 locations. Our largest customer now has close to 5000, all over the world.”

“We had management capabilities before, but to address this problem large enterprises have, we needed to expand our capabilities,” Kamat said. “We did a great job to present a single pane of glass for up to 10,000 locations. I personally think it could scale to far more than that.”

Dante Gordon, Senior Director, Channel Marketing at Unitrends

“For our partners, these new enterprise features open up a broader set of opportunities,” said Dante Gordon, Senior Director, Channel Marketing at Unitrends. “We have a lot of partners who have been carrying multiple backup vendors to address different requirements. With these enhancements, we now address a broader requirement of protection that covers the enterprise. So it can provide a ‘go to’ vendor in the space that can do it all instead of having to carry one for enterprise one for SMB, one for virtual, and one for cloud.”

The addition of the anti-ransomware capability will provide partners with a major new differentiating factor.

“Partners want stuff that’s easier to sell, and where they can easily explain the differentiators to their customers.” Brady said. “We are completely unique in ransomware detection. This gives them a unique point to sell, especially around the machine learning capability.”