Hyper-V specialist backup vendor Altaro officially launches in North America

Malta-based Altaro simultaneously announced the version 7 of their VM Backup, which was originally a Hyper-V backup solution, but has also supported VMware environments since Version 6.

David Vella, Altara’s CEO

Virtual machine data protection vendor Altaro is making a pair of announcements. While they have customers in 113 countries, they are only now formally launching in North America. They are also announcing the newest version of their flagship product, VM Backup 7.

Altaro is based in Malta, with some of their key staff having come from GFI, which was also based there. And while there is a natural tendency to see them as a Veeam competitor because of the virtualization angle and the European roots, it’s not really a great comparison.

“It’s a bit of a David and Goliath situation with Veeam, but truly, the only thing we have in common with them is that we both started in Europe, in our case in 2009,” said David Vella, Altara’s CEO. There are a couple key differences. First, Veeam started in the SMB and midmarket, but as they grew, they increasingly looked upmarket, and in the last few years have made expansion into the enterprise a top priority, as well as expansion into the cloud.

“Our focus is on SMB, to give that market a solution that’s affordable, and just works,” Vella said. “We don’t do enterprise, and we don’t want to do enterprise. We are priced accordingly, and are less expensive than Veeam.”

The other major distinction is that while Veeam naturally aligned itself with VMware because of VMware’s dominance in the space, Altaro began as an alternative for that part of the market that used Microsoft’s Hyper-V hypervisor.

“We had that ‘aha’ moment, when we realized that there was nothing that focused specifically on Hyper-V,” Vella said. “That was received very well by the market. With our last version, VM Backup 6, we expanded support to cover VMware environments, but today 75 per cent of our new business still comes from Hyper-V environments.”

Vella also said that they consider their support another differentiator for them.

“We were really inspired by Rackspace and their ‘Fanatical Support’ concept,” he said. “We have one level of support only, where everyone is super-trained.”

Altaro has had resellers, and thus customers, in North America for years, but only planned out a formal expansion here last year.

“We recognized then that the U.S. market was growing very rapidly for us,” said Stephen Chetcuti Bonavita, Altaro’s VP of Sales and Marketing. “We hired a new VP of US sales last June and slowly began building up the team. The channel is the key focus. In Europe, 99 per cent of our business is channel and we want to do same thing in the U.S. and Canada.”

Today they have between 30 and 40 partners in the U.S., and about 10 in Canada. Their distributors are SYNNEX and Seattle-based Rain Networks.

“We haven’t really done much marketing yet,” Chetcuti Bonaviti said. “We did launch an MSP program late last year, and are signing up about 40 MSPs a month. We have a 30-50 per cent conversion rate on MSP trials.”

The new features in version 7 include augmented inline deduplication, which delivers faster backup and data recovery for local and remote locations by transferring new data exclusively to the backup storage vault, so that the data is only transferred once.

“This is a really cool feature, which allows us to achieve the best dedupe ratio in the industry,” Vella stated.

Version 7 now also enables Boot from Backup, which lets users instantly boot any VM version directly from the backup location.

“This enables a Recovery Time Objective of two to three minutes regardless of size,” Vella said. “I didn’t think this would be so important, but the feedback has been super.”

This version also – somewhat belatedly – extends support for Windows Server 2016.

“This one is a bit of a sore point,” Vella said. “Microsoft released this late last year, but I decided to hold off on the support until version 7, which was a mistake at my end.”

VM Backup 7 is available now.