Office 365 protection enhancements, new blockchain-based service highlight Acronis Data Cloud 7.8 update

Acronis has also added improved their ransomware protection and added runbooks to their disaster recovery orchestration, democratizing the process so it can be done without professional services. Previously announced Azure and Google Cloud integrations are also part of this release.

John Zanni, Acronis’ Presiden

Data protection vendor Acronis has announced their Acronis Data Cloud 7.8 update to their platform for MSPs. The Acronis Data Cloud 7.8 update expands protection for Microsoft Office 365, adds runbooks to disaster recovery orchestration to democratize that process, improves ransomware protection, and adds a blockchain-powered data notarization and e-signature solution for service providers.

“This version brings some significant improvements to the product itself based on requests from both partners and customers,” said John Zanni, Acronis’ President. “There are five main pieces to the announcement.” In addition, while not really a part of the announcement, since they were announced earlier, Acronis’ previously announced integrations with Google Cloud and with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services have been incorporated into this release.

“End customers have usually made a public cloud decision by the time they talk to us,” Zanni said. “If they want to use that investment in the public cloud, it’s now very easy for them to do that with us.”

The brand new announcements begin with the rounding out of Acronis’ protection for Office 365.

“We have added direct cloud-to-cloud backup for Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, and for SharePoint Online,” Zanni said “Before, you had to use an agent on your endpoint device to do this, and the backup went to that device. Now it does directly to wherever you want to back it up.”  Backups are performed directly between Microsoft and an Acronis cloud data centre.

Disaster Recovery plans are also automated with runbooks in this release, to simplify and speed up the failover of multiple machines to a cloud recovery site.

“Acronis Disaster Recovery Service has runbooks. but also requires professional services,” Zanni said. “This democratizes DR so you can do it yourself without professional services. A runbook also allows you to spin up more than one device at a time.”

Acronis Active Protection’s ability to detect ransomware has been enhanced. Acronis Active Protection monitors for malicious activity, stops questionable behaviour, and automatically recovers damaged files.

“Ransomware protection has been improved to reflect the fact that ransomware is getting more complex and more sophisticated, and is now more likely to slightly modify files rather than encrypt the whole machine,” Zanni said. “We have improved the machine learning methodology to reduce false positives. Before, we looked only at the data on the physical machine, and now includes removable hard drives and network shares, so it will check if you have a problem in your Dropbox.”

Acronis Data Cloud 7.8 also contains a new service, a beta of Acronis Notary Cloud, a blockchain-based service for file notarization, e-signing and data verification that creates a unique digital fingerprint for files, and stores it in a public blockchain ledger.

“How do you make sure that the data you put on the Web is the same data you get back later,” Zanni asked. “We guarantee that by using a distributed ledger methodology, so if one bit gets changed, the code wont match. We have created a standalone service with this to notarize backup, which MSPs can offer to their customers if they want.”

Zanni says more blockchain services will be coming.

“We believe that blockchain will become a mainstream technology in our industry, with a multitude of services,” he indicated. “I’m speaking at an upcoming blockchain event in Phoenix around legal issues. There are some additional experiments around blockchain that we are doing, but we are not ready to announce them yet.”

Finally, Acronis is emphasizing how this release addresses what they term the five vectors of cyberprotection – — safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security [SAPAS] and how Acronis Data Cloud addresses them.

“More and more channel customers are going to be asking about cyberrisk, and the channel needs to have the right portfolio to protect them,” Zanni said. “Our five vectors of cyberprotection address the fact that there is a cyberwar happening in the world today, and takes a layered approach to protecting your data.”

The Acronis Data Cloud 7.8 update is also accompanied by new sales and marketing materials to help service providers sell more managed data protection services. These new datasheets, battlecards, and email templates are available through Acronis sales reps.