Industry Briefing: Altaro Targets SMB Backup Market

Note: This write up is the result of a short briefing with Altaro.  It is not intended to be a comprehensive review, but is intended to share with our audience an overview of what Altaro brings to the market.
As I talk to enterprise IT vendors across industries — storage, data protection, networking, security, etc. — one common theme often emerges: the “holy grail” to many of them is medium to large enterprise.  They’re after companies with 1,000 or more employees and multi-billion dollars in revenue.  But, there is a vast swath of the market out there that is made up of smaller companies and they’re looking for the same kinds of services as bigger players.  They’re willing to pay for solution in proportion to their size and they sometimes find it difficult to find solutions that can scale down in cost to meet their needs.
This month, I had the opportunity to chat with Andy Syrewicze, Technical Evangelist at Altaro.  Altaro believes the small and medium business (SMB) space is underserved when it comes to virtual machine (VM) backup for VMware and Hyper-V environments. It’s an oversight the company says it wants to correct.
Our briefing with Altaro revealed much about the company’s history, mission, and goals. Founded in 2009, Altaro has about 40,000 SMB customers. For any company, that’s a pretty impressive number!  One interesting nugget about the company: It’s headquartered in Malta, a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Italy. That’s not something you see every day in the world of enterprise IT vendors.
But, why did Altaro come into existence? The company believes that today’s VM backup solutions for the SMB world are mostly clunky, complicated, and costly, a combination that is unpalatable for many. With those challenges in mind, Altaro has four core goals for Altaro VM Backup:

  • Ease of use to reduce cost and complexity
  • Fast support to keep customers operational
  • Educating the public about backup through avenues like things like ebooks, tutorials and webinars
  • A strong channel program to ensure accessibility to the solution

In terms of ease of use, Altaro says its product can be set up and creating Hyper-V or VMware backups in 15 minutes or less. In addition, backup scheduling is a no-brainer; assigning VMs to schedules is as simple as clicking and dragging them onto the schedule.
That simplicity carries over to licensing, which is done per host rather than per socket. In recent years, as more and more companies make the shift to per-socket licensing, maintaining a per host licensing structure can save customers a significant amount of money.
A simple solution is one thing, but what happens when something goes wrong (as it almost surely will, eventually)? Altaro is especially proud of its support. The company says it has the best support in the IT industry, and points to things like support calls that are answered in an average of 22 seconds, and 16-second live chat response, as evidence to back up those claims.  Perhaps the primary downside is that support isn’t offered on a 24-hour basis quite yet.  At present, support is available from 3am to 8pm eastern, which may be problematic for some.  That said, it’s certainly not a deal-breaker given the overall value of the solution.
As for its sales channel, Altaro currently has more than 7,000 partners. Although Altaro does sell direct, the company has a goal to become 100% percent channel-focused in the near future. Its partner program also offers different levels of recognition, and offers discounts for the various tiers. This move to 100% channel is a smart one by Altaro.  Channel programs become force multipliers that can be powerful from a revenue perspective.
Altaro indicates that one of its strong differentiators in the market is its storage deduplication abilities. One chart the company discussed during the briefing indicates that the average space savings, per customer, is 63%. That means less data being backed up, which translates to lower costs. The company also showed a comparison of a backed-up VM with two competitors. The original VM was 830GB; the size of Altaro’s backup, after dedupe was applied, was 390GB. The other backups were 590GB and 620GB.
Altaro can also back up to Microsoft’s Azure cloud, possibly saving companies money over having a duplicate data center offsite.
In short, Altaro has a compelling offering in a well-defined space, one in which a significant need exists. It’s a company worth watching, and ActualTech Media will be doing just that.