i365, the Seagate company offering data protection, backup and recovery services, has taken the next step in pursuing their vision for cloud computing by releasing EVault Cloud-Connected Services Platform. i365 is one of the largest cloud service provider in the mid market segment and it was formed by the acquisition of E-Vault and few other companies by Seagate. They have, approximately, 22000 customers and their focus is on cloud storage software, SaaS, managed services and appliances. I have been following them for the past few months and they seem to be executing a cloud strategy that could cement their position in the mid-market, SMBs to SMEs. i365, short for Information, 365 days a year, is clearly focused on the narrow mid market region with an aim to create cloud based storage solutions for their needs. They claim to be the god father of the cloud storage segment.
Selling both through the channels and directly, their vision of cloud storage is a hybrid one. They want to blur the lines between the on-premise and cloud based storage and they do this by adding value at the edge device. Their cloud backup process works as follows. The backup software backs up in a primary vault inside the corporate datacenter. Then, the data is reduced prior to replication. The primary vault then replicates the data to the passive vault present inside the i365 cloud. The same backup history is kept in both vaults. The users can either use the primary vault or the vault inside the i365 cloud for disaster recovery.
i365 is taking a smart route to the cloud game. Instead of insisting on the use of their own software, they have designed their cloud to be application agnostic, thereby, allowing the clients to use the software they are already comfortable with. In November of 2009, they partnered with Microsoft on development of a heterogeneous solution that will allow IT managers to extend Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2010 across non-Microsoft platforms and into the cloud, using i365’s EVault data protection software and cloud-connected storage solutions infrastructure. This is a smart move on the part of i365 to tap into the existing Microsoft Data Protection Manager clients.
As a part of their vision for cloud connected storage solutions vision, i365 announced about their Cloud Connected Services Platform on Monday. In short, it allows Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to SaaSify their existing enterprise applications by tapping into the i365 cloud. The EVault Cloud-Connected Services Platform extends the i365 Cloud beyond EVault Software and allows ISVs to use i365’s technology, Cloud storage, and SaaS infrastructure for their applications. It is the latest offering to support i365’s Cloud-Connected storage solutions vision, which is focused on helping midmarket organizations manage their storage solutions in an integrated on-premise, edge, and Cloud environment.
Essentially, this Cloud Connected Services Platform consists of
- a cloud interface to integrate the application with the i365 cloud so that business functions such as account provisioning, metering and billing are done using RESTful webservices.
- a service connector that resides on-premises, caching data and efficiently sending it outside the firewall via a secure network connection to the i365 Cloud
- i365 cloud storage with SAS 70 Type II or ISO 9001:2000 certification
- The platform includes SaaS business and support systems that can accommodate a variety of go-to-market strategies, including different pricing and billing models; account and contract management; and levels of customer service and support
Well, this doesn’t lead to enterprise SaaS applications per se but enables ISVs to store the data in the cloud and leverage enormous cost savings along with other benefits. When I spoke to Terry Cunningham, Senior Vice President in November, he was very enthusiastic about their cloud plans and told me to expect more announcements in this year.