The man who would be (cloud backup) king

Everything cloud and as-a-service is cool as far as the analysts and investors are concerned, and storing your data and applications in the cloud is no different.

Disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) - the backup, recovery and replication of your data in the cloud is a pretty sexy area at the moment, as it saves organisations money by not having to own so much on-premise hardware and software, and instead puts out that responsibility to cloud service providers.

However, despite the promise of DRaaS the number of users of such services is still pretty small, but one company that plans to change this is Veeam Software.

Veeam's CEO is a man who has seen plenty of changes in his time, and the cloud-based backup of data is now a mission for him and his company, which has just held it's first ever user conference in Las Vegas, attended by around 1,000 delegates.

Ratmir Timashev is a Russian who lived through the turbulent times of the 1980s Perestroika period, where all things Soviet and Stalinist with a small "s" were effectively cast aside, as the USSR headed towards break up.

Timashev at the time was studying physics at the equivalent of MIT in Moscow. However, under Perestroika (the reformation of the Russian Communist Party) and Glasnost - or "openess" of the system - much of the central funding that was dedicated to the area of science disappeared almost overnight.

Whatever one thought of the Soviet Union at the time no one could dispute its contribution to science and technology - after all, it did put the first cosmonaut into space.

For Timashev it was a struggle. He says, "I had a young family and there was now no funding for the sciences in Russia, I had to find something else to do."

After being involved in a computer parts and IT business in Russia, Timashev won a university place at Ohio State University in the US. He says, "I had to learn the language and about capitalism, and then the internet came along. With my business partner Andrei Baronov I opened my first online store at the same time as Amazon in 1995 - but I never bought anything myself online until 1999!"

To cut a longer story short, Timashev was then attracted to the first appearance of virtualisation technologies, which led him to form Veeam and support backup, disaster recovery and security in virtual machines created from the likes of VMWare and Microsoft's Hyper-V software.

"We became known as 'the backup company' and we sought a minority stake [about 5 percent] in funding from a New York venture capitalist company to get some strategic advice, and they have been very helpful," says Timashev.

"But as a private company we don't face the type of pressure from the financial markets as other companies do. We are profitable with rising revenues after launching the right product at the right place at the right time." He says he has no intention of going public with Veeam or selling a majority stake to venture capitalists in the "near term", which he classes as a three year period. "Although, if a big number was offered who knows?" he adds.

For the 12 months of 2014, Timashev says Veeam will take software bookings of around $380 million, which would represent a 40 percent increase on 2013. In 2015, Timashev says he expects this to rise by 35 percent, or to around $500 million.

The majority of Veeam's revenue currently comes from the EMEA region, closely followed by North America. The company is headquartered in Switzerland, although Timashev himself recently relocated to the US.

So what holds for all things cloud? Version 8 of Veeam's backup, data availability and disaster recovery products will now include Cloud Connect, which allows service providers to sell such technologies as-a-service. Veeam only sells its products through the channel and says it will now charge such service providers£3.87 a month for each virtual machine they support, run by their customers on Veeam.

What they charge their customers is up to them, says Timashev, but he is adamant that this is the way forward. He says, "Analyst Gartner says that two thirds of resellers will soon disappear and that the other third will become service providers - this is the market that we are supporting with Cloud Connect as part of Version 8 of our products."

On the future of DRaaS, Timashev said, "Next year is when organisations will start adopting it more widely, and Cloud Connect will offer data backup and recovery from the beginning, with full data replication in 2015."

Cloud Connect will be available during the current fourth quarter after the company gives a full roll-out to its Version 8 products, and the Russian revealed that there would soon be an announcement about data replication - or full continuous mirrors of data sets - in "the next two weeks", when Veeam replication support for VMWare and Microsoft Azure in the cloud is expected to be announced.

While in some quarters the cloud is seen as a way of suppliers unintentionally commoditising their products and suffering lower margins as a result - the initial hype around the cloud promised lower costs for customers - Timashev is certain this won't happen to his company.

He says, "Cloud Connect offers close integration with server and storage hardware, offers tight security, and makes it easier for resellers to sell our products to customers. It makes our offering more affordable and easier to use, and more democratic in the marketplace - but we are not cutting our margins to do it, we are expanding the backup and recovery market."

Timashev said of the market generally, "It is now a software market, the brains are now in the software, not the hardware which is mainly made in China. Organisations don't always have to spend on expensive EMC and Cisco hardware, for instance.

"Having said that though, the HP software business doesn't really like us as they have their own backup system, but the HP hardware business does like us, as we can offer their customers a backup system closely integrated with their hardware - being Veeam-friendly helps HP hardware sales."

And despite the contradictions, the Veeam’s Version 8 products boast closer integration with hardware from the likes of NetApp and EMC, among others, in addition to better software support for the likes of Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL.

Veeam Version 8 will be available to cloud service providers at the end of this month, with general availability planned for November.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

8 highly useful Slack bots for teams