It’s always interesting to learn about companies you’ve never spoken to before. Infrascale, a presenter at Storage Field Day 19 is one recent example. As a vendor with 60,000+ customers, this isn’t a small start-up, but an established business that’s almost 20 years’ old. With a heritage of endpoint and enterprise data protection, is it time for another pivot to public cloud backup?
Infrascale as a brand name has been around since 2011. Prior to that, the company was called SOS Online Backup and focused on endpoint protection. From what I can tell, Infrascale had more of a consumer focus at that time. The SOS brand still exists today, although the company renamed itself in 2011 to Infrascale and took $3 million in series A funding. A second funding round followed in 2014 for a further $16.3 million.
Infrascale has three product lines. Infrascale Cloud Backup provides the capability to protect data using the public cloud, with the ability to restore to the file level. Next, Infrascale Disaster Recovery provides capabilities to protect data to an on-premises appliance, with ongoing protection in the public cloud or Infrascale private cloud. The third product is the protection of data in SaaS applications such as Office 365 and Salesforce.com.
The Disaster Recovery product was demoed at Storage Field Day 19. From what we saw, the product looks mature and well-featured. One interesting aspect of the design is the implementation of the appliance model. On-premises appliances replicate to physical cloud-based appliances in the Infrascale Cloud or virtual appliances in the public cloud. More on this in a moment.
Chin-Fah Heoh (storagegaga on Twitter) pointed out some interesting information on the positioning of Infrascale on the Gartner Disaster Recovery as a Service magic quadrants from 2017 and 2018 in his recent post. This saw the company drop off the radar, presumably because of a change of admission criteria. The Gartner 2019 Data Centre Backup and Recovery MQ didn’t see Infrascale figure at all, which seems surprising, bearing in mind the depth of features available across the product range.
For a company that’s only received $20 million in funding (in the current incarnation), Infrascale seems to have achieved a lot. Compare the features and functionality to say, Rubrik, and I would venture to say that the Infrascale feature set is arguably more mature. The question is whether Infrascale has the same “market appeal” as Rubrik, which to date has received $553 million across five rounds (the last for £261 million).
- The $2 billion Gamble on Data Management
- Storage Field Day 19 – Vendor Previews
- Managing Legacy Backups
I put the term “market appeal” in quotes because Rubrik focused on different aspects to their platform, such as policy-based management, deep search capabilities, cloud-based management tools and scale-out architecture. The question is, though, are Infrascale and companies like Rubrik providing essentially the same set of basic data protection features?
Moving from small/medium businesses to enterprise is quite a challenge and one we will see play out again this year with other companies. So far, Infrascale has made the transition from consumer/SME to mid-range and needs to look at upscaling to enterprise customers with enterprise features.
Dealing with enterprise-class customers can be a challenge and needs a direct sales force rather than working with partners. As we move towards greater use of hybrid cloud, this will mean offering the ability to protect IaaS-based applications, which Infrascale doesn’t appear to offer today.
Then there’s the appliance model. At Storage Field Day, Chris Bayne (Chief Solutions Architect) indicated that the typical approach for scaling customers is to size for three years’ worth of backup data and replace an appliance with a larger model, if necessary. There’s no “scale-out” as such, although multiple appliances can be supported.
The in-cloud appliance model must also have scalability challenges. It wasn’t clear how dispersed organisations replicate to the cloud – whether this is one-to-one or whether it requires multiple target appliances. I would expect that a more efficient approach could be to replicate into a multi-tenant environment and only make a target appliance available when customers need to instantiate a recovery. This is perhaps one of the evolutions the Infrascale platform needs to make.
The Architect’s View
Building a successful data protection business doesn’t need hundreds of millions of dollars of investments unless of course, you like hosting parties. However, application deployment models are changing, with more of a focus on the data rather than the application. As a result, companies such as Infrascale will need to transform their offerings to more cloud-like solutions and build joined-up capabilities like unified search.
With new management in place, I’m interested to see where Infrascale will go. Hopefully, the company can transform with its customers as they adopt a greater hybrid and multi-cloud approach to their businesses.
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