Partners May Find Big Bucks in Disk-Based Backup
Microsoft to announce pricing, availability for Systems Center Data Protection Manager at Partner confab in early July.
At its Worldwide Partner Conference early this month, Microsoft will announce
pricing and availability for Systems Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), disk-based
backup software that the company expects will provide a lucrative new revenue
stream for partners.
Microsoft will charge $999 for DPM server software capable of backing up three
file servers. “High-end disk-based vendors sell that equivalent function for
about $25,000,” says Ben Matheson, Microsoft group product manager for DPM.
Matheson says the product, which has been in beta test since April, will release
to manufacturing this summer and be generally available in the fall.
DPM is Microsoft’s attempt to take advantage of a shift from tape- to disk-based
backups, a market that Matheson says amounts to $2.8 billion in software alone.
For Microsoft Partners, the revenue opportunities also include hardware sales
and services, including pre-deployment assessments of storage requirements,
deployment and monitoring.
The company will also announce it is integrating DPM with the Microsoft Competency
program, where it will fall under the Advanced Infrastructure umbrella. That
means there will be training available for partners, who can attain a sub-competency
in backup and recovery.
Many companies are shifting to disk-based backup because of numerous problems
with tape. For one, file recovery is difficult, if not impossible, should the
tape be damaged or lost. A March 2004 Yankee Group report said 41 percent of
companies during the previous year were unable to get a file back when they
Tape backups can also be painfully slow, which is often unacceptable given
the combination of data volumes increasing at 30 percent per year and shrinking
backup windows. One of Microsoft’s DPM beta customers, the New York City Department
of Sanitation, typically needed about 48 hours—or an entire weekend—to back
up its 23GB of data. With DPM, the job takes only 10 minutes, according to a
Microsoft case study, because DPM only backs up file changes, not the entire
Cost is another issue. This includes both the high price of tape-based systems
and the labor required to operate them, which Microsoft research shows accounts
for 70 percent of total tape backup costs. Alternatively, high-end disk-based
backup products go for around $50,000, Matheson says.
“We’re trying to drive disk-based backup into mainstream companies,” he says,
noting the target market is companies with fewer than 100 servers. “Less than
10 percent of all servers today use disk-based backup. Over the next five to
10 years, the majority will.”
Per Werngren, CEO of IDE, a systems integrator and managed services company
in Stockholm, Sweden, has already been talking up DPM with customers and expects
to begin some installations of the beta software this summer. He says a typical
customer has about 50 branch offices, representing about $50,000 in service
revenue for IDE.
“The opportunity is even better in terms of customer satisfaction, because
this is taking care of the pain that they have,” says Werngren, who is also
president of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners.
“They can reduce or eliminate the need for tape drives in those branch offices,
and the IT department can sleep better at night because they know their data
is being synchronized to another site.”
The Yankee Group study points out some potential downsides to DPM, including
its Microsoft focus—it works only with Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003
and Windows Storage Server 2003. It also backs up only files, although Matheson
says application support will be in a future version.
Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at email@example.com.