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Acronis CEO bullish as specialist goes beyond backup

Acronis is set to launch Cyber Protect as it rides a wave of confidence based on increasing revenues and investor funding. Will the backup-plus-cyber protection calculation pay off?

Traditional backup is dead – at least that’s the view from Acronis ahead of its launch of Cyber Protect, which will bundle backup, disaster recovery, artificial intelligence-based malware protection, remote assistance and security into a single software product to be launched in March.

The move represents a trend among backup providers to embrace security, the cloud, analytics and wider data management concerns.

For Acronis, the emphasis is towards protection from cyber threats and as a provider of products that cater to the edge rather than the core.

Co-founder and CEO Serguei Beloussov said: “About 40% of our revenues are from large enterprises. BMW, for example, has 100,000 computers. It’s a large customer where they use something else in the core datacentre, but Acronis for shop floor and remote office machines.”

Cyber Protect is currently in beta but will be generally available at the end of March. It wraps up Acronis’s backup functionality, known for its ability to work on almost any platform and for its ability to clone machine images between hardware, with a comprehensive protection from cyber threats.

Acronis sums up its watchwords in an acronym –  Sapas, which stands for safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, security – with functionality that aims to protect, detect, respond and recover from threats such as ransomware.

That’s a response, said Beloussov, to a world of pervasive data and pervasive threats.

“This is a time when the number of devices and the amount of data is growing massively, and so is the number of threats,” he added. “Once you could get by with losing some data, but today that’s not acceptable and we have to ensure that all data and devices are accessible at all times.”

Cyber Protect – and the wider product range – are built with on-premise or cloud deployment options, use blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) for distributed architecture and behavioural detection respectively.

Beloussov claims a certain uniqueness for the combination of backup and data protection – in the sense of protecting data from external threats – which the Acronis suite of product promises.

“All the things we do are very unusual and no-one else does,” he said. “You can build it from five or 10 vendors, but it’d be very cumbersome.”

He refers to Acronis’s Cyber Infrastructure product, which is a software-defined edge compute, storage and networking product.

“Cyber Infrastructure is software-defined infrastructure designed for protection. It’s like Cohesity or Rubrik to some extent, but not comparable to either. We are focused on the edge and endpoint workloads” said Beloussov. “No one else ships infrastructure integrated with cyber protections.”

The launch of Cyber Protect in March comes a few months after Acronis gained a cash injection of $147m from Goldman Sachs. What will Acronis use that money for?

“Three things,” said Beloussov. “We are very aggressively seeking new partners. We have 6,000 service providers now, and we plan to grow that by 10x in three to five years’ time.

“We are also looking at making five to 10 acquisitions per year. We have three companies in process right now.” Acronis acquired hybrid cloud data management company 5nine in December.

Finally, Beloussov said: “We are aggressively planning to hire lots more engineers to support the broad product line.”

Beloussov is bullish for the future, and points to a $250m annual run rate, with 20% revenue growth in 2018, up to 30% in 2019, with that expected to reach 50% in 2020.

Time will now tell whether Acronis’s approach to backup and data protection is a calculation that pays off.

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