EMC Corp. is bringing together technology from three acquisitions for a foray into the consumer storage market with a bundle combining the Mozy online backup service with Retrospect Express backup software and external hard drives from Iomega.
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This type of backup bundle isn't new in the consumer market. For example, Western Digital's MyBook external hard drive is bundled with Memeo's Autobackup software, which also offers users the option of using Memeo's iDisk online backup. Symantec has also offered consumers SwapDrive online backup with some of its products, such as Norton 360, and already offers enterprise users SaaS options for Backup Exec.
However, Steve Fairbanks, director of product management for Mozy, said EMC plans to undercut its competitors on price. As it has been in the past, Retrospect software will be included free with Iomega's portable and desktop hard drives ranging in capacity from 80 GB to 1.5 TB and in price from $125 for 500 GB and $256 for 1 TB. Mozy is free up to 2 GB and costs $4.95 per month for unlimited storage. In comparison, iDisk costs $5.95 per month for 5 GB and SwapDrive runs around $40 per month for 2 GB.
The EMC bundle requires users to back up data twice, once through Retrospect to the local drive and then through Mozy to the cloud. EMC did add a startup wizard that walks users through configuring both backup products at the same time. It also did some development work to keep the different software agents from stepping on one another's toes.
According to Taneja Group analyst Eric Burgener, this is still a less than ideal arrangement. If the devices were configured so Retrospect staged backups to the hard drive, and Mozy drew its backups from that data, it could be a low-cost option for remote and branch offices at larger companies. "But to get the real benefit there, you really only want to backup once," Burgener said.
Another analyst questions whether the dual backup will fit the consumer market. "Generally, consumers pick either one or the other," said W. Curtis Preston, vice president of data protection services for GlassHouse Technologies. "And, they usually go with the online service because local backup doesn't help you in a fire."
Some users might also be uncomfortable sending personal data across the wire, Preston pointed out. "Some people have an aversion to having the only copy of their data at someone else's online data center," he said.
Still, the bundle offers more advanced features than consumers usually get. "Consumers generally don't have things like dual mirrors on local devices like this, whereas the cloud infrastructure will," Burgener said. For consumers, "This could answer the question of, 'what happens when the hard drive you've been backing up to fails?'"
Although Mozy and Retrospect support Mac systems separately, the integrated product doesn't. Mac users will have to wait for future versions.
The new backup bundles will be available at retail outlets and online stores, including Best Buy, Staples and Fry's, later this month. Downloads of Retrospect and Mozy for current Iomega users are available online. EMC will also offer the bundle to users under warranty with existing Iomega external hard drives.
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