EMC connects with Lenovo to ship Mozy online data backup software

EMC looks to tap ThinkPad for new customers and attempts to pacify unhappy users by making changes to its online data restore process.

EMC Corp. today took two steps to expand the global reach of its Mozy online data backup service – it struck a deal to bundle the software client on Lenovo laptops for a free trial, and it opened a data center in Ireland to improve customer service outside the U.S.

The Mozy software will be installed on Lenovo ThinkPad SL series laptops and offer its customers a 90-day 5 GB trial. After the 90-day trial period, users can sign up for 50 GB of online storage for $49 per year or unlimited capacity for $69 per year. The Mozy backup client automatically updates the software to the most recent version when the ThinkPad first connects to the Internet.

Vance Checketts, Mozy's chief operating officer, said there is no guarantee that pricing will remain intact long term. "Lenovo reserves the right to adjust that pricing – it might not be the same two years from now," Checketts said.

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The data center in Ireland is aimed at improving service to customers outside the U.S., as the Lenovo deal means Mozy will be offered worldwide. EMC currently offers Mozy backup services in Ireland, as well as the U.K., South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Canada.

Global exposure brings growing pains

The concept of bundling an online service with consumer products to try to lure customers isn't new. Memeo's products are packaged with Toshiba laptops and Western Digital hard drives. Dell offers 10 GB of online backup with its laptops. Symantec recently acquired the online backup partner, SwapDrive, which it had bundled with its Norton 360 software.

But Lenovo's global reach has the potential to substantially broaden Mozy's customer base with consumers and businesses.

"Winning a big vendor like this is big for giving Mozy exposure and expanding its business," said analyst Lauren Whitehouse, Enterprise Strategy Group. "But Mozy is still probably going to experience growing pains as it moves up the chain."

Those growing pains include additional capacity and performance demanded by potentially millions of new customers, but don't stop there. Whitehouse said Mozy's management features will also be tested. "Laptops are usually a consumer product, but what if Lenovo wins a big contract for a corporation's laptops, and that corporation wants centralized management and centrally managed public encryption keys? That's the kind of thing Mozy is going to start dealing with as it starts branching out," she said.

Steps taken to fix restore problems

As it tries to move onward and upward, EMC must also overcome concerns raised about Mozy's restore performance earlier this month. According to Checketts, one user interviewed by SearchStorage.com, Patrick Siefe, a computer consultant for Clean Data, encountered a bottleneck in Mozy's systems triggered by the size of his file manifest, or list of files needing to be restored.. "We removed that bottleneck and followed it up with a software fix," he said.

However, Checketts cautioned, "File manifests come in many different sizes and shapes, so fixing that once doesn't mean that a year from now there might not be another, even larger manifest." Mozy will also group files into multiple sets of small restores for better performance from now on, and it will show users the percentage of the completed restore and which files have been successfully restored.

Customers will also be able to specify their most critical files for restore by Mozy service personnel within minutes, while the rest of the restore will take around 24 hours, Checketts said. This might have been possible in Siefe's case, but the support team "could've guided him better."

More frequently, users have not been properly informed by Mozy of constraints and best practices with their systems. "Users who need to restore everything to a crashed system are usually the most panicked users," Checketts said. "It's not the time to discover that your client software is only loaded on the crashed machine, and you're not sure what to do." Mozy has expanded its knowledgebase, added frequently encountered restore issues to its product literature and established a restore hotline for clients with urgent restore requests.

"I'm not surprised to see something like this happen with a company like Mozy," Whitehouse said. "They're coming from a very consumer-oriented background, which isn't so demanding in terms of classes of service and doing business with enterprise customers."

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