Newcomer Nakivo takes on SMB virtual machine backups, cloud backups

Startup Nakivo builds an app for VM, cloud backups that lets customers replicate data to a secondary site or place backups into the Amazon EC2 cloud.

Startup Nakivo Inc. will jump into the virtual machine backup market later this month with an application initially designed for small and medium-sized businesses that promises easy installation, a low price and an option to back up to a secondary site or directly to Amazon.com's cloud. Nakivo Backup & Replication is in the final stages of its beta program, with general release due Oct. 30.

With this virtual machine (VM)-only backup product, Nakivo is looking to make a space in a market where such competitors as Veeam Software Corp. and Dell Inc.'s vRanger have already gained footholds, and on which the larger backup vendors have recently focused.

Nakivo protects VMs managed by VMware vCenter or standalone ESX or ESXi hypervisors.

Nakivo customers can set up a micro instance in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, then Backup & Replication will automatically back up data to the cloud for 10 cents per gigabyte per month, according to Sergei Serdyuk, Nakivo's director of product management.

Nakivo Backup & Replication is managed through a Web-based interface that administrators can access from any PC. Using the dashboard, they can give VMs priority, group and cluster VMs, and run near-continuous data protection, with protection available at five-minute increments. Backup & Replication automatically detects new VMs when they're added to resource pools, clusters or folders, Serdyuk said.

Serdyuk claims Backup & Replication can be installed and running backup jobs in 10 minutes, and requires no manual to set up and manage. "We stress simplicity," he said. "We're after SMBs, although we can scale to the enterprise."

Backup & Replication also deduplicates data and encrypts data in flight from the source to the target. Nakivo does not encrypt backed-up data, but supports third-party encryption software.

Nakivo customers can stage, or "seed," initial replication and backup jobs by placing the backup data on a hard drive and mounting it at a remote site. That alleviates the need to back up or replicate the full data set across a WAN. The vendor uses VMware's Changed Block Tracking, or CBT, to send only changed blocks in the Virtual Machine Disk files to the replication site.

Nakivo prices its software on a per-socket basis, with no extra licenses per database. The company's Essentials version, which works with VMware Essentials, costs $199 per socket, and the Pro version costs $399 per socket. VMware Essentials is limited to six sockets.

George Crump, president of analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said Nakivo "checks off the right boxes" with its features, but the biggest selling point could be price. "It's pricing is the real headline," Crump said. "Nakivo gets attention for 'Wow, this is affordable stuff.'"

Nakivo's ability to allow for cloud backups can also make it stand out, Crump said. "That's intriguing for a small, virtualized shop," he said. "I talk to a lot of guys who have virtualized but don't have a secondary site they can pump data to."

Crump said Nakivo will likely have to add support for physical servers to move above the SMB market. For now, the vendor could create competition for Veeam, which it seems to resemble most closely among VM-backup competitors. Nakivo even uses the same Backup & Replication name for its software that Veeam does. "Veeam is the go-to guy in the SMB market now," he said. "Nakivo has a lot of the same capabilities, but they do it for far less money."

Nakivo is a 20-employee, self-funded startup, with headquarters in Campbell, Calif., and engineering in Kiev, Ukraine. Founder and CEO Bruce Talley held management positions at Quest Software, BMC Software, Hewlett-Packard and Exodus Communications before starting Nakivo.

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