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BakBone acquires continuous data protection partner Asempra

The Windows backup and recovery startup had received $36 million in funding, but has been acquired by its OEM partner BakBone for just under $2 million today.

BakBone Software Inc. has acquired its Windows data backup and continuous data protection (CDP) partner Asempra Technologies Inc. in a mixed cash and stock transaction valued at just under $2 million.

BakBone said Monday it will issue 3.8 million shares of its common stock to Asempra's stakeholders, including investors who pumped more than $36 million into the company before it ran out of capital and failed to raise more funding. Asempra had fewer than 100 customers, who will now be offered support through BakBone.

BakBone already sells Asempra's Business Continuity Server (BCS) branded as BakBone NetVault: Real-Time Data Protector through an OEM and joint development deal the companies entered into a year ago. NetVault: Real-Time Data Protector restores data on Exchange, SQL Server or Windows file systems after a server problem.

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"We're getting a really mature technology set for the consideration we're giving," BakBone senior VP of Corporate Development Ken Horner said.

Asempra customers say they're glad the product will still be supported and developed, but are apprehensive about how the roadmap will turn out. Derek Kruger, IT and communications supervisor for the City of Safford, Ariz., said, "I was very concerned" as Asempra struggled in recent months. "They seemed to have difficulty getting a lot of traction for the product."

BakBone said in a press release that it's going to use the IP and 24 sales and development personnel it's acquiring from Asempra to broaden its presence in the Windows market and further integrate its NetVault backup with BCS. Kruger said he doesn't want to see the Business Continuity Server product change too much.

"Asempra is still a fairly young product, but what it does, it does well," he said. "I'd hate to see 'feature creep' that makes it a more bloated, complex tool."

Another Asempra customer, Vivek Vasudeva, vice president of product development and operations for Quality Planning Corp., said he is hoping to see support for Microsoft's SQL Server 2008 added soon. "BakBone seems to be more focused on non-Windows applications," he said. "Right now we're better off than we were yesterday, but if they're not going to make it a part of their core business and continue timely updates, we'd almost rather they just died and let us pick something new. We don't want a slow death."

BakBone's Horner said the company plans to continue the Asempra product roadmap as is, including a refresh over the summer that will add SQL 2008 and Microsoft SharePoint support. "We just have some minor coding to do," he said.

Horner said the biggest change for Asempra will be its approach to the market and the channel. "They wanted to compete at the high end with EMC and Hitachi," Horner said. "We want to exploit the midmarket. Now that we own the IP and licensing, we can align it with our channels."

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said that so far, the integration between Asempra and BakBone has been mostly at the interface level, and suggests that BakBone work on deeper integration to add policy-based controls to the continuous data protection process. "Data protection is becoming less and less about applying technologies to different workloads and more about setting recovery objectives according to policy," she said.

Whitehouse pointed out that the more successful continuous data protection products are integrated into larger data protection packages. EMC Corp.'s RecoverPoint integrates the CDP it acquired with Kashya, Inc. in 2006, Symantec Corp. is integrating CDP IP acquired from Revivio Inc. in 2006 into NetBackup, and CA Inc. has CDP from XOsoft Inc. in its Recovery Management suite.

"This is just another indicator of continuous data protection as a feature or option of a broader data protection and recovery platform rather than a standalone product," IDC analyst Laura DuBois wrote in an email to "Increasingly, replication…is [also] at the core of this platform."

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