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Virtual server backup vendor Quest buys BakBone, looks to combine features

The combination of Quest's virtual server backup and BakBone's physical backup could solve the problem of having to use separate backup products; will others follow down this path?

After it closes its $55 million acquisition of BakBone Software Inc., Quest Software's goal will be to merge its virtual server backup capabilities with BakBone's traditional data backup in one product.

The Tuesday deal follows Quest's acquisition of Vizioncore in 2008, which gave it one of the leading virtual machine backup applications in vRanger. BakBone's products include NetVault Backup, NetVault FastRecover (CDP for Windows applications), NetVault SmartDisk with byte-level deduplication, NetVault Replicator, NetVault Bare Metal Recovery, and NetVault Report Manager.

Carl Eberling, VP of Quest's virtualization business unit, said it's too early to talk about a roadmap because the deal isn't expected to close until early 2011 but he strongly hinted at a unified backup application for physical and virtual servers.

"People use separate tools today, vRanger and a physical backup tool," he said. "They would ideally like to see both capabilities of those in one tool. Customers have been asking for physical and virtual recovery in a single product. They want things that are easier to use and they want granularized recovery working from the same catalog and the same UI as backups. Bouncing around with different products makes backup and recovery more difficult than it should be."

Virtual backup products such as vRanger, PHD Virtual esXpress, and Veeam Software's Backup and Replication emerged because of problems backing up virtual machines that traditional backup did not solve. But some of these vendors' customers have been frustrated by the need to use different backup tools for virtual and physical servers.

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said BakBone is a good fit for Quest. "Quest acquired the Vizioncore technology, so it has good virtual coverage," she said. "BakBone has a nice solution for physical machines. I can see where there might be some synergy. Quest has more resources than BakBone did to compete."

BakBone has a nice solution for physical machines. I can see where there might be some synergy. Quest has more resources than BakBone did to compete.


Lauren Whitehouse
senior analystEnterprise Strategy Group

Merging the products may not be so easy, but Eberling said Quest was interested in BakBone's development team as well as its products. He said he was especially impressed with BakBone's recovery, replication and continuous data protection (CDP) capabilities. Eberling said Quest considered developing some of these features on its own, but "we were just re-inventing the wheel. We looked at leaders around fast recovery capability and CDP, and that took us to the NetVault line."

BakBone also came relatively cheap at $55 million, following years of financial uncertainty stemming from accounting problems that forced the company to restate earnings for several years, and got it delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange. That likely scared off customers -- the vendor lost $15.3 million over its past two fiscal years -- and caused BakBone to slip behind its larger rivals such as CommVault Systems Inc., EMC Corp., IBM Corp. and Symantec in developing its technology. BakBone also had a costly failure to get into message management when it acquired Coldspark for $15.9 million in May of 2009, only to close down the messaging division a year later.

BakBone did make some moves to try to catch up in recent years, such as its acquisition of CDP specialist Asempra and its adding deduplication last year.

"BakBone had been quietly working in the background getting things up to speed," Server and Storage IO analyst Greg Schulz said. "It needed to be under a bigger umbrella, that being Quest. Like Vizioncore, BakBone needed to be partnered or acquired to move up. Quest wants to be a player and move into adjacent spaces, and picking up BakBone puts them in the game."

Besides vRanger, Quest's sells database data protection products such as LiteSpeed for Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle, Recovery Manager for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Active Directory, and SharePlex for Oracle.


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