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Unitrends buys PHD Virtual to move into virtual backup, cloud DR

Integrated backup appliance vendor Unitrends and virtual machine backup specialist PHD Virtual will combine forces to compete with Veeam Software.

Integrated backup appliance vendor Unitrends, which was acquired by private equity firm Insight Venture Partners in August, today bought virtual backup specialist PHD Virtual Technologies.

Unitrends CEO Mike Coney said the addition of PHD gives the vendor a better chance of competing with virtual backup pioneer Veeam Software and makes it stronger in cloud backup.

The companies did not disclose the purchase price. Insight Ventures has also invested in PHD and Veeam.

Unitrends sells backup appliances that bundle data protection software. It also sells stand-alone software that protects VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors.

PHD sells backup applications for VMware and Citrix XenServer, and plans to soon launch a Hyper-V backup application. PHD also moved into cloud disaster recovery in April when it acquired VirtualSharp.

Coney said the combination of integrated appliances for physical backup and PHD's virtual backup give the combined company a complete data protection package. He said the combined company will continue both of their current product lines.

"When we get into a competitive situation with Veeam -- especially if it's a 100 percent virtual account -- our win rates drop," Coney said. "The PHD team is successful against Veeam, but when they get into a situation where they need physical protection, their win rates drop. So there's a nice marriage of our go-to-market strategies."

PHD CEO James Legg said one complaint PHD hears is that it lacks a physical backup product. The acquisition fills that gap.

"Now we have a physical solution," he said. "We're a pure virtual play, and they're strong on the physical side. We felt it was a perfect marriage with nominal overlap."

Unitrends' current cloud play is to replicate data from a customer's on-premise appliance to a colocation site maintained by Unitrends. Coney said it is working on ways to move data to public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Windows Azure and Google Cloud. PHD has that capability with its CloudHook module, and it added ReliableDR for VMware from VirtualSharp. ReliableDR software automates DR testing, failover and failback.

"That gives us DR as a service, which our customers have been begging for," Coney said of ReliableDR.

Coney said while there is some overlap in products -- especially virtual backup -- Unitrends and PHD sell mostly to different customer bases and rarely compete head-to-head. He said the average selling price for Unitrends is around $23,000 while the average selling price for PHD is around $3,000.

Besides Veeam, he said the combined companies will also compete with Symantec, Acronis and Barracuda.

Coney said Unitrends will likely maintain the PHD brand for its products because it is better known in the virtual backup space.

"In the virtual space, I'd give our performance a solid C-plus while I give [PHD] an A," he said. "They've branded themselves well against Veeam. I don't want to lose that.

"It's a challenge to support two different types of backup products. Quite a few companies have been successful at it, and some haven't."

Coney said he expects Legg and the PHD management team to stay on, and Unitends will keep PHD's headquarters in Philadelphia and offices in Morris Plains, NJ, and Madrid. Unitrends' headquarters is in Columbia, SC.

Coney said Unitrends has about 240 employees and PHD has about 80, and he expects the combined company to grow to about 400 over the coming months.

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