Cobalt Iron and the variety of cloud backup solutions available today

Forrester Research analyst Rachel Dines and Andrew Burton, editor of, discuss the various cloud backup solutions available today.

Earlier this month, a company called Cobalt Iron came out of stealth mode with backup software and appliances designed for on-premises and public or private cloud data protection, using IBM hardware and software.

The announcement got us thinking about the cloud backup market in general. It's getting pretty crowded out there, and there's a real variety of cloud backup solutions available, from Backup-as-a-Service offerings to cloud gateways to hybrid solutions with an on-premises appliance that can back-end data to the cloud. And of course, many of the major backup software vendors also allow users to simply choose the cloud as a backup target.

We spoke with Rachel Dines, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., to get her take on the variety of cloud backup solutions available today, Cobalt Iron's entry into this space, and trends she sees emerging, based on her research.

Cobalt Iron's product is similar to many of the options available today, but Dines says its approach differs because it offers a variety of cloud backup options rather than a single approach.

"There were a couple of interesting things about their announcement," Dines said. "One, they seem to be targeting a larger customer than a lot of the other vendors in the space. The other thing that stood out is just the way they are offering their deployment. They're offering direct to cloud, a disk to disk to cloud with an on-premises appliance, a private cloud option, and what they are calling a 'hosted private cloud' option in which they host the data in a dedicated infrastructure."

But how does a startup compete with the big software vendors, which increasingly are offering their own cloud backup options? According to Dines, her research shows that companies like Cobalt Iron are not selling their products to customers that want to "rip and replace" their entire backup infrastructure.

Instead, "they are targeting branch and remote offices where, if there are backups being performed there, they are inconsistent, there might not be IT staff on-site, and very often they are going to tape," Dines said. "[Companies like Cobalt Iron] come in with something that is fully automated, managed, and goes off to the cloud; and that is a much easier sell at those sites."

Listen to the full recording of our conversation to learn more about Cobalt Iron and the variety of cloud backup solutions available today.

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