EMC integrates drives, backup service

San Diego, Calif.-based data protection vendor Iomega Corp.’s integration of its external hard drives with storage technology previously acquired by parent company EMC Corp. is likely a move to bring Iomega back to the forefront, said one analyst.

Iomega, acquired by EMC last June, is rolling out its external hard drives, targeted at consumers and small to medium-sized businesses, with a downloadable software bundle that integrates Retrospect Express local backup and recovery software, and Mozy online backup service.

EMC acquired Dantz Development Corp., developer of Retrospect software, in 2004; and Berkeley Data Systems, developer of Mozy software, in 2007.

“This sort of seems like EMC’s play to get Iomega back into the spotlight,” said Laura Hansen, research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group.

Besides, EMC doesn’t have a good history with integration, said Hansen, citing VMware as still its own entity, and the lack of indication on Mozy’s Web site that it’s owned by EMC. The company may be trying to ameliorate the fact that Iomega “fell to the wayside in the 90s” with this roll out, said Hansen.

Customers of Iomega external hard drives can choose a version of Retrospect Express software the works best for them, and either a free version of MozyHome 2GB or unlimited MozyHome for a fee.

While EMC’s primary focus has been enterprise storage, small to medium-sized businesses “have many of the same storage dilemmas as many of the major enterprises do,” said Jonathan Huberman, president of the consumer and small business products group at EMC, of the rationale behind the acquisition of Iomega by EMC.

The integration of Retrospect and Mozy storage technology is “the first step” in Iomega’s strategy to combine technologies acquired by EMC for consumers and small to medium-sized businesses, said Huberman.

Later this summer, Iomega will roll out a new Linux software stack for network products featuring local and remote backup, as well as additional features like security from RSA Security Inc. and de-duplication from Avamar Technologies Inc. RSA and Avamar were acquired by EMC in 2006.

Having both local and remote backup in one product means managing data protection with a single user interface, said Huberman, instead of two consoles running two different applications.

While local backup is necessary given that the majority of data loss occurs at the main hard drive level, said Huberman, the ability to remotely backup is also vital. “It’s rare to have a disaster where you have a fire or a situation where both primary and local backup go down,” he said, “however that does happen occasionally.”

Hansen said the only other comparable solution to Iomega’s integrated technology, albeit as a software and not hardware offering, is from Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec Corp. that integrates Symantec Backup Exec with online storage.

The dual functionality of local and remote backup is good for ensuring data redundancy and retrieving data online in the event of a disaster such as a fire, said Hansen, and having a “single pane of glass for management” simplifies data protection because “you don’t want a bunch of different interfaces and a bunch of different things to manage.”

Such technology is gaining traction among consumers and small to medium-sized businesses in light of this advantage, but also because interest by companies like EMC and Symantec, she said, “certainly gives the solution more leg for businesses.”

However, Hansen does anticipate “a certain market” for Iomega’s integrated offering considering that most small businesses will either backup to the cloud or backup to an external hard drive, but not both. But the biggest drawback, she noted, is around online backup because bandwidth limitations can make backing up a lengthy process. Hansen recommends incremental backup technology to reduce wait time.

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