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SOS OnLine Backup Looks For Small Biz VARs

Posted by iMark - 2006-04-18

SOS Online Backup is looking to recruit about 1,000 solution providers within the next 12 months to bring secure online backup services to small businesses.

The company, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, with a corporate office in Arlington, Va., has entered the United States market with an all-channel strategy and is looking for looking solution providers to resell and host its services, said Ken Shaw, head of U.S. operations.

The company is one of a number of vendors looking to the channel to offer such services to the small business space, a space industry observers say represents a fast-growing opportunity.

The SOS Online Backup Service is targeted at businesses with less than 100 users, said Shaw. "Beyond that, businesses already have something else in place," he said. "Smaller businesses don't have backup or disaster recovery plans in place."

Data can be backed up over the internet to SOS's hosted data center in Texas or to the solution provider's own hosted infrastructure, said Shaw.

The most important part of the service is encryption, Shaw said. All data is encrypted before sending using AES encryption at the 256-bit level, or up to 1,024 bits outside of the U.S.

The standard security includes sending a copy of the encryption password to SOS for use in recovering data if needed. However, customers also have an Ultra Safe Mode option, Shaw said.

"With Ultra Safe Mode, we don't store the encryption password," he said. "Not even our engineers can access the data. If you lose the password, you lose the data."

Only data that has changed since the last backup is sent over the Internet in order to compress the bandwidth needed, Shaw said. "We compare each file to the previous version and look just for the 1s and 0s that changed," he said. "It may be only 25 Kbytes of changes. We then compress that. It's very efficient."

New to the SOS service this month is live continuous backup, which monitors the list of files and folders to be backed up for changes. As changes occur, they are trickled to the on-line storage. "So at the worst case, companies lose a minute or two of data," Shaw said.

SOS also just added the ability to back up open files so that it is not necessary to close an Exchange server or similar application in order to protect the data.

In May, SOS may release a NAS appliance to do continuous data backups at the local level, with changes then sent online, Shaw said. The advantage to such an appliance is quick recovery of a file. "Also, some customers want to see the physical device in the corner," he said.

The company offers a four-tiered channel program.

At the managed services SOS reseller level, solution providers pay a one-time fee of $995, which gets them space on SOS's storage infrastructure, on-line credit card and sign-up services,and information to use for setting up e-mail marketing and radio advertising. At this level, solution providers keep 50 percent of the revenue from the first 12 months of a customer contract and 30 percent starting the second year. "So if you sell a $100 contract, you get $50 the first year, and $30 per year after that," Shaw said.

The second level, managed services agent, is for solution providers looking to sell the service but leave all the customer support to SOS. At this level, agents pay $199 up front for all the "hand-holding" needed to get customers signed up. They are eligible for 30 percent of revenue from the first 12 months of a customer contract and 20 percent for renewals.

Solution providers who have their own data centers can sign up at the SOS license partner level. They pay on a per-client seat basis and can rebrand the service and keep 100 percent of the revenue. SOS provides remote installation, management and monitoring of the service. A license for 250 seats might cost about $13,000, Shaw said.

The company is also looking for SOS distributors, which are large partners including ISPs or even VARs who are looking for a country-exclusive contract, Shaw said.

Small businesses can expect to pay about $75 per year for 1 Gbyte of capacity, or about $340 per year for 10 Gbytes, Shaw said.



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