N-able: cloud-oriented backup and data replication

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The back-up as a service and data replication market is far from being saturated. Specialized actors like N-able can find their place.

N-able's back-up as a service solution ensures a compression rate

N-able’s story is quite original since it was initially intimately linked to a certain SolarWinds. Originally created in 2000, the company was bought out in 2013 by the publisher of Orion for $120 million and became SolarWinds MSP once merged with Logicnow acquired in 2016. After leaving the bosom of the supplier – just before the eponymous case – N-able then became an independent company again last July. However, with its capital still Solarwinds, but also the Silver Lake and Thoma Bravo funds. A heavy history to bear? Not that much apparently. If the back-up as a service market is already crowded, there is still time for specialized players to make their mark. This is the case of N-able, which has entered this niche with a data protection approach. “We have the ability to recover data following attacks for managed service providers, with a very low price and multi-tenant tools,” explained Chris Groot, general manager of N-able on the occasion of an IT Press Tour update on February 16, 2022. It must be said that the context is particularly buoyant with investments in security and cloud which are constantly progressing. By adopting a cloud-first strategy, N-able offers a SaaS service based on data replication and recovery, regardless of location. With its offer, N-able wants to extend backup capabilities beyond the perimeter of the company and its on-premise environment. A priesthood when you know that in the context of ransomware operations, hackers no longer hesitate – and above all seek – to encrypt them.

N-able provides file-based protection rather than virtual machine image. “We provide MSPs with tools to avoid ransomware payloads and recover critical data,” says Chris Groot. For this, the company has understood that the market is moving towards flexible and integrated solutions on which it is positioning itself. “We have the benefit of having integrated stacks, a scale-out architecture and erasure coding,” said the manager. In addition to this, failover functions are also offered. Objective: to offer a remediation service to deal with cyber risks, in particular ransomware, and enable MSP customers to quickly recover their data. And on the security side? “We have processes in place to ensure that the code developed is completely secure,” replied Chris Grott. “We do bug bounty to make sure there are no vulnerabilities.”

25,000 MSP customers in 22 countries

In a context of increasing tiering, N-able offers its own private cloud, but can also retrieve data from the Azure public cloud. “We have the flexibility to standardize and use the public cloud and cloud-to-cloud storage management,” continues Chris Grott. Administrators also have a big role to play in disaster recovery. And it is not thanks to the tapes that it will be able to be done in the most effective way. “It’s not the best solution, it’s not ideal in terms of speed,” warns the leader. Regarding the primary copies, they can be migrated elsewhere in other datacenters with network segregation. That’s not all since the publisher is also relying on a content data protection mechanism depending on the sources of workloads. Worldwide, N-able has 25,000 MSP customers in 22 countries.

N-able claims a cloud and as a service offer based on a control plane, direct to cloud (back up with local copy of data, but optional). According to him, its technology ensures a high compression rate in order to reduce the storage volume, divided by 5 times compared to other offers. Finally, the solution is based on a private cloud distributed in 30 datacenters. The main services backed up today are Microsoft 365 data as well as servers and workstations. But N-able does not rule out extending this scope in the future to other applications.

A reduced volume of data for an upload that gains in speed

To counter common misconceptions, N-able highlights the fact that data recovery is not a long and complex process. A way to play down the situation, but can it be otherwise? Customers quoted by N-able think in any case that this service meets their needs in a relevant way. “Backups that used to take 8 hours now take only 10 minutes,” said Kyle Orr, network engineer at Orr Systems. To support his remarks, N-able explains that a traditional stored image whose incremental volume is 30 GB, goes to N-able at 0.5 GB, with the key to a considerable gain in recovery time (upload) which goes from 68.3 Mb/s to 1.1 Mb/s. The same goes for Luke Fairbank, Fred IT’s back-up manager, who mentions a 90% saving in time spent managing backups.

In the 3rd quarter of 2021 N-able made $88.4 million, up 16% year on year for a profit of $1.87 million against a loss a year ago of $1.13 million. Its revenue from subscriptions amounted to $86.1 million, up nearly 17% over the period.

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