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Spanning poised to extend cloud-to-cloud backup capabilities

Spanning Cloud Apps CEO Jeff Erramouspe predicts 2014 will be a big year for cloud-to-cloud backup. That, of course, would be a good thing for his company, which provides backup for Google Apps and

Spanning enters 2014 with a new CEO (Erramouspe replaced founder Charlie Wood Nov. 1), a GA version of Backup for Salesforce due within the next few months and enterprise momentum from its entry in the EMC Select program as a partner of EMC’s Mozy cloud backup software.

Demand is also rising as more companies host key applications in the cloud. “If people are all-in on the cloud and we can do all five of their apps, that puts us in a good position,” Erramouspe said.

So far, Spanning Backup protects two apps. As with its main competitor Backupify, Spanning began backing up Google Apps. That was in 2011. In late 2013, Spanning added a private beta program for Salesforce.

Erramouspe said Spanning is looking to expand to more applications. He said he has been approached by companies in the Salesforce ecosystem, such as cloud CRM vendor Veeva, about building backup for them. But the next major addition will likely be backup for Microsoft Office 365.

“Our big partner [EMC] is interested in that,” Erramouspe said. “They make a lot of money backing up Exchange on premise. They don’t want to lose that revenue stream as the customer goes to the cloud.”

Spanning’s Backup for Google Apps appears on the Google “more” menu, and admins can determine what files they back up. Spanning notifies customers of every file that hasn’t been backed up as well as sync errors that otherwise could go undetected.

Spanning backs up data on Amazon Web Services, storing the files on S3. The company may add the ability to back up cloud apps to an on-site disk appliance this year, although Erramouspe said he has no intention of protecting on-premise apps.

“I don’t ever see is doing on-premise data,” he said. “Our sources are cloud applications.”

Another short-term goal for Spanning Backup is to do restores inside the Salesforce appication, as it does for Google Apps. Today Salesforce restores are done by exporting the data and re-importing it back. “There’s a lot of manual effort involved,” Erramouspe said.

Erramouspe said Spanning has about 3,000 domain customers (including Netflix) on Google Apps, which is about one-quarter the number of Google domains Backupify claims to protect. The products have slightly different pricing models. Backupify charges a monthly subscription and Spanning requires an annual fee up front. Erramouspe said customers who signed up in 2013 have renewed at about a 96% rate.

Spanning charges $40 per year per user with a 99.9% uptime SLA, and unlimited storage.

Backupify and others storage-based options that charge customers on a per TB or GB basis. Erramouspe said storage-based pricing “doesn’t make a ton of sense, it means we have to keep track of usage. We price per user per year with unlimited storage.”

Other cloud-to-cloud backup competitors include CloudAlly and SysCloud, and Asigra Cloud Backup for service providers can also protect Google Apps and Salesforce.

Perhaps the biggest threat to the cloud-to-cloud backup providers would be if the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors decided to offer their own built-in backup. But they have shown little interest in that so far. Without a backup app, getting lost data back from a SaaS provider can cost thousands of dollars.

“Google has [Apps] Vault and they’re saying they will extend that to Google Drive, but we haven’t seen it yet,” Erramouspe said. “I am a little bit concerned about that. I don’t think Salesforce wants to deal with it. They offer a restore service today and go back to tapes, but it’s a high price point and takes weeks to happen. They want to get out of that. But even if Google offers backups, what do I do if I can’t get to my Google application?”

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