Is Licensing Sexy? Asigra Might Think So, And So Might You

We were pleased to welcome Eran Farajun and Asigra back to Tech Field Day with a presentation at the VMworld US 2013 Tech Field Day Roundtables. I’ve also seen them present a differently-focused talk with live demo at Storage Field Day 2 in November 2012.

Disclosure: As a delegate to the Tech Field Day Roundtables at VMworld US 2013, I received support for my attendance at VMworld US. I received no compensation from sponsors of the Roundtables, nor Tech Field Day/Gestalt IT, nor were they promised any coverage in return for my attendance. All comments and opinions are my own thoughts and of my own motivation.

Asigra Who?

Asigra has exclusively developed backup and recovery technology for over 25 years. Let that sink in for a moment. Most of the companies I’ve worked for haven’t been in business for 25 years, and most companies change horses if not streams along the way.

But Asigra continues to grow, and evolve their products, a quarter of a century into the journey. They introduced agentless backup, deduplication (in 1993), FIPS140-2 certification in a cloud backup platform, and a number of other firsts in the market.

One reason you may never have heard of Asigra is that they don’t sell direct to the end user. They work through their service provider and partner network to aggregate access and expertise close to the end user. Of course the company backs their products and their partners, but you get the value add of the partner’s network of support personnel as well. And you might never know it was Asigra under the hood.

So what’s Asigra’s take on licensing?

In 1992, Asigra moved to a capacity-based licensing model, one that many of us are familiar with today. You pay a license fee one way or another based on the amount of data that is pushed to the backup infrastructure. This has been seen in various flavors, sometimes volume-based, sometimes slot-based or device capped. Restores are effectively free, but it’s likely that you rarely use them.

Think in terms of PTO or Vacation days (backup) and Sick Days (recovery). You probably have a certain amount of each, and while PTO may roll over if you don’t use it, those 19 sick days you didn’t use last year went away. Imagine if you could get something for the recovery days you didn’t have to use. Asigra thought about this (although not with the same analogy) and made it happen.

Introducing Recovery License Model

So in 2013, Asigra changed to what they call RLM, or Recovery License Model. You pay part of your licensing for backups, and part for recoveries. There are safety valves on both extremes, so that if you do one backup and have to restore it all shortly thereafter, you’re not screwed (not by licensing, at least–but have a chat with your server/software vendor). And if you have a perfect environment and never need to restore, Asigra and your reseller/partner can still make a living.

Your licensing costs are initially figured on the past 6 months’ deduped restore capacity. (After the first two 6-month periods, you are apportioned based on the past 12 months.) If you restored 25% of your backups, you pay 50 cents per gigabyte per month (list price). If you restored 5% or less of your backups, you’re paying 17 cents per gigabyte per month.

You don’t get fined for failed backups of any sort. Hardware failure, software failure, or some combination–it doesn’t count against you. You also get a waiver for the largest recovery event–so if your storage infrastructure melts into the ground like a big ol’ glowing gopher, you can focus on recovering to new hardware, not appeasing your finance department.

For those of you testing your backup/restore for disaster recovery purposes (that’s all of you, right?), you can schedule a DR drill at 7 cents per gigabyte per month for that recovery’s usage. Once again, it’s deduped capacity, so backing up 1000 VDI desktops doesn’t mean 1000 times 3GB of Windows binaries/DLLs. And your drill’s data expires at the end of the 6 month window, so don’t count on fire drills as permanent backups.

So where do we go from here?

I know a couple of my fellow delegates were disappointed with the focus on Asigra’s licensing innovations, and that there wasn’t more talk of erasure codes and app-centric backups, but they’re probably not the ones writing the checks for software licensing for enterprises. 

Is this the sexiest thing you’ve seen in tech this quarter? Maybe not. I’d point toward Pernix Data and Infinio for that distinction, in all honesty. But Asigra’s RLM is yet another in a series of innovations in what might be the most innovative DR/BC company you’d never heard of before.

Asigra estimates immediate savings of 40%, and long term savings of over 60% by separating backup and recovery costs.

As an aside, Asigra’s latest software version, 12.2 (released earlier in 2013), backs up Google Apps as well as traditional on-site applications and datastores. Support for Office 365 backups is coming soon.

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One thought on “Is Licensing Sexy? Asigra Might Think So, And So Might You

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