What does it do?
Massachusetts-based ExaGrid, founded in 2002, specialises in disk backup with deduplication systems, which it claims revolutionise how organisations can protect their data.
How is it doing?
Pretty well, according to CEO Bill Andrews.
The business made $36m revenue last year, and has sold to 1,765 customers (with 94% of them still using ExaGrid), while more than 400 customers have spent between $100,000 and $1m with the company.
They are mostly all big players: Symantec, HP, Quantum, Dell and CommVault. What ExaGrid thinks sets it apart is its product.
The firm's been granted five patents, with three more pending, and believes it is its innovation which is the key factor in winning clients ahead of its much larger rivals.
"If you look at IT in general it's been cut to the bone," says product management VP Marc Crespi. "IT staff are at an all time low, supporting more and more employees and strategic projects but they're still stuck with back up.
"They want to do it faster and with as little management as possible. You need something simple and easy to use that uses existing backup software that doesn't take a long time to install."
ExaGrid says it delivers data from backup in minutes compared to hours, meaning companies using ExaGrid as compared to in-line vendors can bring things back much more quickly if the version of whatever software being used in production goes down.
Crespi adds: "Companies are most interested in how fast can they get their data back. That's the most important thing for a lot of them."
ExaGrid isn't interested in the big companies dealing with around 250TB of data. It's focused on the middle of the market, an area which CEO Bill Andrews reckons is worth $750m and growing, with data increasing 30% to 50% a year.
"As it grows it puts more and more stress and pressure on backup," says Andrews.
Only 10-15% of the firm's revenue comes from outside the States at the moment, though, with Europe account for 12% of foreign income.
And while backup is obviously horizontal by nature, Andrews believes there are some verticals which generate more data than others: healthcare, education and manufacturing.
"Hospitals need to back up because they're run 24/7. You have to take patients at any time of day, you can't be closed to backup," Andrews explains.
"Manufacturing runs around the block. Universities run around the clock. Students can attend adult classes at night so they run 24/7."
Future for the backup industry?
Well, with the amount of data rising by such a degree year-on-year the future looks bright for ExaGrid. With 48 of its 141 employees working in R&D, Andrews is confident his firm will stay ahead of the curve technically, but his biggest priority is expanding distribution.
"We have a great product but most customers don't know we exist," he admits. "They work with the big companies, we're the little guys."
But where does Andrews see the cloud fitting in over the next few years?
"We will see people walk to the cloud and not run," he believes. "It will be a question of saying what kind of stuff can I do and can't I do in the cloud."
Asked what he sees are the downsides to the solution, and he cites loss of performance as the biggest problem.
"Security concerns surround the cloud," he adds. "Your data is intermingled with other people's."
He thinks that mainly people will put non-sensitive/non-time-sensitive data and archived information in the cloud, down to security reasons but also the fact that most organisations want to be back up and running as quickly as possible, less possible from the cloud than from disk, he says.
But the biggest challenge facing backup in future is diminishing IT budgets, according to Andrews.
"IT is generally a cost centre. Backup tends to be not a user-facing thing and it gets less attention," he explains.
As a result, he believes, less and less money will be spent on it, despite its importance, as IT becomes a smaller part of an organisation.
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