April 10, 2020
Unitrends’ new Helix AI-powered automated data backup platform aims to help channel partners make data backup easier for their customers.
Helix is a SaaS-based tool that automatically fixes backup problems without user intervention using self-healing processes. It is a preconfigured add-on to Unitrends’ Recovery Series and Unitrends Backup appliances. The automated data backup management tool uses artificial intelligence to fix many common backup issues that IT administrators face.
Unitrends’ Mike Sanders
“Helix’s unique value is that it evolves quickly and continuously learns more use cases and common problems to remediate over time,” said Sanders. “Most backup vendors leave it to IT admins to monitor, detect and remediate conditions that impact backups. Unitrends Helix is an intelligent engine that automates these tasks so internal IT teams or MSPs can focus on more important issues or just get more time back in their day.”
Using AI, Helix works to resolve power monitoring, remediation and maintenance issues for users. By tracking the real-time status of backed-up devices and monitoring backup servers, Helix catches issues as they happen, said Sanders.
“The tool looks at the configurations of the assets before the backup runs to determine the likelihood of failure, which means fewer failed backups and quicker remediation for those that do.”
Helix also remediates problems within protected guest operating systems, such as disk space and network connectivity problems.
“Not only are these services critical to maintaining data protection, but they are also the most commonly reported root causes of backup and recovery failures,” he said. “Future versions of Helix will also intelligently increase recovery point objectives (RPOs) and automate recoveries after certain failure conditions.”
The automated data backup tool also provides automated maintenance of backup infrastructure so it can keep appliances up to date.
“Partners and customers that manage backup and disaster recovery have asked for various tools and feature suggestions to identify and catch issues in the surrounding environment that can impact backups,” said Sanders. “This is because these tend to be the most time-consuming issues to resolve. They can sometimes take days.”
For MSPs and other channel partners who help customers with data backup, Helix will be an important tool, he said.
“Helix gives MSPs – and anyone managing backup and DR – time back in their day,” said Sanders. “For any condition that Helix can detect and remediate, that’s typically hours to days of time they get back, which can help their bottom line.”
In addition, partners who sell the automated data backup technology can gain new ways to build recurring revenue, he said.
The Helix agent checks for service-related issues in Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS), which are critical for backup services. The system sends reports to the user if it finds and remediates any issues through service restarts.
Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Christophe Bertrand said Helix adds important new capabilities for Unitrends partners and customers.
ESG’s Christophe Bertrand
“Ease of use and operational efficiency have become critical against a backdrop of constant data growth and pressures to support the availability of data and applications of key business functions,” said Bertrand. “Our research shows that IT is only becoming more complex, and that data protection is the No. 1 area for investments in the data center for 2020.”
Using AI to help simplify some of those complexities is important, he said.
“Channel partners will benefit by having an improved solution to help their customers improve RPOs and RTOs, maintenance and general backup hurdles with Helix. Unitrends is spot on with this new capability, and I expect competitors will take notice,” said Bertrand.
Another analyst, Rob Enderle of Enderle Group, said tools that automate labor-intensive tasks like backup management help busy IT teams. Such teams are typically underfunded and understaffed, so automation is welcomed, he said.
“It is ideal for partners who want to provide value to IT and lower their workload so they can consider other projects,” said Enderle. “If they free up time, that can provide the potential for additional sales opportunities. And, even if they don’t, IT will appreciate having the extra free time.”
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