Zmanda: Open Source Backup Meets Managed Services

Zmanda: Open Source Backup Meets Managed Services

Zmanda CEO Chander Kant on Managed ServicesZmanda is connecting the dots between open source backup, cloud-based storage, Microsoft applications and managed services. Zmanda CEO Chander Kant told me a bit about the effort Thursday in New York. Here are some details.

Kant was in Manhattan to discuss Zmanda’s support of Sun Microsystems’ new open cloud computing platform — which is expected to compete with Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3).

During our discussion, we covered a range of topics including Zmanda’s:

  • Channel and cloud strategy (updates coming soon on TheVARguy.com)
  • Upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 Linux support (details on WorksWithU, the independent guide to Ubuntu)
  • Managed service provider strategy

Zmanda and Managed Services So Far

Although Zmanda has only 50 employees, the company has 500,000 deployments. And Zmanda's backup software protects both open source  and closed source applications across Windows, Linux and Unix.

Now imagine this: As applications such as business intelligence or CRM shift to Amazon's EC2 cloud, they will need some sort of backup service that either (A) lives in a cloud as well or (B) lives on a premise and backs up data fetched from a cloud. Kant says Zmanda will cover both items A and B.

Next up, Kant is polishing Zmanda's MSP strategy. The big challenge is coordinating billing between:
  1. The service providers
  2. Customers
  3. Zmanda
  4. And a cloud service
"Who bills what to whom," quips Kant?

Open vs. Closed Approaches: Pros and Cons

Proprietary systems such as Symantec Protection Network (which offers online storage) don't suffer such challenges, since Symantec controls its cloud, the storage software and the billing system for VARs working with customers.

In stark contrast, Zmanda wants to maintain an open approach -- plugging into multiple clouds and online applications, and offering open APIs for MSPs to add more value on Zmanda's software. Those commitments give customers and MSPs more flexibility -- but they also trigger the pricing/billing challenge.

Right now, notes Kant, Amazon will bill customers on a monthly basis, based on the amount of bandwidth and storage the customer consumed. Next up, Kant is working on a solution that will offer per-user billing that MSPs can coordinate with their customers. I don't have deep details involving availability, but it sounded like a near-term effort.

Zmanda's early success in Amazon.com's S3 cloud and new relationship with Sun's cloud make me believe Kant is moving fast in the MSP direction. But I know Zmanda is not the only cloud storage option for MSPs. Vembu, for instance, offers MSPs backup software that ties into Amazon EC2.

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