Business continuity, Content, Networking

Acronis SCS CEO John Zanni Explains Government Data Security Strategy

Acronis, the well-known data protection software provider, has been pushing hard into the cybersecurity market. That effort should be on display during the Acronis Cyber Summit 2019 in October.

But the story doesn't end there. If you pull back the curtain a little more, you'll notice that the company also has another business called Acronis SCS -- led by CEO John Zanni.

Zanni is a familiar name across the IT channel and within the software market. He previously was president of Acronis; chief marketing officer at Parallels; and general manager of various businesses at Microsoft. In many cases, he focused entirely on strategic alliances and partner engagements -- particularly with service providers.

So what exactly is Zanni's strategy for Acronis SCS -- and how does that business differ from Acronis itself? ChannelE2E interviewed Zanni over email to gather some answers and insights.

ChannelE2E: How does Acronis SCS differ from the Acronis business that so many customers and partners already know?

Zanni: Acronis SCS serves the U.S. public sector with a focus on federal, state, and local governments, education and non-profit organizations, while Acronis Inc. handles all remaining industries and geographies. Acronis SCS products are built, tested, and supported in the United States by U.S. citizens, and sold through a select group of resellers within the U.S. to help mitigate supply chain risk. Our products go through three layers of internal testing, in addition to validation through a third party. Acronis SCS is also pursuing FIPS, Common Criteria, and DoDIN APL product certifications. Our customers will continue to benefit from emerging technologies like blockchain authentication and AI-based active protection. All of this provides the government with a diverse suite of edge-focused backup and recovery tools that are future-proof, meaning tools that provide support for some of the oldest legacy systems while assisting agencies along their IT modernization journeys.

ChannelE2E: How many employees do you have and where is the business based?

Zanni: Currently, we have 29 employees of which over 20% are US veterans. We are also proud to have three DoD SkillBridge interns working with us. We are growing fast and expect to double our size within the next 18 months.

We are based in Scottsdale, Arizona, a region where we are seeing a technology innovation boom. Additionally, we recently became a member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) to connect with other business leaders and help support this region’s increasing growth.

LinkedIn: John Zanni, CEO, Acronis SCS

You’re focused on “edge” data security. But “edge” means a lot of different things to different people. What’s your definition?

Zanni: Acronis SCS defines edge as anything outside of the data center, which includes everything from mobile devices, laptops, and tablets, to remote servers, connected machines, and the IoT. Government agencies have focused on securing a perimeter around their networks, but with the increase in devices, endpoints, a mobile workforce, and sophisticated threats, data is still extremely vulnerable. A recent survey we conducted in partnership with Market Connections showed 40% of federal employees are concerned with securing data in remote locations, and nearly half of respondents said their data was most at risk on an employee or contractor desktop or laptop. In addition, federal leaders expressed concern over lack of IT staff knowledge of edge security (42%).

ChannelE2E: How are you engaging partners – and what types of partners are you seeking? (CSPs, MSP, VARs, etc.)?

Zanni: Today we are focused on a small set of resellers who are supported by three US distributors: Ingram Micro, Lifeboat, and Silvereye. The resellers range from large, well-known companies to boutique firms that serve a specific purpose. They include: Arkay Inc, Blue Tech, Carrera Business Solutions, CDW-G, Connection, FCN Inc., Technology Solutions, FedTek, Fierce Software, Insight, PCM-G, Racom, SHI, TIG Technology Integration Group, TicoTech, and Zones. These resellers work with defense contractors to implement our solutions.

We will start working with CSPs and MSPs as we develop a cloud offering that meets US government requirements.

ChannelE2E: What are some of your key business priorities for the second half of 2019?

Zanni: Our primary business goals are to make sure government agencies are informed on data security issues and have a trusted partner with a track record of reliability. Our focus involves making sure agencies have the right future-proof tools to reduce vulnerabilities within their cyber postures and manage an ever-changing threat landscape. Our recent survey report on edge data security is our first major initiative to keep the federal government informed and abreast of data protection trends and how those trends impact security and operations.

We are also planting roots at the state and local level with a big focus on our home state of Arizona where there is a great need for specific data protection solutions like anti-ransomware and easy, fast, granular backup and recovery.

We will also be launching a new, hardened product for air-gapped environments and a cloud version for state and local governments.

ChannelE2E: What are your long-term priorities for the company?

Zanni: First and foremost, we want to do our part to help the public sector become cyber fit and protect the edge against any attacks. This includes being a cyber think tank and an advisor for Capitol Hill on emerging data security technologies. Second, we want to continue to be a veteran supportive company. And finally, we will continue to provide best-in-class edge data security and cyber protection software for the public sector.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.