Channel partner programs, CSPs, MSP

Acronis Strategy: Emulate Microsoft Service Provider Licensing

John Zanni
John Zanni
Serguei Beloussov

Don't call Acronis a backup company. Instead, CEO Serguei Beloussov has refocused the business on software-defined storage (SDS). His big-picture thought: Service providers will need SDS to address the coming artificial intelligence revolution -- and all the resulting data protection needs.

Still, that long-term vision includes real-time execution with service providers, according to Chief Marketing Officer John Zanni. Indeed, the Acronis service provider ecosystem now includes 750 companies, up from about 200 last year. And the service provider ecosystem will top 1,200 companies by the end of this year, Zanni says. Moreover, the Acronis Backup Cloud has grown about 268 percent in the past year, said Beloussov.

What's the secret to Acronis's channel growth? A two-part answer emerged during an Acronis partner gathering in Austin, Texas.

  • First, Acronis is emulating the Microsoft SPLA (service provider licensing agreement) business model, according to Zanni. That approach ensures channel partners instantly understand how to embrace and go to market with Acronis's offerings. "The partner program is fully ramped up," said Beloussov.
  • Second, Acronis has expanded its strategy beyond backup to address additional storage software opportunities. "We're no longer a backup company," said Beloussov. "We're a storage software company." And the big emphasis is software-defined storage, he added.

Acronis: Thinking Bigger

The expanded business focus reflects the cloud, mobile and social waves -- which have made unlimited computing resources available everywhere, Beloussov said. In response, Acronis is helping channel partners to manage and protect all of that information.

But Acronis won't stop there. The company is now striving to manage data as the next major IT waves emerge. Beloussov organizes those waves into four categories.

  • Automation: Including IoT, robots, drones, self-driving cars, 3D printing and next-generation technologies.
  • Monetization: FinTech, Big Data and BitCoin. He also mentioned Blockchain's distributed ledger enabling a new range of transactions.
  • Satisfying Basic Needs ("The meaning of life"): Wearable technology, Virtual Reality, Life Sciences, Safety, Security, Privacy, Space Exploration.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Software defined and machine learning are happening now, with quantum computing emerging over the next five to 10 years.

"All of those trends point to the reality of the physical world becoming digital," said Beloussov. "And in the digital world, the most important thing to save is data. It will become more and more important to save your data."

Acronis: More Service Providers

All of those new applications will create new storage and data management needs, Beloussov asserts. But even before AI goes mainstream, Acronis continues to expand its service provider base.

Looking ahead to the end of 2017, the Acronis business strategy calls for an ecosystem of roughly 2,400 service providers -- up from the 1,200 target at the end of 2016, Zanni says.

But how exactly does Acronis compete against BDR (backup and disaster recovery) companies across the IT channel and within the MSP ecosystem? That's a blog for another day. But here are some clues. Beloussov says Acronis enables partners and customers to control:

  1. Deployment
  2. Licensing
  3. Packaging
  4. Destination (store in any cloud)
  5. Delivery
  6. Partner strategy
  7. Business model
  8. Technology model

I'd say more. But my flight home awaits. I'll be sure to revisit Acronis and its partner strategy in the weeks ahead.

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.