Data Protection Goes Mobile

Asigra Inc. safeguards mobile-device data with an inventive, cloud-based protection service

Eran Farajun, executive vice president, followed his father into the data-backup business.

Long a leader in data backup, recovery, and restoration (BURR) solutions, the fast-growing, Toronto-based Asigra is the first company to extend cloud-based BURR protection to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Such innovation is the result of a company culture dedicated to farsighted development, according to Eran Farajun, Asigra’s executive vice president.

Asigra was established in 1986 out of the ruins of a prior software company, owned by Eran’s father, David. When a computer crash destroyed his data, David lost his business but found an idea. “He asked other programmers what they did when they lost their data,” Eran says. “When they told him the answer was to start all over again, he realized that there had to be a better solution.” David also realized that businesspeople didn’t have the time or technical skills to perform data backups themselves.

Selling the idea proved difficult, however. “When [my father] approached other businesses, they said, ‘Why should we trust you to back up our data?’” Eran says. Undaunted, the elder Farajun queried prospective customers and found they did trust their IT-service providers. “So he changed his business model and packaged the service as a software solution, selling backup software to service providers who used it to deliver electronic data-vaulting services.”

5 Questions
with Eran Farajun

1. What does innovation mean to your company?
Being ready to try different ideas and being willing to make mistakes in order to create really great ideas.

2. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
Backup will eventually become an innate feature of the computing environment, like BIOS or having an Internet browser as part of your operating system—not something you have to think about.

3. How do you cultivate innovation among your workforce?
We encourage employees to come up with wild ideas. If someone makes a mistake at Asigra, they don’t get fired.

4. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century?
Pushing the boundaries of technology and never accepting the status quo.

5. Where do you hope innovation will lead Asigra in the next five years?
There’s a whole phenomenon going on in IT that’s called the “consumerization” of IT. In the past, users would come to the central IT department, and IT would tell them what kind of machines they could use. Now, people bring their own mobile devices, and the IT department has to accommodate them. That’s why we created the ability in our most recent release to back up data on tablets and smartphones, so that corporate, central IT departments don’t run afoul of their responsibility.

As the Internet became a trusted business conduit, and data could be cheaply moved onto widely dispersed storage networks, Asigra was well positioned to offer cloud-based BURR solutions. “Businesspeople began to say, ‘I don’t need to buy the backup technology or the software and manage it myself; I need to concentrate on my own core business,’” Eran explains. “They wanted their service providers to do this for them.” The service provides went looking for backup solutions, and they found Asigra.

More than 400,000 customers’ sites now receive Asigra Cloud Backup, offered through a global ecosystem of managed-service providers. “Backup is now seen as something that should be done as a service rather than a core function that a business should handle on its own,” Eran says. “Your stock price doesn’t go up or down based on whether you do data backup yourself or outsource it.”

The proliferation of mobile-computing devices is changing the data-backup business. “People began to use their smartphones and laptops on the road, and when they lost data, they came to us and asked us to create a mobile backup,” Eran says.

Asigra responded with the first BURR product to protect mobile-device data, featuring apps for Android and Apple iOS devices. “Asigra’s solution is specifically designed for cloud computing,” Eran says, “and offers characteristics that are really best suited for the cloud, like elasticity and pay-per-use and loose coupling with hardware—meaning that you can run it on any kind of hardware that you like.”

Another important aspect of Asigra is that its software doesn’t require the installation of agent software on protected machines, making it less intrusive and much safer. “Hackers target backup agents because they know the agents access all the data on the machine,” Eran explains. “If you’re ‘agentless,’ there is no target to hack into.” Because of reasons like this, Asigra is the only cloud-backup solution accredited by the US government, holding Federal Information Processing Standard certification.

For Eran, lingering concerns over cloud-based data security are misplaced. “Data is like money,” he says. “You can keep it in your mattress, or give it over to a bank that has a buried steel vault and armed guards. The bank knows a lot more about keeping money safe than you do.”