I received a few messages from folks that told me I wasn’t being fair in my assessment of backup, Dell, and AppAssure. Some of these folks are involved in the deal and thus can’t speak publicly. But I wanted to attempt to take their discussions and address each point that was made – because one thing that I want to do in this blog is give other people the chance to tell me where they think I’m wrong and/or biased.

At the same time, to be clear, I’m not trying to be polite here. I think that the people who actually use backup, i.e., customers, have for far too long been screwed over because people weren’t willing to stand up and call out some of the worst practices of the industry. Bottom line: I’m going to call out what I perceive to be the truth – and then listen when other people tell me what they perceive to be the truth.

Okay – with that said – here’s the feedback so far:

AppAssure has more customers than Unitrends, even though Unitrends is older than AppAssure.

Part of me wants to go into product offerings and ASP (Average Sales Price) and all of that – but I think if I go down that route I’m not taking a customer perspective – which is something I try to focus upon in this blog. So I’m going to take another approach.

The fact is that AppAssure has a great growth rate. Last I looked, AppAssure had a bigger customer base than Unitrends. And I think I should have in fairness spoken about that in the first post. So here goes. AppAssure has done a FANTASTIC job with growth. The company is rumored to be at about $20M in revenue – and it’s a tribute to the company that they were able to achieve that in six years. Great job!

Because AppAssure has more customers than Unitrends when denominated by the number of years each has been “alive”, AppAssure is superior.

I don’t follow this one as much. I think you have to call out what “superior” means. From what I understand, I think it’s absolutely fair to say that AppAssure has great growth – particularly in homogeneous Windows environment. This is like calling out that a particular virtualization-only company has great growth rates in homogeneous VMware environments. What I think is probably the most important arguments come down to things like customer satisfaction.

Unitrends has a 98% NPS (Net Promoter Score) rating on customer satisfaction. I’ll admit, we tend to focus pretty hard on that. Then again, it may be unfair – I’ve always thought that it’s easier to have higher customer satisfaction scores when you use an all-in-one approach. But at some point, you have to pick your reference point – and we tend to choose customer satisfaction.

AppAssure is better than Unitrends (note: the assumption here is that I was calling out in the previous post that Unitrends was better than AppAssure.)

Unitrends today sells an all-in-one vertically integrated appliance. AppAssure sells backup/replication software. They are certainly different. If you go beyond customer satisfaction and talk about platforms protected, technology, and the like, then I think there are a lot of arguments to be made – we make ours pretty plainly within our competitive benchmarks.

Now – do ***I*** think Unitrends is better than XYZ competitor? Sure! In general. But specifically, there are times each week when I tell buyers they’re better served going to another solution. It can be based on technology, or budget, or the characteristics of protected systems.

Take iSeries. Unitrends does a good job of protecting iSeries if the CPW rating of the iSeries and the amount of data that has to be protected matches the backup window – but I’ve recommended Vision Solutions (for example) when that didn’t work out. Or take fibre channel SAN with Linux hosts with an off-production proxy for certain arrays – the arrays we’ve supported in the past have been limited.

Mark is biased. Mark is slinging mud.

First, I absolutely ***AM*** biased. I try to note this up front in many posts – but the truth is that people who read what I write should note that I work for Unitrends.

However, in terms of “slinging mud”, what I said in the three bullet points in my post was what I hear. I do hear a lot about customer satisfaction issues at a lot of companies – and some companies more than others. That doesn’t mean “AppAssure sucks”, because with a lot of customers and a really high growth rate, there is going to be some dissatisfaction. Look – believe it or not – I get contacted by people talking to me about the fact that they’re upset about quality and deprecated features in Backup Exec, AppAssure, and others – got a note over the weekend about it.

Mark sucks. It doesn’t matter what Mark says, no one reads his blog anyway.

Ouch! 🙂

Listen – I think the best thing we can do for our buyers is be clear about our opinions. If I’m a buyer and I go to the XYZ web site and read something about XYZ and Backup Exec, I don’t expect that what I’m getting is the “only” truth – I expect that if XYZ has it on their web site, then I should take it with a grain of salt.

The truth is that I tend to see a lot more Backup Exec and CommVault and Tivoli than I see AppAssure when we’re competing for business – and the reason is that Unitrends tends to be focused on a different market with our physical appliances and heterogeneity.

In any case – that covers the main themes. I’ll keep writing if there are different points of views on this by folks who don’t want to go public while the deal is taking place.