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Unitrends talks investment and acquisition

Unitrends sets a stake in the ground with a round of private funding and its acquisition of PHD Virtual

A dart hits the centre of a pie chart labelled "Goals".

Backup and recovery specialist Unitrends has revealed how a cash injection by a private equity firm, and its subsequent acquisition of PHD Virtual Technologies, is helping to fuel its international growth.

Speaking with Channel Pro, Mark Campbell, Unitrends’ chief strategy and technology officer, said the investment last October by Insight Ventures ensures “we now have a multi-billion dollar fund now backing the company.”

The firm has also bolstered its product offering in recent months. Following the round of funding, Unitrends acquired virtual backup and DR firm PHD Virtual, expanding the vendor’s portfolio of physical, virtual and cloud-based backup and recovery products. As such it now includes a virtual appliance, PHD Virtual Backup 7, which the firm is positioning to compete against market leader Veeam – the difference being it can protect environments using Hyper V, vSphere  and Xen platforms, the latter of which is currently unsupported by its main rival.

“We’ve broadened it out to our resellers, and [we] have this product that does more than Veeam in a virtual environment,” claims Campbell.

Unitrends also acquired a product called Reliable DR, a disaster recovery solution that allows organisations to automatically test their RPO (Recovery Point Objective) and RTO (Recovery Time Objective) within a VMware environment, at an OS and application level.

“Truly automating recovery is a difficult task... [Post acquisition] we can extend that with automated recovery in the cloud,” says Campbell.

Growth plans

The US vendor has only been in the UK for little more than a year, and now has 12 people employees on the ground. Although the vendor hasn’t publicly stated exactly how much money Insight Ventures ploughed into the business, Campbell says the investment “can really put some gas on the fire” when it comes to its expansion plans.

Globally, Unitrends achieved a 67 percent increase in bookings year-over-year and added more than 1,700 new customers in 2013. In its last quarter (Q4 2013), the company continued its charge toward its target of $100m in annual revenue with a 69 percent increase in bookings, and the addition of 550 new customers.

It currently has 75 channel partners in the UK – a figure that has stayed steady for the past six months, with the vendor unwilling to go hell for leather with an expansive recruitment campaign.

“The key for me when we started the UK market was not to dilute margin, to make sure as a new vendor we were margin-rich, to justify the investment that is required for a new vendor,” explains Kevin Moreau, Unitrends’ managing director for EMEA. “We’re still keen to have that in place.”

“We believe the right way to handle the channel is to make each one of our partners more successful before trying to sign up a thousand partners,” agrees Campbell. “You see companies bragging about how they’ve doubled or tripled their amount of partners, but ninety percent of them only do one deal a year. That’s not how we want to build this company.”

Speaking to Channel Pro last September, Eric Dougherty, vice president of worldwide sales for Unitrends, said the firm will be “much more channel-centric” in Europe than in the US. He added that it is looking for the European market to make up 20 percent of its global business “within a two or three year time frame.”

Unitrends has two distributors in the UK: e92plus and CMS Distribution.

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