There’s an oft-quoted phrase along the lines of, “You never get a second chance to make a [good] first impression.” Apart from its obvious semantic tautology, what’s also interesting is that (a) there’s considerable debate about the attribution of the quote itself (apparently whoever first used it didn’t make a good enough impression!?), and (b) it lacks context. FalconStor is a pretty well-known name in IT circles, but it’s been busy in recent years crafting a new—relevant, timely, and high-potential—first impression.
Over the years, FalconStor has been known for things like VTL-based backup and broader storage virtualization aspirations, but lately, it has focused on providing optimized hybrid cloud data protection for sale to—and through—the MSP community. My colleagues Christophe Bertrand and Monya Keane recently produced a great paper that summarizes the key market reasons that this approach is so necessary and timely, as well as FalconStor’s excellent solution offering. But I’m not blogging to simply produce a precis of an already excellent write-up.
Instead, I really want to focus on how FalconStor has both adapted to—and is consequently now driving—the contemporary hybrid cloud data protection and disaster recovery worlds. It’s a lesson in pragmatic business sense. After all, as Lao Tzu put it centuries ago, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” And FalconStor’s older direction set it in competition with the broader storage community that was intent on pushing homogeneous disaster recovery technology, where the technical sophistication of its solutions could all too easily be lost in the inevitable “us vs. them” sales cycle.
A change of direction was called for, and indeed, FalconStor actually seized its opportunity and changed multiple things. First and foremost, FalconStor refocused on its core data protection chops (including such contemporary capability prerequisites as end-to-end encryption, cloud endpoints like AWS and Azure, and data immutability available in any destination). But, what has it done on the business front?
- FalconStor's prime sales/partnering focus is now the MSP community. That’s smart for two reasons: First, there’s a clear and large market need (no one needs convincing of the importance of data protection and cyber-resilience, and in today’s hybrid world, MSPs are having a larger role both in general, and especially in data protection and data security); second, MSPs represent a target group that a smaller organization like FalconStor can address and serve well.
- FalconStor tore up the old market-norm, pay-by-the-GB approach to pricing, which was complex and time-consuming for everyone involved. Instead, it now offers a true SaaS model with one flat monthly rate per client. Such a ‘no surprises’ approach appeals to end-user customers of course, but it also creates a simple business model for—and between—both FalconStor and its MSP clients.
- MSPs also appreciate the ability to scale their operations using FalconStor’s “software scale-out building block” approach to enhanced solutions. This enables MSPs to move on from the limitations of the box-based approach of the industry’s past and to customize solutions at their customers’ sites and in their own cloud (if they have one), while realizing the value of delivering true hybrid cloud backup-as-a-service (again this is a win win; there’s flexible “right-solutioning” for users, and margin-healthy add-on service opportunities for the MSPs).
It’s a compelling mix and it’s paying dividends for FalconStor. And, like all the best things in IT, when you step back, it just looks obvious! But common sense ain’t that common! No one wants complexity; everyone wants simple sophistication. And sophistication—at an enterprise-grade level—is something FalconStor has in spades. But neither MSPs nor their clients want to be bothered with managing that sophistication; they just want to enjoy its benefits. FalconStor took a refreshing new lens to the market and has managed to come up with a model that is simple and good for itself, simple and good for its clients, and simple and good for its clients’ clients. We don’t see enough of this from IT vendors; all too often it is a matter of specification leapfrog, with a dash of business model intransigence thrown in. I started with a quote, so I’ll close with one: Albert Einstein said that “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” On that basis, FalconStor is demonstrating ample smarts!