How Object First Ended Waident’s 10-Year Hunt for Immutable Onsite Backup Storage

In my experience, you can learn a lot about a company and its products by talking with its management. There are some things, however, that only talking with a partner will teach you.

I’ve spoken with the senior leadership of Object First about its one and only solution, an immutable storage appliance for Veeam backups called Ootbi, several times. John Quinn (pictured), principal at Chicago-based Waident Technology Solutions, a cybersecurity and IT managed service provider that focuses on support, security, strategy, and secure cloud, is the first Object First partner I’ve had the chance to meet. Hearing the backstory on how Ootbi helped Waident fill a critical need in its backup strategy reinforces just how rare systems like Ootbi are and just how big a difference finding one backed by a channel-only vendor can make for a VAR or MSP and its customers alike.

Scary Situation

Founded some 20 years ago, Waident has customers with as few as a dozen employees and as many as several thousand in a range of vertical industries. The company uses Veeam software to protect about 98% of those clients from data loss.

“Veeam is absolutely critical,” Quinn says.

Waident stores more than 2.5 PB of backups at two offsite facilities in the U.S. and another in Europe. Immutability for that data was initially an add-on offered at extra cost. “Now we’re just saying, ‘here’s your cost of backups with immutability.’ It’s not an option,” Quinn notes.

The reason why is no mystery to anyone familiar with the savage toll ransomware has taken on businesses in recent years. “Attackers will compromise the domain and then go for the backups so you can’t restore,” Quinn says. “It’s just scary.”

Immutable offsite backup storage is an essential part of a strategy for sparing customers that fate, but having an onsite equivalent is equally important to ensure rapid recovery in the event of data loss or encryption. Finding the right solution for that need, though, turned out to be a long process for Quinn and his team. Like, really long.

“We evaluated probably eight to 10 products over 10 years,” he recalls. Some were hardware-based, others software-based, but all were designed to address multiple use cases and a variety of storage functions. That seeming flexibility resulted in complexity and compromises Quinn wasn’t willing to make. While those solutions addressed many solutions, data protection wasn’t their strong suit.

“They tried to solve too many problems,” Quinn says. The NAS devices many other solution providers used for local backup storage, meanwhile, had issues of their own. “Those are a single point of failure,” Quinn explains, and they’re not easy to chain together when you need to add capacity.

Quinn wanted a simpler, more scalable purpose-built solution with rock-solid reliability.  Needless to say, any solution he chose would have to make tampering with backups all but impossible too. “Immutability was a requirement,” Quinn says.

Immutability by default

Quinn discovered Ootbi shortly after its launch. Right away, he could see how many of the items on his checklist it satisfied, starting with reliability and scalability. The appliance features dual power supplies and a RAID 6 disk array with a hot spare, for example, and users can cluster up to four 64 TB or 128 TB nodes. That supports many of Waident’s clients, which means no fork lift upgrades when someone needs more capacity.

“They can implement 20 new VMs tomorrow and start backing up to us and they’re never going to fill up their repository,” Quinn says. Performance, which can reach up to 4.0 GB/s, scales linearly every time you add a node too.

Better yet, immutability is present by default the moment you install the device. “Ootbi,” in fact, is an acronym for “out of the box immutability.” A purpose-built backup target appliance designed to integrate seamlessly with Veeam’s direct-to-object storage configuration, Ootbi supplements a factory-hardened operating system with S3 Object Lock technology to provide a “write once, ready many” repository that no one, including administrators with root access, can change.

Ootbi, moreover, was designed to do precisely one thing really well by people who appreciate the power of simplicity, so while architecting a Veeam backup environment takes effort, Quinn notes, protecting Veeam backups with Ootbi doesn’t.

“We just slot it in and point Veeam to it,” he says. “Pretty simple.” The system rarely needs attention once it’s up and running either. “We don’t have to get in and do anything for a lot of those customers,” Quinn says.

From a more pragmatic standpoint, bundling immutable backup storage with Ootbi into Veeam solutions increases the size of every Veeam deal Waident closes, while helping the company cement its reputation with clients as an IT authority rather than garden-variety reseller.

“To talk about how we have a specific platform that is integrated with Veeam and helps them protect their data with immutability strengthens the discussion,” Quinn says.

Commitment to Partners

I’ve written before about how seriously Object First takes partner relationships and its channel-only business model. That’s a commitment brought to the company by its founders, Ratmir Timashev and Andrei Baronov, who also co-founded Veeam, a vendor famous for its devoted partner community. Quinn became interested in Object First when he discovered who founded it.

“I was so happy to hear that Ratmir and Andrei were behind the company,” he says. “I knew they were going to make a solid product because they knew how to read and write Veeam. They wrote the software,” he says. They also have a proven track record of building businesses to last.

“It was not going to be something that was going to get acquired in a year, year and a half,” Quinn says.

Like Veeam, he adds, Object First is an easy vendor for partners to work with. High-quality support is readily available, and processes like registering deals and placing orders are simple and clear. “I understand what my costs are for the box and the maintenance, and what my margin is,” Quinn says.

The company is responsive to partner feedback about anything it can do better as well. “They’re really listening to us,” Quinn says.

To date, Waident has purchased and sold six Ootbi appliances in the first half of the year for internal use and for clients. Quinn foresees adding a lot more units to that early tally.

“Ootbi provides us an affordable solution that’s easy to implement and maintain, that allows us to protect our customers and our own data with immutability, and that allows me to sleep better at night,” he says. There’s nothing so unique about Waident to suggest it’s the only Veeam partner out there that can increase deal size, impress customers, and better protect data with Ootbi’s help. The best way to find out if you’re another one is to contact Object First.

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