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Carbonite brings business continuity to the SMB: An interview with CEO Mohamad Ali

April 29, 2015

Carbonite has grown quite a bit since its founding over a decade ago. After getting started as a consumer-focused cloud backup company, Carbonite has now expanded to become the go-to provider of comprehensive business continuity solutions for small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs).

I caught up with Mohamad Ali, Carbonite’s President and CEO, to learn more about Carbonite’s strategy and plans for the future. Ali explained why Carbonite is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of SMBs and offered some examples of SMB customers that are benefiting from Carbonite products today. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Why does Carbonite see an opportunity to become the leader in business continuity solutions for SMBs?
Mohamad Ali: 
Research firm IDC recently conducted a survey of over 700 SMBs worldwide and found that 35% do not have a business continuity solution in place at all today. About 65% of SMBs still back up files on premises to tape or disk. And only 30% of SMBs are currently using a cloud backup solution. Also, keep in mind that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that half of the US small businesses that experience a disaster fail to reopen their doors and subsequently go out of business. This is an astonishing number, suggesting that many do not have business continuity solutions in place. The point is that when it comes to business continuity, SMBs are an under-served market. They require consumer-simple solutions that are also powerful at disruptive price points. Carbonite has the technology and the know-how to serve this segment of the market.

Carbonite began its life by focusing on the consumer space. Does that heritage give Carbonite an advantage when it comes to serving the business continuity needs of SMBs?
Ali: 
You have to come from the consumer space to make it simple, but you also need the technology to deliver the powerful features. We have both. Consumer competitors don’t have the technology to challenge us here. And enterprise competitors don’t have the simplicity to move down into this market. It’s ours for the taking. This is why we are expanding our company from consumer alone to consumer and SMB. What does it take to provide a solution for this market? Powerful products to meet their needs. Yet, consumer-simple. And price disruptive. Our Carbonite Server Backup product has these qualities.

What are the key differences between serving the consumer market and the SMB market?
Ali: 
As we move up our product stack from consumer to SMB products, our customers become more sophisticated in terms of their technological needs. They require faster recovery times for their mission critical applications, reasonable recovery for second and third tier workloads and, in an increasingly regulatory and compliance heavy environment, easily searchable archiving and data retention products. SMBs need business continuity solutions that fit their budget, offer enterprise-grade features, reduce complexity and can be deployed in both hybrid and public cloud environments. Carbonite offers all of this and as a result, we have tremendous potential to become the leader in the SMB business continuity market.

As you mentioned, FEMA reports that half of US small businesses fail to reopen following a disaster. Could you provide an example of a small business that experienced a disaster but was able to stay in business thanks to Carbonite?
Ali:
 I’ll give you two examples. Advanced Nutraceuticals is a small business that makes a natural food supplement. When Hurricane Sandy struck, the owners of the company, Bob and Kamila, decided to protect their computer equipment by elevating it four feet above ground in their office. When the flood came, it reached seven feet, destroying the equipment despite their attempts to save it. A few days later, they set up a new office in a new building, and were able to immediately recover all their data using Carbonite. Keep in mind, however, that catastrophic data loss does not always have to be the result of a natural disaster. It could also occur because of simple errors. For example, the founder of Rose City Urgent Care had someone accidentally delete a large amount of critical data. Because he had Carbonite, he was able to recover and continue his business operations.

Carbonite had its Q1 earnings call this week and announced record revenue and growth. Why is the company growing so fast?
Ali:
 Our performance this quarter was primarily due to the outstanding growth we saw in SMB bookings driven by the strength of Carbonite Server Backup. The results clearly indicate there is a need for business continuity solutions designed specifically for SMBs that are powerful but consumer-simple at disruptive price-points. Carbonite is one of the very few companies able to meet the specific needs of the extremely large but underserved SMB market.

Learn more about Carbonite solutions for small businesses.

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