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New Unitrends appliances provide pocket-sized data protection

Unitrends gives SMBs and managed service providers local backup and recovery with its Ion appliance line. It also unveiled its Cyber Assurance Program for employee training.

Unitrends, a data backup vendor, launched its Ion and Ion+ on Wednesday, bringing data protection appliances small enough to fit on a desk to managed service providers and SMBs.

The Ion appliances add to Unitrends' backup and recovery lineup, which includes the Recovery Series and Recovery Series Max. The Ion line offers the same services as its rackmount appliances -- such as Unitrends disaster recovery as a service and Unitrends Forever Cloud, its immutable off-site storage -- but does so in a small footprint.

Unitrends, owned by Kaseya and headquartered in Burlington, Mass., also unveiled its Cyber Assurance Program on Wednesday. The program is designed to educate users on best practices to combat ransomware and better protect data. Both the Ion appliances and the Cyber Assurance Program are geared toward smaller businesses as a direct response to the growing threat, according to Christophe Bertrand, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), a division of TechTarget.

The biggest threat organizations face today is ransomware, which is changing the nature of traditional recovery and disaster recovery, he said.

"It is the gift that keeps on taking," Bertrand said.

Meeting a local need

Workers in smaller office spaces, which today includes the home office, want some form of local data protection, according to Joe Noonan, general manager at Unitrends. But adding a rackmount device isn't always practical, given the space limitations, the general upkeep associated with larger devices and the noise they generate, he said.

"[Unitrends] gave [smaller offices] cloud recovery, but a lot of them still wanted to recover locally," Noonan said, adding that the Ion appliances were driven by customer demand. "If you have your own local recovery infrastructure, we can recover fast into the infrastructure."

Ion appliances give managed service providers and SMBs the same recovery abilities as the larger Recovery Series, using the same software as the Recovery Series and integrating with the vendor's cloud features.

Ion is a next unit of computing form factor. It's a 4 x 4" basic PC, with up to 1 TB of NVMe storage and up to 8 GB of RAM; it also comes with a 4-core processor and a single Ethernet port. The Ion+ is bigger in size with its small desktop tower form factor; it comes with up to 8TB of hard disk drive (HDD) storage, 8 GB to 32 GB of RAM, a 16-core processor and dual Ethernet ports, according to Unitrends. Customers should choose the Ion product based on capacity needs, Noonan said.

Unitrends Ion appliance line.
The new Unitrends Ion and Ion+ appliances.

ESG's Bertrand said the Ion line is like a first line of defense for quick, local backup and recovery while providing access to Unitrends' software and cloud capabilities.

Ion is also simplified in use and deployment, he added.

"You can literally plug it in, turn it on -- and it is going to start," Bertrand said. "There is probably some minimal configuration to get it started, but it is all integrated [with Unitrends' products]."

The appliance may provide better security for a remote workforce than a VPN alone. Its size, however, limits its capacity, Bertrand said, adding that it is not designed to back up several servers.

Better data protection starts with education

The Cyber Assurance Program trains and certifies users on best practices for data protection and ransomware resilience. The program is a premium service and includes a ticket to Connect IT, Kaseya's annual conference, and access to a backup monitoring and maintenance automation service called Helix, according to Unitrends.

The Cyber Assurance program provides expertise in onboarding and employee training, helping organizations keep up to date, Bertrand said.

"The more [customers and users] know about the products, the more likely they will be successful and recover [in the case of a breach]," he said.

Both Ion appliances and the Cyber Assurance Program are available now; prices were not publicly disclosed.

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