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Jakob Østergaard, CTO, Keepit: Backup-as-a-Service is important and a key tool

May 2024 by Valentin Jangwa, Global Security Mag

Jakob Østergaard, CTO, Keepit, met online along with A3 Communications, explains Keepit’s technologies and growth strategies.

Global Security Mag: Thank you for your time. Could you please, introduce yourself, and tell us about your journey at Keepit?

Jakob Østergaard: I have been working with the CEO since 1998. We lived in the same dormitory at school while studying engineering. I have a M.Sc. in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. I have worked with software development since 1998. My early career started on massively parallel supercomputers but soon transitioned to more reasonably sized equipment. I have played a key role in the design and implementation of several cross-platform network software systems, and I am the principal designer of the object storage system that underlies the Keepit business. Now I lead the development, operations, and security organizations of the company. I still write code. The CEO and I have been working together in various business ventures like Managed Services, Web hosting, colocation hosting, and we have run our own pure software company.

Global Security Mag: Can you tell us more about Keepit, its technologies and Growth, especially regarding what is new?

Jakob Østergaard: In 2008, we started Keepit offering a Cloud service for customers’ device backup (computers and laptops). Everyone knows someone who lost the wedding photos as an example, and we wanted to solve that challenge. It turned out it was not the right moment or maybe not the right idea (even if many people thought it was), as nobody wanted to pay a subscription fee for that kind of service. We were using tape storage at that time. We could see the idea with the Cloud, but we wanted it to be instant so that you would never have to wait for anything, and that could not be done by tape storage. So, all these factors let us to restart all Keepit idea. We decided, starting completely from scratch with a new backend to build our own optic storage for the purpose of storing backup data and for being able to provide the instant experience where you can browse your historical data live. We also went to Cloud-to-Cloud backup BtoB market at the same time, not backing up devices (computers or laptops) but Cloud services, since everyone was moving from running their own e-mail servers and backups to having their e-mail servers in the Cloud and having no backups. So that is still what we sell today to customers, briefly offering them proper independent backup of the services that they are moving to the Cloud.

Global Security Mag: Can you summarize the key Keepit’s differentiators?

Jakob Østergaard: Where we are different from other vendors, is first that we came from hosting services, so we are not foreign to the idea of running our own services. When you want to run backup of some services, you want to make sure that your backup data is not stored at the same place that your primary data. So, everyone was used to that when running their own e-mail servers and backup servers, having them in separate rooms and media. If someone wishes to backup Microsoft 365, there is a need to make sure that the backup base is not stored in Azure AD (now Entra ID) because that is the infrastructure where Microsoft 365 runs on. If you want to backup Salesforce, you need to avoid doing it in AWS, same thing regarding Google Suite and Google Workspace, and so on. If you have a handful of Cloud services, it becomes very difficult to find out where you can store the backup data and tracking them. That is why we chose not to go Public Cloud and chose to run our own infrastructure to absolutely guarantee customers that the backup data is separate from where the primary data is. Keepit is unique doing so, in the market. That is also giving us several benefits, for example in GDPR terms, we have no SOC processes, we own the servers, we brought the software, we run the servers, we update the software, we own our infrastructure, so we are masters in our own house. We do run 7 regions around the World for data sovereignty reasons (Copenhagen, London, Frankfurt, and so on). When customers chose a region, that region does not talk to another region, so you can be sure that your data remains there until your decision as a customer to change the region. Each region consists of 2 separate data centers with some distance running in active / active mode, so that all your data is replicated between the 2 data centers, and you even don’t notice where the computing is being done. As a vendor, we could lose a full site, and everything would still operate for the customers in that region.
When it comes to sovereignty, Keepit is also in Sydney, Toronto, and Washington DC, and we will be adding more regions based on market demands, probably in Southern America and other places. When we started, GDPR was not e reality, but we knew it was coming, and that influenced our regions strategy to consider some customers specificities. As an example, most of German customers could be allowed to use the Copenhagen data centers under the GDPR, but we had to open the Frankfurt region, as for them, EU is fine, but Germany is better. And we see the same mindset in other regions.

Global Security Mag: What is your Go to Market strategy?

Jakob Østergaard: Today, 90% of Microsoft 365 have no backup, which is unbelievable. It means that we need to go out there addressing that enormous market. Very often, we don’t even need to displace a competitor, because people have nothing as a backup solution, and they have an obligation by law to have a backup solution in place. So we are going to the market to let people know that Keepit exists and has a compelling offering. Since we started Microsoft 365, we are leading in that market as we have a great coverage and performance. We also support other SaaS solutions like Power Platform, Zendesk, Salesforce, or Google Workspace. As a company, we want to move much broader. Based on some numbers, if you have a company around 1000 to 2000 employees, you use an average of 200 different Cloud services, and people have not realized that they don’t have backup for those.
So based on the Law’s requirements like GDPR, backup is mandatory. For that purpose, Keepit is positioning itself as a Cloud protection platform offer aiming to cover around 90% of those 200 workloads. We are working on some technologies that allow us to add support much more rapidly for your workloads.
We do have direct customers as in the beginning we were few people. Due to the tremendous growth of the company, we have adjusted our Go to Market over the years. Now we do most of our business through partners which works the best for us to approach as much as possible prospects as we don’t have yet the name recognition. Also, the customers already using partners for other solutions, tend to trust them for Keepit as well. We engage our people (Engineers and Sales) to help our partners on difficult cases.

Global Security Mag: What is your growth year to year, and your annual revenue?

Jakob Østergaard: From 2016 where Keepit had 15 people to now with more than 350 peoples, we have been doubling and tripling year over year both in terms of people and revenue. Last year, we had around 60 percent growth. Our pricing model is based on the number of our customers employees. In September 2020, we went to A round investment with $30 million using that to scale and conquer the global Backup-as-a-Service market, having a great product, reaching more market and for R&D as well. Keepit is cash flow positive.
We will probably have a B round at some point, but we are not burning through the venture money to sustain the company right now, we are doing just fine on that front.

Global Security Mag: Do you see Keepit going Public (IPO) by 5 years?

Jakob Østergaard: That is a very good question. I do not have a position on that, and I don’t know. I am not the right person to answer that. But I can tell you that we are heading to the stars. The founders still have the majority shares in the company. We like to run the company the way we currently do it. We are focused on having as many as customers as possible and we still need to scale. It is difficult to answer to the IPO (Initial Public Offering) question.

Global Security Mag: What are your key messages to our readers?

Jakob Østergaard: Considering the huge amount of important data in Cloud services being used by companies and organizations, Backup-as-a-Service is important and a key tool. Keepit is a platform for Backup, simple to configure and a very friendly end-user system. It is a straightforward, efficient, simple to use tool.

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