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Data erasure software makes channel inroads

Data erasure, which may be sold as a software product or as a service, is a security-oriented offering channel partners can present to their clients.

Data erasure software is a niche market in the sprawling cybersecurity space, but one with growth potential for channel partners.

Products in the data erasure category eradicate data from a range of gear, from mobile devices to data center servers. After erasure, the hardware may be disposed of or reused. The current regulatory environment provides one market driver. Article 17 of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, for example, codifies the individual's right to the erasure of personal data. The California Consumer Privacy Act, which goes into effect next year, also includes an erasure right. The breach risk of data at rest, which includes the issue of data remanence in cloud computing, also fuels interest in data erasure.

Transparency Market Research forecast the data erasure solutions market to grow at a 19.6% annual pace through 2026, when the company predicted the sector will reach $5.2 billion in sales globally. The market research firm pegged the 2017 market at $1.1 billion, with $433 million of that total coming from North America.

Channel takes notice

Channel companies are beginning to take notice of data erasure software and services as a business opportunity. Bayside Solutions Inc., a St. Petersburg, Fla., cybersecurity services company, began offering data erasure as a service about a year ago. The company partners with Blancco Technology Group, a data erasure software and mobile device diagnostics company.

Bayside Solutions offers data erasure alongside its other security offerings, which include penetration testing, vulnerability assessment and managed security operations center services. The company focuses on large government entities and commercial enterprises in industries such as manufacturing, retail and healthcare. The latter vertical has proven the key market thus far.

We are seeing a niche in the healthcare sector for data erasure.
Dan Doylefounder and CEO, Bayside Solutions

"We are seeing a niche in the healthcare sector for data erasure," said Dan Doyle, founder and CEO at Bayside.

Doyle said Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements around personally identifiable information contribute to healthcare customers' interest in data erasure. He said Blancco's technology enables his firm to erase data from desktops, laptops, servers, storage arrays and mobile devices -- "the broad spectrum of hardware devices that are within an organization's infrastructure."

Doyle expects to grow his data erasure business in 2019. Bayside and Blancco worked together on a marketing plan that aims to move Bayside's erasure services into additional vertical markets.

Modes of selling data erasure

Christina Walker, global director of channel sales and programs, BlanccoChristina Walker

Christina Walker, global director of channel sales and programs at Blancco, joined the company four years ago to launch a channel initiative. The company historically focused on selling its technology to IT asset disposition vendors, but the channel has enabled Blancco to expand into data centers and the enterprise market. Today, 46% of the company's data center and enterprise revenue comes through partners.

Blancco's first channel step was to cultivate relationships with distributors and value-added resellers (VARs). Those companies sell Blancco's data erasure software to end-user organizations. Ingram Micro Inc. represents the company's products in North America, while Arrow Electronics serves EMEA. Blancco is working with Ingram on a contract in Australia.

The company has also launched a program for managed service providers (MSPs). The Service Provider program supports the data erasure-as-a-service model in which an MSP uses Blancco's software to provide data erasure at the customer's site or remotely. Companies such as Bayside are taking this approach.

Selling software or providing a service isn't the only difference in how partners deliver data erasure. To wit, some sell data erasure as a stand-alone offering, while others integrate data erasure as part of a broader solution.

Data erasure at a glance

What is it?

A software or service that erases data from a range of devices, from phones to servers.

Who's in the market?

Transparency Market Research identified Blancco, Certus Software, ITRenew, Kroll Ontrack, MTI Technology, Stellar Information Technology and WhiteCanyon Software as players in the data erasure solutions market.

Who is buying?

IT asset disposition vendors, data centers and enterprises in verticals such as financial services and healthcare.

What's the channel's role?

VARs can sell data erasure software to customers, and MSPs can offer data erasure as a service.

Bayside, for instance, supplies data erasure as an independent offering. "This has not been one of the services that we have bundled up just yet," Doyle said, adding that he isn't opposed to doing so in the future.

Walker said smaller MSPs typically offer data erasure as a secondary service that provides an additional revenue stream. She has also seen MSPs that sell hardware and bundle data erasure into the service model. Other MSPs include data erasure as part of their annual or monthly fees, raising those fees slightly to accommodate the erasure service, she added.

Channel partners may also use data erasure as a way to bolster professional services, which can enhance profitability. Walker said Blancco gives partners the space to provide such services.

"We are not going to invest in being a professional services organization," Walker said.

Market drivers

Channel partners can expect to see a growing market for data erasure software and services. Financial services, IT, telecom, government, media and entertainment are industry sectors already widely using data erasure solutions, according to Transparency Market Research.

"Therefore, the data erasure solutions market is expected to expand at a rapid pace in the coming years," the company noted.

Transparency Market Research also cited the increased use of cloud infrastructure as a factor driving demand for data erasure.

Doyle said cloud adoption is indeed a factor contributing to the current interest in data erasure. Cloud-to-cloud migrations, for example, could result in a customer's data lingering on the original cloud provider's hardware, creating the risk of exposure.

"The original cloud provider needs to ensure that [customer] data is going to be destroyed," Doyle said.

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