Cobalt Iron: Product Overview and Insight

eWEEK PRODUCT/SERVICE ANALYSIS: Cobalt Iron describes itself as the “global leader” in SaaS-based enterprise data protection, although there is quite a bit of competition in this international sector.


Today: Cobalt Iron (enterprise data protection, analytics, automation)

Company description: Cobalt Iron describes itself as the “global leader” in SaaS-based enterprise data protection, although there is quite a bit of competition in this international sector. Through analytics and automation, Compass from Cobalt Iron enables enterprises to transform and optimize legacy backup solutions into a simple cloud-based architecture.

Processing more than 7 million jobs a month for customers in 44 countries, Cobalt Iron delivers modern enterprise data protection for enterprise customers. Cobalt Iron reduces overall capital expenses by more than 50 percent while eliminating backup failures and inefficiencies.

At the same time, Cobalt says its platform allows for users to easily observe and manage backup and protection processes from a single, easy-to-understand interface. This means users no longer have to switch between several software offerings just to see what their data is doing. This has helped Cobalt customers to reduce complexity and increase productivity by over 80%, the company claims.

Headquarters: Lawrence, Kansas, USA
CEO: Richard Spurlock, founder
IPO status: privately held
Founded: 2013

Products and Services

Cobalt Iron Compass SaaS Backup Platform: This was built from the ground up with multitenancy and extensive automation in mind. This gives BaaS service providers the following capabilities:

  • sets up multiple users with different access privileges
  • assigns different pricing methodologies to different systems
  • customizes reporting and management with company logos
  • integrates with existing accounting and service ticketing systems for automated billing

Compass’ comprehensive multitenancy capabilities support complex organizational dynamics across an ecosystem of service providers, partners, customers and their internal organizations, and distributors. Support includes management, monitoring, visibility, chargeback, reporting, and resource utilization by organization.

Other distinguishing features of Compass for service providers are:

  • Cyber Shield, Cobalt Iron’s built-in cybersecurity for Compass, which provides deep authentication control and data custody discipline.
  • Extensive automation and analytics, which drastically reduce manual intervention and deliver a higher level of service.
  • Enterprise and cloud-mature backup with on-premises or cross-cloud delivery options that handle even the largest and most demanding enterprise workloads across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud.
  • Flexible service branding that allows service providers and customers to brand their backup services as their own.

Compass Architecture: Born in the cloud, the Compass Architecture is designed to take full advantage of progressive technologies such as analytics, SaaS, multi-cloud, and virtualization. The Commander is an easy-to-use web dashboard providing a simple and intuitive user experience, while the Analytics Engine delivers the flexibility and insight required for today’s enterprise data protection. The Accelerator is a converged, integrated, and scalable enterprise class data protection system that is constantly maintained and updated, ensuring that data protection is ready to support new technology investments. In concert, these elements deliver a powerful and disruptive data protection solution.

Cobalt Iron Accelerator: This is a converged, integrated and scalable family of turnkey enterprise class data protection systems. From public cloud and virtual systems protection to petabyte scale data center workloads, the company claims this family of certified platforms delivers a SaaS-powered, fully automated data protection solution managing 100% of data protection requirements with no headaches for administrative and operations teams.

Insight and Analysis

Doug French, General Manager, BancLine Core Banking Solution, in a testimonial: “By working with Cobalt Iron, we now have accurate visibility into our data backup process. Tape isn’t always 100%. With the Cobalt Iron solution, we are able to easily validate the backup, giving us the confidence that our data will be available when and where we need it.”

FIS Global Case study: FIS Global is the world’s largest banking and payments technologies provider. With a long history deeply rooted in the financial services sector, FIS serves more than 14,000 institutions in more than 100 countries. FIS holds leadership positions in payment processing and banking solutions, providing software, services and outsourcing of the technology that drives financial institutions.  

FIS itself, like many large organizations, relied on an aging generation of backup and recovery methods. This included magnetic tapes to store data at off-site locations. Data volumes and business demands presented significant issues with the existing generation of solutions. Recovery time windows continued to shrink and the physical time required to retrieve data from tapes exceeded critical recovery targets. FIS needed a new generation solution.

They needed to streamline processes to protect customer information, meet regulatory compliance requirements, and ensure that data would be available when and where it was needed. Old-generation data backup and recovery had reached its useful life, and FIS need a set of completely new approaches to address the growth of data volumes and the integrity of client data protection.

Solution selected by FIS Global: The Cobalt Iron Private Cloud solution, accelerated with two CI Accelerators

This was deployed for FIS. Data is now stored on two sites, meeting compliance and protection standards. The elimination of tape has significantly improved backup times, reduced staff management requirements, and encouraged the use of automated processes. Now, FIS enjoys the use of automated digital reporting that self-generates daily.

Each morning after finishing the complete environment backup, FIS runs a total system restore to the disaster recovery site in Little Rock, Ark. Each morning, this financial managed service provider (MSP) has fully validated its DR readiness. The Cobalt Iron solution has reduced restore times by 92%. Restoring FIS customer data is now possible within minutes–a remarkable improvement compared to the 24-hour window previously required. Now, during a DR event, the total time to bring all banks back on-line is less than four hours, a process that would not have been possible with the prior generation backup products.

The Cobalt Iron solution has also allowed FIS to cut 89% of its off-site storage costs by eliminating tape from the backup process. IT staff has eliminated some 80+ hours per year that has been allocated to other critical projects. Costs for tape media alone has yielded an additional $12,000 annually in hard cost savings. Additionally, the Cobalt Iron solution has allowed the IT team to exceed compliance requirements and reduce on-going audit preparation time by more than 10 percent.

Beyond time and cost savings, the new-generation Cobalt Iron solution has enabled the FIS IT staff to focus on service and innovation in other areas of the business. Cobalt Iron has restored confidence in all levels of management that the data is safe and can easily and quickly be restored.

When a customer asks about the availability of their data, they are invited to visit the data center and see the data ready and waiting on the DR site. Backup has actually become a competitive asset in their portfolio of services, Cobalt said.

TRICUE Case Study: TRICUE is a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO) that provides complete data processing solutions to partner and member credit unions throughout the Rocky Mountain states area. The organization delivers a number of services to credit unions, including backup, disaster recovery (DR), and restoration to support the information technology needs of their clients.

TRICUE needed to employ a smarter backup and recovery management service to support their customers’ growing data storage requirements.

Highlights of results following the Cobalt Iron installation: Backup times reduced from hours to minutes; 96% improved operational efficiency; data storage reduced by 67%.

Other Information about Cobalt Iron

List of current customers: FIS Global, TRICUE, Capital City Bank, Hutchinson Regional Medical Center

Other key players in the DR-as-a-service market:  Druva, Zerto, Informatica, Carbonite, CommVault

Delivery: subscription software as a service (SaaS)

Pricing: Cobalt Iron uses a SaaS-based, pay as you grow model. This means it won’t over-charge with pricing packages. Instead, the company only bills you for the exact amount of data you need backed up and protected. This allows Cobalt to easily scale with a business while simultaneously cutting data storage and backup costs by 50% or more.

Contact information for potential customers:  (888) 584-4766

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...