Zmanda is the only company that provides open source software for enterprise class data protection. Typically the data protection/backup market has been dominated by giants such as Symantec and EMC. Zmanda aims to bring a business ready stack of software based on the Amanda open source data recovery technology coupled with service subscriptions.
Amanda is am acronym for the Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, which is data backup system that enables LAN administrators to set up single master backup servers for multiple hosts using large tape drives. Originally intended to back up UNIX based workstations, with recent versions the same can be accomplished using SAMBA. Amanda was created at the University of Maryland's Computer Science department by James da Silva during his time there and continued by Blair Zajac.
Amanda is the leading open source backup/data protection project and offers a great deal of functionality totally separate from any Zmanda offerings. Version 2.5.0p1 was actually released today and includes security/authentication provisions, compression support and enhanced dump functionality. In and of itself Amanda is an impressive offering that can and has been deployed in enterprise environments. Dedicated support, training and professional services offered by Zmanda only sweetens the deal.
Zmanda plans to enable the use of Amanda within large scale enterprise deployments by providing additional software, services and support as a packaged solution. Taken from their website:
"Our solutions focus on openness, simplicity and security, which results in tremendous benefits for our customers. In addition, our strong partnerships with various open source projects strengthen our ability to add functionality and provide the top-notch support expected by enterprise customers."
Zmanda looks to provide enterprises with the level of reliability expected from software that essentially protects the critical data that is the lifeblood of their organizations. By covering for efforts that are typically need to prepare open source software for use within business critical environments (implementation, customization, compliance, etc.), Zmanda has the opportunity to grab a share of the backup/data protection market that want a more cost effective option that what is provided by closed source vendors.
This is a market almost perfectly ripe for an open source solution. Even with the increased effort made towards making data protection software more affordable for the non-Fortune 500 companies by vendors, prices have yet to fully come down to earth. Customers have mostly become accustomed to paying top notch dollar for this type of software because of the false perception that you have to do so in order to get reliable, scalable performance and protection. IF Zmanda can provide a viable alternate, prices will have no choice but come down, opening the door for commoditization. Which in my opinion is a good thing for all players in the market.
I haven't had the opportunity to communicate with anyone from Zmanda about the details of their product or their business model, so I can't speak in very much technical detail (accurately, at least). However, I can say that any value Zmanda can add to what Amanda has already established should be a good thing.