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Lenovo is making EMC’s Mozy backup-to-the-cloud service available to ThinkPad SL buyers with a trial offer of unlimited online backup for $49.

The deal is only available in a few countries: Ireland, UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, USA and Canada. But the service will soon be offered on a worldwide basis for all Lenovo Think- branded systems - R Series, T Series, X Series, X Series Tablet, W Series - as well as the SL Series.

The geographic restriction seems to be due to EMC infrastructure limitations. It doesn't have enough Mozy service data centres. One has just opened in Dublin, Ireland. It is planning more in Australia, China, Japan and Korea.

EMC bought Mozy in January by acquiring Berkeley Data Systems. The idea is that you backup your data files, not system and application files, across the Internet to a Mozy data centre and restore them from that if you lose a file or few. The first backup is full and can take days, although it’s a background activity. The subsequent ones are differential and take a lot less time.

Mozy is growing fast and doubled its customer base in the first half of the year. EMC put out gee-whiz numbers: more than 750,000 users and 20,000 business customers backing up 7.6 billion files to a 10 petabyte storage system. They're trivial, drop in the ocean stuff compared to what’s possible.

The customer acquisition business model has three aspects. Number one is to integrate with external storage providers, like in-house Iomega, for a backup 2-step, from PC to external storage to cloud. Number two is to stake out claims on notebook /desktop screen real-estate, like Lenovo, and number three is to do deals with businesses with large membership or customer bases. Thrive Networks, a Staples subsidiary, has signed a contract with Mozy to provide online backup to its and Staples’ customers. Another Mozy deal is with US lawyers: American Bar Association members have a special offer deal if they sign up for the Mozy service.

Other cloud backup providers are trying to do pretty much the same things. Nirvanix is building out its infrastructure. Carbonite has a deal with Lifeboat Distribution meaning 4,500 Lifeboat resellers will be pushing Carbonite’s online backup to their customers. Spare Backup is offering vanilla cloud backup services to PC and notebook manufacturers which are branded by the manufacturer. It’s won distribution onto Sony’s Vaio line. The Bordeaux, France-based Steek is offering its online storage and backup service to ISPs and notebook, PC and storage hardware manufacturers, portals, security software providers, and in the future, mobile device (phone) manufacturers.

Think on that. Billions of data-heavy netbook and smart phone users needing to backup their phone data. The key to getting them will be deals with mobile device suppliers and service providers. The key to that is a global and rock solid infrastructure that just works - all the time.

You can bet that Google, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace, Symantec and everyone else with global cloud storage service ambitions is working out how to get a piece of this business.

Cloud backup services have to be anchored to the ground with a world-wide set of inter-linked data centres. It's a multi-billion dollar-plus build out race.

If EMC can build and operate its cloud backup data centres and Mozy can cosy up to mobile phone manufacturers and service providers before the others then the rain of dollars into Hopkinton’s lap will make Hurricane Gustav look like just another shower ®

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