Before cloud-based computing, businesses struggled with how to back up and store their data effectively. Tech company Jungle Disk created one of the first pieces of software that gave businesses the ability to back up their data safely and securely to the Amazon Cloud. When you’re faced with using multiple external hard drives or relying on that once-a-week taped backup of your data, the ability to store data in the cloud beats having to pay for data that before, had to be stored in a physical location offsite.

Jungle Disk provides customers an online backup tool that stores its data in Amazon S3 or Rackspace Cloud Files. The basic Jungle Disk software is sold as a monthly subscription model, and the customer has the option to be billed directly by Jungle Disk for storage or billed separately through Amazon by using their own account.

What makes Jungle Disk unique from any other online backup service is that it doesn’t actually provide storage space. An intermediary service, Jungle Disk uses storage space through Rackspace and Amazon S3, using Jungle Disk’s own software platform. Jungle Disk only charges per gigabyte for the space you actually use instead charging flat monthly fees.

In January 2016, Jungle Disk became a private company headquartered in San Antonio. Its ribbon cutting ceremony is Tuesday, Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. in its 110 E. Houston office in the Rand Building.

Jungle Disk Gets its Start

Founded in 2006 in Atlanta, Ga., Jungle Disk in its first couple of years gained the attention of another larger company — Rackspace.

“We attracted attention from Rackspace as they decided to move into the cloud, so they bought Jungle Disk in 2008 to help service that need,” Jungle Disk CEO Bret Piatt said. “We differentiate ourselves by focusing on the business needs of small business owners for companies ranging from 2-250 employees typically.”

Piatt was general manager at the Rackspace cloud business unit from 2013-2016.

Jungle Disk CFO Huw Edwards joined Rackspace in 2011 and joined the corporate development and strategy team. That’s when he started asking what should Rackspace do with Jungle Disk.

Jungle Disk CEO Bret Piatt. Photo by Scott Ball.

“As Jungle Disk started to grow its market share on its own, Rackspace stopped investing in it by 2011,” Edwards said. “Once Jungle Disk had developed its own product, its own group of customers, and a website to support small business owners, that’s when it became evident it was a good time to spin off Jungle Disk on its own.”

“I came up with a plan to do just that, to create a group that would focus on Jungle Disk as a dedicated team, and it’s how ultimately, I became the GM (general manager) of Jungle Disk, from three people to a dedicated team of 10,” Huw explained.

By January 2016, the separation was complete. Jungle Disk moved into its new headquarters in the Rand Building in April, in the heart of the emerging tech corridor downtown.

“Because Rackspace evolved into serving the midmarket and its many smaller businesses, Jungle Disk played a big part in that move by providing small businesses a cost effective option for safe, secure data backup,” Huw said.

“Our customers typically spend about $40 a month (on services) while the typical large business owner at Rackspace spends $30,000 monthly,” both Huw and Piatt emphasized. This is Jungle Disk’s top differentiator — its ability to provide top-quality, yet cost effective data services for the small business owner.

“Rackspace took great care with the entire process (of selling Jungle Disk) and with the migration of Jungle Disk customers from Rackspace,” Piatt remembered. “For these small businesses, the technology Jungle Disk provides them helps them do things more efficiently so they can focus on their craft and services.”

“Technology ultimately should be easy, and should be an enabler of what you do best,” Piatt added.

Market grows in response to increase cyber attacks, ransomware

The target customers for Jungle Disk are those smaller businesses  like real estate brokers, CPAs, lawyers, and medical groups. These all possess critical data they want to safeguard for their clients.

“We provide great data cybersecurity services while taking advantage of backup services for safeguarding data,” Piatt said.

If you want to see how your small business measures up with a quick online security check, click on Jungle Disk’s shield test for your website here. Yes, do it now – you’ll get a top-level status, and can get detailed results emailed to you.

If you think your small business will not be targeted by hackers, think again.

“We’ve seen a rise in ransomware, extorting businesses for $500-1200 or more to get access to their data” Piatt said. “We’re now seeing these hackers coming back later, say in a month or so to do it again—because mitigation efforts didn’t get all of the backdoor code out, or because hackers found another exploit to get back in.”

Given how scary that prospect sounds, Jungle Disk also provides data security services in addition to cloud-based data backup.

“We have a service that does real-time protection and threat analysis, providing strong protection for small businesses,” Edwards said. Services can range from $50-130 monthly for security services—and there’s no upfront costs.”

“We (also) provide customers the ability to provide their own unique encryption key—we don’t keep a copy of it,” Piatt said. “We believe strong encryption is essential to keeping data secure.”

Piatt summed up the encryption debate between the FBI and Apple with a story about the New York City elevator key. There is a master fire service key that fits all elevators in New York City now easily available to anyone willing to spend $8 to buy a copy online.

“This is prime example of why it’s a bad idea to make decryption keys readily available,” Piatt said. “And it’s why Jungle Disk will tell businesses we will never possess a copy of your encryption key.”

Jungle Disk’s path forward

Both Piatt and Edwards stress their continuing focus on providing small businesses a good option to protect and back up their data.

“Our customers’ data is their life blood and their most important asset to protect,” Edwards said. “Our goal is to help them back up and protect their data in the most straightforward, cost effective way.”

“The internet has enabled small businesses to become more digital and transform their productivity levels,” Piatt said. “With Jungle Disk we can make that transformation a safe process.”

“A customer doesn’t need to be afraid and they don’t need to pay thousands per month for a complicated, expensive service. Security can be safe, simple, and affordable, and of high quality for small business owners,” Piatt added.

The focus for Jungle Disk will be to continue to provide an entire package of high-quality services designed for small business owners, such as the security suite and data backup, offered in an on-demand menu of monthly subscription services.

“The small business owner doesn’t have to overpay for the complexity of products and services that are built for larger businesses, services they don’t need,” Piatt said.

On Sept. 13, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m Jungle Disk and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are hosting a complimentary Lunch & Learn: Anatomy of Cyber Attacks. Tom Ervin, computer scientist for the FBI will talk about the trends in sophisticated malware attacks. There will be live demonstrations of multiple malware threats and examples of how attackers can compromise your data. The lunch and presentation will take place at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 200 East Grayson Street, in Suite 203.

RSVP here or call 210-225-0462 to reserve a spot.

Top Image: Jungle Disk CEO Bret Piatt works with Support Tech Juan Diaz in their new offices.  Photo by Scott Ball.  

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Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science and veteran affairs.