Is an online backup service OK for your data stockpiles?

Is an online backup service OK for your data stockpiles?

Online data backups and e-mail archiving finally turning the storage-as-a-service dream into a business reality

Storage-as-a-service buy-in

Almost half of storage-as-a-service users are in the small-to-midsize-business market - such organizations as the University of Pittsburgh's GSPH that do not want to extend their IT resources with a backup infrastructure. Larger enterprises are adopting storage-as-a-service, too, to protect data on laptop and desktop computers, IDC reports.

Storage-as-a-service appeals particularly to enterprises that need to replace or supplement faulty tape infrastructures with more reliable backup and protection technologies.

Such a need is what drew Joe Gillis, MIS manager for The Beal Companies, a real-estate management firm in Boston, to online data backup services. In the past, he would run a traditional grandfather-father-son backup rotation with daily, weekly and monthly tapes. Once a month, he'd ship the tapes off-site. "Depending on when a disaster occurred, my data could be as much as a month out of date," he says. "With the off-site archiving, you don't face that problem."

An early storage-as-a-service user, Gillis added in the AmeriVault-AV online service for remote data backups and e-mail archiving almost five years ago. "Not having to take tape home or ship it to an archiving site data protection is the primary advantage of using a storage service," he says.

For extra protection, Gillis runs backups locally, too. "To be honest, though, the restoration process from the vault is so quick and simple, there is really no advantage to having a local copy, except if the Internet happens to be down," he says.

American Warehouses also has complemented tape with online data backup service. The logistics-services provider in Houston learned its lesson the hard way. After a hardware failure on one of its HP servers, the company was down for two weeks recovering the data.

"The tape drive had failed for the previous four days and had not sent us a notification to say that it was not getting a good backup," says Tony Carter, CEO of American Warehouses. "One of the applications on our server . . . hosts a warehouse-management system that is the spinal cord of our operations."

Following the failure, Carter turned to online data-backup services from Terian Solutions, a reseller of Asigra's Televaulting software, to protect mission-critical applications. He's been using the services for almost two years. Downtime of any sort can't be tolerated any longer.

"If we are down for two weeks anymore, we are out of business," Carter says. That would be a pretty sad ending for a 50-year-old company.

Connor is principal at Storage Strategies Now. She can be reached at

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