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10/26/2009
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George Crump
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Cloud Based Backup, Ready For Business?

Cloud based backup services have been successful in the consumer space. Companies like Mozy, Carbonite and others are protecting thousands of laptops and home desktops, but can cloud based backups services move beyond protecting consumer or prosumer data and into the data center? Are cloud based backups ready for business?

Cloud based backup services have been successful in the consumer space. Companies like Mozy, Carbonite and others are protecting thousands of laptops and home desktops, but can cloud based backups services move beyond protecting consumer or prosumer data and into the data center? Are cloud based backups ready for business?A logical starting point for many businesses is to look to these service providers to do what they already do well, laptop backup, and help solve that problem in the data center. Most of the current solutions available have a business version and companies like Backblaze are specifically focusing on the corporate laptop backup market. They are trying to add value by improving simplicity, lowering performance impact and eliminating, difficult to manage in a corporate environment, capacity based pricing. Moving into this space however also pits them against enterprise laptop protection solutions already available from companies like Symantec and Iron Mountain.

Another segment that is beginning to adopt the cloud for backups is the small to medium size business data center itself. As we discussed in our article "Cloud Models Shift to Embrace Application Protection" this backup has to move beyond backing up laptop data and on to backing up servers and their associated applications. Recovery is as important in the SMB data center as it is in the enterprise. Deduplication may make backup across the internet feasible, it does not help recovery, where all the data must be restored. Look for appliance based deployments like those from Asigra and Axcient to be popular. This allows for, at a minimum, the most recent copy of data to be stored locally and the cloud be counted on for more archive type of recoveries.

For many companies with an existing backup software solution and strategy, the simpler choice may be to extend the solution to backup to the cloud. Companies like Symantec and Atempo are adding extensions to their current software that allow data to be pushed to the cloud for DR purposes or to use cloud storage as an archive.

One of the justifications for deduplication is to use its ability to optimize WAN bandwidth and replicate or EVault backup data to a disaster recovery site. Data Domain for example reports that over 60% of its customers are using their solution for this purpose. There are two roadblocks to leveraging these capabilities. First you need to make sure everything is integrated correctly and set to optimize the WAN bandwidth you have and second you need to have a viable second site to send the data.

The next wave of providers that leverage the internet are set to address this challenge. Recovery Service Providers like Simply Continuous can provide the ability to be the hosting site for your target deduplication appliance as well as help with the consulting and configuration required to make sure that your data is getting to the target location in optimal fashion.

The next step is for the large enterprise to leverage cloud based backup, something we will discuss in a future entry.

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

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