Small-office and home-office workers have traditionally been the mainstays of the online-backup sector. The typical individual user has only a few gigabytes of common data types to store, an always-on Internet connection and few document-management needs.
But now, online-backup services are poised for a corporate growth spurt, according to an IDC (International Data Corp.) research report released in January. IDC projects the market for online-backup services will grow to $715 million by 2011, up from $235 million in 2007.
IT managers, facing an explosion of data, are preparing to take online-backup options as seriously as traditional off-site disaster-recovery and regulatory-compliance backup and retention options. The challenge for service providers is to show that online backup is secure and will not adversely impact other network operations.
Online-backup services share several common traits. They use the Internet to transport data to remote storage facilities. They offer automatic backup during a PC's idle clock cycles or scheduled backup during nonoperational hours. Administrators can tailor backup schemes to each PC served. Disaster-recovery and backup restorations are performed via the Internet, too.
Where online-backup services differ is in the details of pricing, speed and off-site storage enhancements. The best online-backup services transport only the portions of data that have changed or been created since the last backup, conserving bandwidth. They also feature bandwidth throttling to prevent the backup transmission from consuming all of your bandwidth. Pricing is often published and straightforward for simple backup services, but it must be obtained from sales reps when disaster recovery and other enhanced document-management services are desired.
The entry of major storage vendors into the online-backup market is one assurance that IT managers welcome. In the past 12 months, EMC Corp. acquired start-up Berkeley Data Systems and its Mozy online-backup service; IBM Corp. took over Arsenal Digital Solutions USA Inc.; and Seagate Technology LLC acquired EVault Inc. Many customers have told IDC that they will try online backup only if it is offered by their largest storage vendors.
Microsoft Corp. is preparing its own online-backup service, and Google is reportedly readying its entry into the marketplace. It seems likely that both companies will target Web 2.0 content, where much of data growth is expected in coming years.
For corporate IT managers exploring online-backup options, here are some of the leading vendors in the field:
MozyPro: A service of start-up Berkeley Data Systems, Mozy stores data in an earthquake-hardened datacenter in Utah. Berkeley and Mozy were acquired by EMC in a $76 million deal in September 2007. It offers a base price of $3.95 per month per PC backed up, plus 50 cents per gigabyte stored per month.
Arsenal Digital Solutions USA Inc. : Founded in 1998, Arsenal Digital has long specialized in on-demand data protection for distributed data environments. It now manages over 20PB of data in 65 datacenters. Its key services include ViaRemote data protection for PCs and servers (including virtual servers running VMWare), ViaBack for hosted applications and servers and ViaManage on-site data protection. The company was acquired by IBM in December 2007 for an undisclosed sum. Pricing is available only from sales reps and resellers.
EVault Inc.: EVault acquired pioneering online backup service provider VytalNet Inc. in 2001 to become one of the leaders in differential backup services. The company provides disk-to-disk backup both online and on-site. Online backup products range from desktop PC editions to Oracle Corp. and VMware servers. EVault was acquired by Seagate Technology in January 2007 for an undisclosed sum. Pricing is available only from sales reps.
iDrive Pro: iDrive Pro is a service of Pro Softnet Corp., an ASP (application service provider) and Internet solutions provider based in Woodland Hills, Calif. The iDrive Pro for Business offering provides 50 to 500GB of storage for $9.95 to $49.95 per month.
SOS Online Backup: Starting in Australia in 2001, SOS Online Backup has expanded its backup network to the U.S., India and Europe. The company's business product is SOS for Servers. Pricing is available only from sales reps or resellers.
AmeriVault Corp.: Founded in 1998, AmeriVault specializes in online backup and off-site data life-cycle-management services. The company provides high-availability services such as continuous data protection and real-time replication, as well as optional automatic recovery in the event of data failure. Pricing is available only from sales reps or resellers.
Iron Mountain Inc.: An ASP specializing in digital-document management, Iron Mountain offers PC and server backup and recovery subscription plans. The company also offers digital-document cataloging and retrieval services in support of litigation and regulatory compliance. Pricing is available only from sales reps.
Online backup is just the beginning of a subscription-based approach to data management. Disaster recovery is a service that IT managers hope they never use. But regulatory compliance and digital-document retrieval are ongoing concerns for all companies. The right online backup partner can help. As major players enter the online-backup field, expect to see increasingly sophisticated solutions.
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