Which Flavor of Backup and Recovery Suits Your Customers?
Several years ago, most of my trade event conversations centered around details about backup – differences between image-based and file-based solutions, how to go to market with a cloud-based solution, how to make it a seamless part of your managed services solution, and more of the same. Fast forward two years, and the questions remain the same, but the solution sets have broadened and deepened, virtualization is everywhere, and adoption of cloud solutions is growing rapidly. So, let’s run through the history of backup at a high level, for those who still have questions.
In early days of computing, internal data storage systems consisted of rotating magnetic drums, and punch cards served as both input and backup. If a system failure occurred and information was compromised, workers would have to reenter each form after technicians completed the necessary repairs. Few businesses had an offsite data storage plan, other than moving the boxes of punch cards to another location (a rare practice in the early years).
Of course, corporate life was a lot simpler before the PC and networked computing, and so was the resulting information companies created and collected. Today, most companies are bursting at the seams with data, from operational and sales figures to myriad documents and business-critical records. While government regulations and industry compliance issues were negligible in the 1950s and 1960s, present-day organizations have to address myriad rules relating to the data they maintain.
To help businesses meet those continually advancing challenges, backup solutions have gone through a number of evolutions as well. Punch cards were retired in favor of tape-to-tape, which led to disc drives and flash technologies. On the recovery side, the Internet significantly transformed how businesses protect their critical (and sometimes not so critical) information, allowing them to send copies to offsite locations anywhere in the world. That’s a lot simpler and safer than sending a duplicate tape home with the janitor every night. Of course, relying on the memory of a single employee and a bit of luck (numerous potential points of failure) for your disaster plan is a hazardous endeavor.
In 2012, businesses have a range of backup and recovery solutions to select from, and VARs and MSPs have a variety of storage technologies available to customize the perfect plan for their customers. With numerous onsite backup, cloud storage and virtualization options, today’s solution providers have more than enough tools to design and implement an effective system for every situation.
Onsite (local) storage is still a critical component of most businesses backup and recovery plans. Hard drives, CDs/DVDs, flash drives and even magnetic tapes play a role in an organization’s daily data collection processes. PCs and portable drives often serve as first line storage for small businesses and remote workers, so the vital information they contain needs to be uploaded to more secure locations (or systems) to meet compliance requirements.
Onsite networks and server-based storage programs are relatively cost-effective compared with what they were just a few years ago, and they serve as an invaluable resource, helping companies save and retrieve data on demand. When set up properly and teamed with an offsite disaster recovery solution, the combination forms a secure and robust system that ensures an organization can meet all its business and compliance objectives. Vendors offer a variety of disaster recovery options that allow providers to decide which data remains exclusively onsite and which information is copied and sent to secure data centers through the Internet.
Online (cloud) backup and recovery solutions have become the go-to method for business data disaster planning and compliance solutions, covering organizations of all sizes and industries. Of course, web-based storage protects companies from data loss major disasters such as flooding, fire, theft and serious viruses. But an even larger advantage is the ability to access and restore critical systems and data from practically anywhere.
For solution providers, cloud backup offers a variety of management and control features, including automated system alerts when scheduled processes fail, and reporting options to help customers meet their compliance validation requirements. While security is always a concern for business customers, that obstacle can be overcome easily when you partner with a vendor that offers military-grade data protection, including encryption standards that meet or exceed the toughest industry standards. Solution providers need to address all their customers’ concerns related to data protection, including how files are encoded and stored in multiple, secured facilities located at geographically diverse locations.
Virtualization is the latest focus, taking data storage and recovery beyond traditional files and folders.
This concept disguises the actual complexity of a multiple (often distributed) storage device library, creating pools of information that are mapped to a single address. Since the data may reside on multiple devices in a variety of locations, it makes traditional backup and recovery methods a bit complex. But virtualized backup and recovery solutions give providers the ability to administer backup, archiving and recovery processes more efficiently.
Virtualized storage was previously the realm of enterprise and media organizations, allowing them to share and store large files that couldn’t be easily or quickly shared using email or standard network connections. Those needs and capabilities are rapidly moving downmarket, especially with the increased use of video (training and marketing) and multisite collaboration.
With a growing number of businesses employing a variety of these technologies, providers need to know how to implement the right solution that addresses all their backup and recovery needs. What seems like a difficult and complicated issue for the channel to handle can really be fairly simple — with the right training and proper partner.
Ted Roller is VP of channel development Intronis, the cloud backup specialist. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual platinum sponsorship program. Read the archived Intronis guest blogs here.