– Gary Sevounts, vice president of marketing Zetta (www.zetta.net), says:

As data growth is still one of the top three challenges for organizations today, keeping the data available becomes more and more challenging, whether a user accidentally deletes a file or a hurricane takes out the entire data center. Companies such as Google have largely licked this problem. With interconnected data centers worldwide, it can afford to shut one completely down without losing data or lowering service levels. But what about those who don’t have the billions to spend on building redundant data centers? To address their offsite data backup needs, there are four major options: tape, mirroring to a DR site, colocation and online data backups.

Tape backups have been around for decades. Many companies already have the equipment, software and procedures in place for tape archiving. In those organizations where tape is working well and is not tying up IT resources, it is probably best to continue its usage. But for many, tape has drawbacks such as:

  • High cost of hardware, backup software and tape cartridges
  • The need to physically transport tapes off site
  • Slow data retrieval and restores. Both full and incremental backup tapes need to be obtained from the storage facility and loaded in the proper sequence, before a file can be restored
  • High failure rate of restores

Mirroring or Replicating to a Secondary Site
Even if a company doesn’t have multiple data centers, it can often set up servers at another of its offices to act as a backup for the primary storage system. Since the data is transferred electronically between the primary and the secondary storage disks, and since the backup copy is online rather than sitting on a tape in a vault, restoring data is much faster than when using tape backups. The secondary site can also be used to ensure business continuity during a disaster. However, this approach also means:

  • Purchasing an additional set of hardware and software
  • Installing the required power, cooling and networking at the secondary site
  • Ongoing costs for licensing and support
  • Having staff to support the secondary equipment

Backup to a Colocation Facility
Companies can lease rack space at a colocation facility and install their own backup equipment. This saves some of the costs of maintaining the infrastructure. However, it still requires:

  • Purchase of additional hardware and software
  • Ongoing costs for licensing and support
  • Costs of leasing space at the colocation facility and any additional fees for support.

Online Data Backups
With online data backups, a company pays a fee for the amount of offsite storage required. The data is automatically backed up and files can be restored over a WAN connection. Advantages include:

  • Instant retrieval and restoration of data to the same location or to a disaster recovery site
  • Reduced complexity – no need to buy or maintain hardware or software
  • Reduced backup windows
  • Scalable on demand as storage needs grow
  • No need to have staff trained in specialized skills for backup and retrieval