Protecting Data in Today’s Fast-Paced & Uncertain Environment

Protecting Data in Today’s Fast-Paced & Uncertain Environment

Online server data backup and recovery takes hold


By Bud Stoddard, President & CEO, AmeriVault Corp.


Data, Foundation of Today’s Business


Data is not only the foundation of businesses in all industries but remains a vital irreplaceable strategic asset.  But, this asset is threatened today more than ever, given the increasing threat of disaster resulting from the impending war and recent and potential future terrorist activities.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 93% of companies who experience a significant data loss will be out of business within 5 years.


As a result, data protection has become a critical component in an organization’s disaster recovery and business continuity plans.  Today’s disaster planning professionals are responsible for ensuring uninterrupted operation and immediate recovery of data.  Faced with increasingly narrow recovery windows and “zero tolerance” for disruption they will have no choice but to look outside the box for recovery solutions.  The ability of traditional disaster recovery and business solutions to fulfill corporate objectives in the overall business continuity scheme should be evaluated and a new methodology introduced. 


With its ability to most quickly and efficiently perform backup and recovery, online backup is responding to the demands of today’s businesses in these uncertain times.  Its no wonder a technology that used to be seen as unconventional and experimental, is quickly becoming mainstream.  IDC estimates that through 2006, rapid growth will continue in the area of remote backup.


Lawyer’s Weekly, the nation’s top source of legal information for practicing attorneys, has used online backup for years to protect their data.  “My feeling is that you’re only as good as your last backup. Our company has many remote locations without systems administrators. As a result, we really have come to depend on online backup as a means of assuring that our backups are done on a daily basis at these sites,” said Tom Bannister, Systems Manager, Lawyer’s Weekly.


Data Management Evolves


Remarkable changes in the way businesses work, are being fueled by online and other electronic processes going on 24 hours a day.  Business processes are becoming more compressed, and business activities that took days now happen within hours or minutes globally. Companies without a strong foothold in technology will be disadvantaged when facing the evolutionary trend of business changes.  Disaster recovery and business continuity planning must change to coincide with the fast-paced and highly competitive business environment and offer protection against uncontrollable looming disasters. Continuity Planners must turn to solutions that are internet-based.


The recent SQL Slammer virus was a prime example of why contingency planning must change to keep up with technology-dependent businesses.  Although SQL Slammer’s effect could have carried a more damaging payload, it brought down 13,000 ATM machines at Bank of America, making it impossible for customers to withdraw cash for an entire weekend and reportedly caused widespread damage at HP and even Microsoft itself.  The disaster recovery and business continuity planning industry was forced to take notice.


Myths About Online Backup


Whenever an innovative idea threatens to replace current solutions in day-to-day business practices, myths begin to sprout like weeds spotting your favorite golfing green. The uncomfortable reality is that many businesses today suffer from insufficient backup plans.  Data backup is critical for every company. Remember the last time you didn’t suffer from backup headaches? You can’t.


A new solution entered the market in the mid 80’s but didn’t launch until the World Wide Web phenomenon took off.  Only then did it catch the attention of IT professionals responsible for safeguarding mission-critical data.  Online backup or electronic vaulting, no matter the coined term, eliminates many typical backup headaches.  The ability to automate your backup and remove the data off-site to a secure vault with a click of a mouse button is now a reality. Online backup is the most innovative, cost-effective and reliable solution out there today. But dispelling the myths about online backup continues to be a challenge for companies offering this technology. 


Myth One:  Online backup is too expensive.


Initially it may appear that way. Compare a tape scenario for instance. Hardware, software licenses, tapes, personnel — and let us not forget basic human error, add to the cost of traditional back up procedures.  Additional costs accrue with traditional off-site courier service and tape solutions have large up-front and sometimes unexpected costs, while online backup costs are declining.  AmeriVault Corp.(TM) predicts a double-digit annual decrease in cost due to bandwidth and storage hardware pricing declines.  A small ten gigabyte user with daily backup would pay approximately $460.00 for traditional albeit partial service; while the same user would pay approximately $294.00 for complete, automated service. In addition, online backup technology utilizes a company’s existing telecom lines.  A company can better justify the 24 x 7 cost of its dedicated Internet connection.  Online backup eliminates all these traditional cost factors. With total automation, local backup and off-site protection occur simultaneously.


Myth Two: Data is not secure on the Internet.


Online backup utilizes the same technology the U.S. Government uses for its security.  Encrypted, fragmented data is sent over telecom lines — pieces of a puzzle in gibberish language.  Online backup vendors can offers clients a highly secure VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection.  This higher level of security ensures that all communication between the client and the vault is encrypted.  Online backup is actually more secure than storing unencrypted data tapes in a remote vault.


Myth Three: Online Backup can’t handle a fortune 500 company’s data.


Handling large amounts of data over relatively small bandwidth is a popular feature of online backup.  An initial backup or “seed” of the server’s data is extracted.  The Delta Processing technology then seeks out updated portions of changed files.  Only the fragmented change of data is sent to the vault.  Large-volume and highly redundant disk storage systems store the data online.  Online backup providers service businesses with a responsibility to ensure that storage space is always available, no matter what the size.  To further data integrity, reliability and recovery, the massive amounts of data online are backed up to tape on a daily basis, and shipped to an underground vault for safekeeping.


An Inevitable Evolution


Despite the current myths surrounding online backup, unavoidably it is fast becoming the standard in the business of data backup storage.  Online backup has proven itself to be a fundamental component of disaster recovery and business continuity plans.  Traditional recovery solutions must be retailored to accommodate the new recovery and continuity alternatives available to businesses in this fast-paced and uncertain climate.  No longer can businesses rely on protecting their most important asset with inefficient methods.


Loss of data and disasters are inevitable, and so is online backup. The Internet has radically altered the global economy, and with it, the management of securing and restoring data.  Companies who wait until disaster strikes to implement more efficient means of backing up their valuable data, will become extinct like the dinosaurs who once roamed our planet.