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SMB data backup solutions

Data backup expert Pierre Dorion answers a SearchDataBackup reader's questions about providing a data backup solution for SMBs.

I'm looking to devise a solution for small offices in which we have the following:

Everything I see that offers all (or most of) the above options is designed for the larger enterprises and the cost outlay for small businesses would be too great. Are there hardware/software solutions available that provide all of these benefits for small businesses?

It's always a challenge to provide enterprise-class data protection at a small to medium-sized business (SMB) price point. Without really knowing much about your environment, which technology options you have already researched and what you consider too great a cost, only high-level ideas can be suggested.

The first recommendation would be to engage a consulting firm that has experience in designing data protection infrastructures and solutions. Allocating some of your IT budget to obtaining expert advice can save your organization a lot of money and headaches in the long run. That said, obtaining all the desired functionality from one product at entry-level pricing isn't currently possible. NetApp probably comes closest when it comes to offering all the functionality outlined in your question, but a hardware-based solution may not be very cost effective for very small amounts of data at remote offices (i.e., 50 GB).

One technology option worth considering for branch offices is EMC Corp. Avamar. This would provide onsite disk-based backups, data deduplication, the ability to replicate the branch offices back to your data center using a data store and benefit from global deduplication at that location. Symantec's Veritas NetBackup PureDisk also offers similar functionality.

As far as the CDP and snapshot capabilities are concerned, with a little creativity, this can be achieved by leveraging something like Microsoft VSS (snapshots), which you may already have and then back up your data to a deduplication-capable solution as mentioned above. CDP can be achieved with a number of products such as those from Atempo Inc., BakBone Software Inc., Double-Take Sofware Inc., Neverfail Ltd., etc., and once again, data can be stored on or backed up to a deduplication-capable solution.

Finally, it can be assumed that not all the functionality described in your query will be applied to all data within your environment, so an initial data categorization exercise is probably needed. You may also quickly find that there is overlap between the different features and end up narrowing your choice of data protection options, which will then allow you more product selection flexibility.

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