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Online backup product roundup

Online services for storage management are growing more popular, especially when it comes to backup and recovery. Find out who's who in this rapidly evolving market.

Managed services offerings for data storage are have proliferated across several markets over the last year or so, and one of the most crowded and popular markets for storage and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings is in backup and recovery.

"Backup isn't strategic to anybody," said Stephanie Balaouras, principal analyst with Forrester Research. As data growth puts a strain on IT resources, processes that don't add strategic value by making the organization more competitive or efficient are going to be something more and more companies look to reduce or eliminate in terms of management time and capital acquisition costs.

However, online backup remains an emerging market, and at this stage of the game, online backup services aren't for everybody. Companies using online services tend to be small and midsized businesses, according to Balaouras, because they tend to have small budgets and limited IT staff. But it's also because they have smaller amounts of data to hand off to a service provider, and with today's technology, that's also key -- most Internet connections today don't offer the bandwidth necessary to send large amounts of data over the wire.

"Pretty much anything larger than a PC is going to require some kind of 'seeding' device like a tape or removable hard drive to be sent physically between locations for the first backup or a large restore," Balaouras said. "You're not going to backup a massive data center with an online service -- that's too much data." Generally, businesses using online services have from a few hundred GB to about 10 TB, she said.

As an emerging market, online backup offers wide diversity in approaches and offerings. Below is a list of the most widely used offerings, followed by lists of emerging players and providers focused on the consumer or very small office environments.

The major players

Amazon S3: Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) is one of the longest-tenured and most popular online backup services on the market. The service offers online data storage "buckets" that developers can use; some end users send data to the service directly, while others use one of Amazon's ISV partners which provide interfaces into the service, like open-source data backup software maker Zmanda or emerging Australian file system middleware player Moonwalk. Some companies may also be using Amazon's storage behind an OEM software partner.

Asigra: Asigra isn't a service provider itself, but the company's business is primarily based on selling the agentless Televaulting software to managed service providers, including CoreVault, AllConnected, More Group, Diversified Disaster Recovery Services, Horry Telephone Cooperative, Data Storage Corporation, Bell Canada Business Solutions, DS3 DataVaulting, VaultLogix, Terian, NetMass, NetStandard, and others.

Two of Asigra's biggest partners are AmeriVault and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP). Founded in 1998, AmeriVault is another longstanding player in the hosted storage space. AmeriVault offers two online backup options: AmeriVault-AV, which includes deduplication, agentless operation, replication to another datacenter for DR, and optional continuous data protection (CDP); and AmeriVault-EV, an 'economy' service offering quick backup and restores for offsite data protection and regulatory compliance. Users of the AmeriVault-AV service also have the option of storing less critical data on more cost-effective disk with an additional service called AmeriVault-DG, which automatically migrates older backup files to less costly vault storage.

HP services offers the HP Care Pack Smart Online Backup and Recovery service based on Iron Mountain's LiveVault (see below), and Asigra's Televaulting software forms the basis for HP's Electronic Vaulting Services for Enterprises.

EMC: EMC has developed a new version of the Mozy backup service it acquired from Berkeley Data Systems Inc. on Oct. 4, 2007. The new version, Mozy Enterprise, is intended for large numbers of Windows workstations or small servers, but not for enterprise data backup. Mozy Enterprise allows administrators to push out Mozy software agents to hundreds or thousands of clients using deployment tools such as Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS). EMC has also baked in enterprise-level security features from RSA Security Inc. with Mozy Enterprise, including authentication, integration with Active Directory and key management services. EMC is also continuing to offer the MozyHome and MozyPro consumer and small office/home office backup services, but at higher prices than Mozy set when it was an independent company. Verizon Business will also be rebranding the Mozy Enterprise service.

IBM/Arsenal Digital Solutions: IBM acquired Arsenal in December 2007. Arsenal Digital has been added to IBM's Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (BCRS) business unit, which is part of the IBM Global Technology Services division. Arsenal claimed more than 20 PB of data under management, 3,400 customers in 12 countries, and sold services AT&T and other telecommunications companies rebrand as their service offerings.

Iron Mountain/LiveVault/Connected: Iron Mountain offers several hosted services for sending users' data offsite, and in the backup/DR realm it has two offerings. The LiveVault product, acquired with a startup of the same name in 2005, is for automated server online backup. LiveVault provides near-continuous backup (snapshots are taken as often as every 15 minutes), backing up only changed data. Users also have the option of a local appliance called TurboRestore, which retains up to one week of backup data onsite. Iron Mountain partners including HP and Eze Castle resell the LiveVault service. Connected is for PC backup only, and only protects files that reside locally on a PC; it does not support servers, data on networked drives, or data on flash drives or removable hardware. Iron Mountain offers consolidated billing plans for small businesses with between 5 and 100 PCs.

Symantec: The Symantec Protection Network (SPN) has been generally available since mid-February, and is offered as a standalone service, as well as a backup media option in Backup Exec version 12. The two services are called Symantec Online Backup and Symantec Online Storage for Backup Exec. The Online Backup option accesses the SPN storage facility through a Web portal that includes a user's registration and account information, as well as access to provisioning tools for the service. The portal is eventually intended to support other SaaS offerings from Symantec with tabular views in a single console. Pricing for the service is $25 per month for 5 GB of storage.

Seagate/EVault: Seagate acquired EVault for $185 million in 2006. The backup and disaster recovery service supports virtually all host OSes, including VMware, and offers advanced data protection services such as data deduplication, encryption and desktop/laptop backup. SunGard also offers online backup based on EVault's product.

Emerging players

With online backup and other hosted data management services gaining popularity, venture capitalists are cranking out the bucks to fund new offerings. There are also a number of smaller players carving out a niche in the market. Below is a list of some of the more frequently mentioned emerging players, along with links to their websites.


Small office/consumer

Generally, users with more than 500 GB to 1 TB of data to send offsite will look at more efficient alternatives such as replication to secondary sites or offsite tape, so most online backup services are targeted at small amounts of data. But there are some that are specifically meant for very small environments, in the single-digit GB range, or which are focused on consumers or businesses with just a few machines. Below is a list of some of these service providers.


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