Storage Soup

Apr 14 2008   2:20PM GMT

Blog dialogue: Online vs. traditional backup

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

I was very happy to see one of my regular blog-stops, Anil Gupta’s Network Storage, pick up on a recent post I wrote–the one about HP’s new online storage services.

In his response post, Gupta picks up on this graf in particular:

Like most online storage offerings to date, this offering is small in scale and limited in its features when compared with on-premise products. Most analysts and vendors say online storage will be limited by bandwidth constraints and security concerns to the low end of the market, with most services on the market looking a lot like HP Upline.

And responds:

there is nothing unique in most Online Backup Services that couldn’t be in traditional backup for laptop/desktop. At least traditional backup also come with peace of mind that all backups are stored on company’s own infrastructure. In last few years, I tried over a dozen online backup services in addition to putting up with traditional backup clients for laptop/desktop and I don’t see much difference among the two.

IMO, most online backup services are just taking existing on-premise backup strategy for laptops/desktops and repackaging it to run backups to somebody else’s infrastructure instead of your own.

I see what he’s saying, but in my opinion Gupta probably has “too much” experience with backup clients to necessarily see things from the SMB customer’s point of view. For him, installing a backup client isn’t a big deal–for some, it might be enough of a reason to let somebody else deal with it. Or at least, backup SaaS vendors are hoping so.

7  Comments on this Post

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  • Michael Reagan
    Anil Gupta vastly "misunderstands" the backup needs of the SMB, (many of whom do not have a full-time IT staff), and he seems to underestimate the costs and expertise associated with a small company building their own "infrastructure." A reliable, ready-made backup infrastructure is simply beyond the scope of many SMBs. Michael Reagan
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  • Scottjw
    I guess I would add to your observations with the following: - Encryption is non-trivial for the enterprise, and almost impossible for the SMB market. Online backup makes it "just happen". - Reliability. Almost every SMB will have issues with the reliability of their backup tapes, especially if they do not have a dedicated backup admin, and especially because they are phsyically handled (and mishandled) in the offsite process. To make matters worse, the quality of infrastructure they have for backup is not as robust as that in the enterprise data center. Online backup should be several orders of magnitude more reliable. - Bandwidth constraints are over come by block level differencing or deduplication. - Cost. We believe Mozy (and yes, full disclosure, I work for EMC) will be less expensive than owning the infrastructure, licensing, and administrative effort. As an aside, even the slightly more expensive enterprise pricing offered by Mozy for big customers is still less expensive than the internal cost of delivery for these customers (which already have large backup infrastructure and applications to leverage) to do desktop and remote backup. Is there anything individually that is unique? Perhaps not. Do all the individual, and individually different things add up? Absolutely they do. Separately they are quantitative differences. In combination, online backup is a qualitatively different thing than doing it yourself the traditional way.
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  • "John
    Beth - You make a great point about the target audience for online backup and recovery services. In some small businesses, the "IT" person just might be the office admin or the resident tech geek. If the business is more technically sophisticated, there might be a full-time staff responsible for managing the entire IT environment. Unless these businesses have the in-house expertise and/or resources, SMBs might be better off using a flexible, secure and reliable off-site backup and recovery service that protects their data and will grow with them as their business and data needs change. For this market, it's oftentimes a lot easier and safer to outsource this process than rely on staff to ensure backup tapes/CDs/DVDs are transported safely off-site with the hope that data can be restored from them in the case of an emergency.
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  • Anil Gupta
    Beth, Thanks for making my blog a regular stop despite me being irregular with blog posts. My intention of covering Online Backup is not to differentiate or promote one method over another. But to show similarities and question using same architecture and strategy online as with onsite. Also, the post is setting stage for future opinions on developing a "real" BaaS offering instead of just moving onsite backup strategy online and call it BaaS. Anil P.S. BTW, I am curious why bloggers (you too) like to use my last name "Gupta" instead of first when referring to me. ;-) Never understood it.
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  • Beth Pariseau
    Hey Anil, not sure about other bloggers, but for me it's just news-writing habit; we always refer to people by their last name after the first mention. i look forward to your further posts!
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  • Jesse G.
    Having both been an SMB owner and consulting in SMB environments I understand one thing. Most SMB IT management need a 'fire and forget' backup system. Or at least one that leads them along. When I was working for my last job with a pseudo-financial institution (actually they were more of a pseudo-institution) we had many requirements but no budget for backup. The VP of Infrastructure just couldn't understand why the storage guy (me) couldn't manage the storage and the day-to-day backups as well. Most SMB clients are even worse off. They don't even have a full-time storage person, let alone a full-time backup person. They need their system to run without constant monitoring, email them if there is a problem, and periodically nudge them to swap tapes. Other than that they just need to have the confidence that everything is just going to work.
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  • Danny
    I agree. I own a small business, 1 server and 6 PC's, 7 staff. As we are focused on growing the business the concept of backup whilst important was a real pain and never really happened. 30GB of data means backup locally or offsite, but as my DSL bandwidth is not great 30GB upload would take the best part of 6 weeks. The reason for me writing is to let you know I have found a solution by a company called perfectbackup (you can find them easily if you search) who offers the best of both. It will automatically backup my server to a local usb drive and also to their online storage facilities, the key word here is automatically. We never have to "waste" time backing up. The other nice facility is I sent them my data on a hard drive which they uploaded, now I only backup my daily changes.
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