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Disaster Recovery Goes Mainstream

Disaster recovery topped to-do lists of companies of all sizes after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. More than two years later, its still on to-do lists, but the improved economy could mean more companies are ready to spend -- including small and medium-sized enterprises.

Storage service providers (SSPs) hope to finally make disaster recovery a reality for smaller companies in 2004. They have reasons for optimism: IT budgets are rising and new regulations are forcing companies to pay more attention to their backup and restore capabilities. At the same time, there are technological improvements, such as ATA disk as an alternative to tape backups, improved data security, and snapshot technology, all of which make replication services easier to offer -- and more accessible to companies with small or no IT staffs.

Startup SSPs are looking to cash in on this new market. EVault Inc. targets small to medium businesses with an offsite data recovery program; and Salem Group this week announced an offsite data replication service that uses data protection software from Topio. These programs, along with ones offered by AmeriVault Corp., Arsenal Digital Solutions Worldwide Inc., LiveVault Corp., and ManagedStorage International Inc. (MSI), give smaller companies offsite disk-to-disk backup that only enterprises could afford until recently.

Generally, the SSPs charge a per-gigabyte fee, and they're finding ready takers in companies that aren't able or willing to tackle new storage needs on their own. "Smaller companies just can't afford to do this themselves," says Punk Ziegel & Co. senior analyst Steve Berg. "And even if they could, they'd just as soon write a check and have somebody come and take care of it."

The SSPs are happy to oblige. "The midtier is our sweet spot," Salem Group CEO Geoff Sinn says.

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