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Microsoft, Iron Mountain Enable Cloud Backup & Recovery

11:00 AM -- Microsoft and Iron Mountain recently announced a cloud-based backup-and-recovery solution for Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007. It provides a powerful new option for business customers to perform disaster recovery over the Internet.

To put this into context, last month Microsoft announced the addition of Service Pack 1 (SP1) to DPM 2007, the backup-and-recovery software solution that is part of the company's ongoing strategy to cover more of its customers' business requirements with Microsoft software functionality. DPM 2007 SP1 offers a number of new features, such as expanded capabilities for SQL Server, SharePoint, and Hyper-V protection, in addition to already existing capabilities for other key Microsoft products.

This latest announcement by Microsoft and Iron Mountain consists of DPM 2007 cloud backup powered by the Iron Mountain CloudRecovery solution. Previously, DPM customers had two narrow choices for backup and recovery -- onsite to disk and/or tape. Now they have a third option: offsite backup and restore to an Iron Mountain-mirrored PCI-Compliant data center site using the CloudRecovery solution. However, customers still have to use DPM locally to create the primary copy of data. That is, they cannot use the off-premises Iron Mountain site as their primary storage site. In essence, the new offering allows businesses to use the Iron Mountain cloud as a disaster recovery site for data storage.

This is what Microsoft defines as an "attached solution." Iron Mountain places an agent on a local DPM server. A user can then see the Iron Mountain solution as a separate data source (i.e., a place from which data can be recovered after it has been backed up) through the DPM user interface. The solution is attached because it appears to be an integral part of DPM, meaning that it is designed to be easy to use. This is in contrast with what Microsoft calls a "pure play" solution, where a user would simply place a separate agent or program on a server and backup directly to the cloud, limiting or eliminating the need for onsite storage.

Now, in developing new offerings, Microsoft has an advantage that many companies would kill for: It can always get more than enough potential users to test its proposed products and give feedback. Some 45 early adopters of SP1 (consisting largely of midsized and large companies) were asked to give feedback on both options and by general consensus favored the attached solution. This is entirely understandable. In contrast, most really small companies and individuals prefer a pure-play solution as a remote backup over the Internet as it saves them the trouble of managing a local backup system yet still gives them a reliable and overall professional solution.

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