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Advice on Backup Services

6:00 PM -- When Stephen Perkins first got into the online backup business, it was a tough sell. There were companies that needed his service, but without fast Internet access, plus enterprise-level features like reporting and security, it was a nickel-and-dime business.

Now, Perkins says his company, NetMass, can't keep up with demand. The reason? He's got services on a larger scale, using software from Asigra as well as SANs from HP and EqualLogic, among other components. (See Vaalco Energy.)

Perkins, a PhD in computer science who used to develop digital signal processors at Texas Instruments, has a few recommendations for anyone looking to launch a service -- or use one.

"Some companies geared to the consumer market say they have online backup, but they're really not set up for business. They don't have the reporting capabilities and security features you need for enterprise deployments," Perkins says.

Here are some of the things Perkins says are "musts" for an online backup service:

  • Good facilities. Make sure the service is housed in a place that has plenty of power and security -- like a collocation hotel, preferably one housed in Kevlar.
  • ISP proximity. Make sure the service is close to the switches of key Tier 1 ISPs. See collocation hotel above.
  • Good equipment. Gear needs to be state of the art to support a solid service for multiple users.
  • Redundancy. There must be two of everything to support enterprise customers.
  • Security. Ask about encryption and other methods of securing data.
  • Reporting. Make sure you can get online reports on backup status.
  • Scaleability. It should be possible for a provider to give you service across multiple sites, for different operating systems, without putting a lot of extra stuff in your data center.
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