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Startup Intronis has been quietly adding flesh to the bones of its online backup story, joining a growing list of vendors touting an Internet-based alternative to tape. (See The State of Data Backup Protection.)

Tapes, or more precisely lost tapes, are a major source of anxiety for IT managers, particularly after a string of high-profile snafus involving the technology. (See Users Confess Security Fears , Users Go for Data Lockdown, Data Destruction, at Your Disposal, Washington University Medical School, and Managing Tape in the Age of Disk.) Many users are looking for alternatives that will prevent an embarrassing data breach.

Intronis, which was founded four years ago by Sam Gutmann, Neal Bradbury, and Steve Frank shortly after their graduation from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, is dedicated to an online alternative. "We can do the same thing with online backup that you can with tape," says Intronis CEO Gutmann, explaining that the vendor uses the Internet to offer a managed backup service.

The CEO, who did some consulting work during his time as a student, realized there was an opportunity in the backup market, particularly where small firms were concerned. "There was a huge hole in backup," he says. "Maybe the [SMB's] office manager would take tapes home -- nobody ever reliably moved [tapes] offsite."

In an attempt to tap unmet demand, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Intronis launched an online backup service called eSureIT in 2003. In a nutshell, users download the backup software from Intronis' Website. They can then install it as an agent on their servers and PCs, which interact with servers at Intronis headquarters.

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