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Vaalco Energy

The word is that online backup services are on the rise. But in reality, online backup requires a confluence of forces to work properly: Vendors of service-enabling products must include the right features; service providers need the right technologies and facilities to open business; and end users need to be sure the model will work for them.

When an online backup ecosystem works properly, though, it can be a boon to all involved, as the following story illustrates.

Flash back to November 2005. When the IT team at Vaalco Energy Inc. learned they needed a new backup system for SQL Server accounting data, there wasn't much time to act. Auditors at the oil and gas firm's Houston headquarters said a new system had to be in place within a couple of weeks -- or the firm would risk Sarbanes-Oxley penalties.

"They required better controls for backup. Until then, I was making copies every few days and taking the tapes home with me," says Robert Walston, IT and purchasing supervisor at Vaalco. With his colleague IT specialist Derek Stubbs, he set about finding a solution.

Hiring an outside firm to pick up the tapes was an option, but it didn't seem to make sense financially or logistically. Vaalco is small, even if it does over $500 million in annual revenue. Walston and Stubbs are on their own among less than 30 employees in the Houston office. Someone would have to be on site to meet the third-party tape guardian's intermediary. That amounted to less efficient backup, even if it was in the interest of compliance.

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