Laptop Venn & Zen

Laptop users are forcing the convergence of backup, security, and remote access

January 25, 2006

3 Min Read
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It's eight o'clock. Do you know where your laptop is?

Everyone knows laptops are one of the most vulnerable points in the corporate network -- and one of the most indispensable. I can't imagine working without mine, not to mention checking my bank balance and paying bills. I also can't imagine losing it.

But loss of laptops and the technology that goes with them, including portable storage devices, is all too common. (If you doubt, check out the role laptops played in the closure of Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2004.) (See Los Alamos Disks May Not Be Lost.) When disaster strikes the impact can shatter corporate security and stifle business growth.

In light of this, recent storage industry developments seem long overdue. IBM has added tools that bolster the laptop backup capabilities of its CDP for Files package. (See IBM Updates CDP.) Iron Mountain, frequently cited in data loss reports, is offering software to help encrypt laptop data and automatically disable lost or stolen laptops. (See Iron Mtn Adds DataDefense Solution.) Security vendors like Check Point Software and GuardianEdge Technologies have overhauled their wares to better accommodate laptop users. (See Check Point Extends Security and Data Thefts Spurs GuardianEdge.)

It's nice to see the industry whiff the decaf latte. But one of the most promising developments is still unfolding. Last week's purchase of laptop backup vendor Mobiliti by WAFS supplier Tacit Networks Inc. heralds a compelling combination. (See Tacit Adds Mobiliti to Shopping List.) By incorporating laptop backup into the WAFS platform, which optimizes remote site data connectivity, IT pros could get better security, data management, and cost savings.The logic is clear: While some laptop users are willing to jump through hoops to code in complex security and backup routines many are not. Ask Winston Grey, IT manager for Consigli Construction Co. Inc., whose 120-odd laptop users can't be bothered with data integrity. "We have people here for whom it's bad enough just to turn a computer on," he says. Nonetheless, loss of a laptop-stored document needed to protect engineering liability could bring down the house.

Guys like Grey are desperate for easy-to-use products that address the Venn intersection of security, backup, and WAFs. Yes, Venn -- recall those clever diagrams in which the central portion, usually colored in, depicts the intersection of three circles. For his part, Grey has already ditched his Veritas Backup Exec in favor of IBM's CDP for Files. He thought it required too much of end users. These people seem ready to embrace new concepts and many would likely be open to buying fewer products do get the job(s) done.

What's needed is the Zen to make it happen. There's long been talk of adding backup and security to WAFS gear, but progress has been slow. Big vendors aren't buying in with any vigor. (See Backup Encryption Mulled.)

Now, that could change. The urgency of laptop security and data protection could be the lever for real progress. As laptops rise in the collective consciousness, so does supplier awareness of pent-up demand. Expect more deals like Tacit's, and more partnerships. Expect to be surprised.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

  • Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP)

  • GuardianEdge Technologies Inc.

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM)

  • Mobiliti Inc.

  • Tacit Networks Inc.

  • Veritas Software Corp.

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