• 12/17/2008
    10:45 PM
  • Network Computing
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Sifting Through Online Backup Service Options

For businesses, finding the right mix of features and storage management tools can be difficult
The boss says it is time to make some changes. He doesn't want you to spend so much time doing manual backups and tells you to research online backup services. You know there are lots of options. So what are the key questions and issues you need to understand before entrusting your company's data jewels to a third party?

There are scores of online backup services and more seem to be surfacing each day. Some are designed for specific types of customers, such as consumers who take a lot of photos and want to share them or small companies that conduct all of their business via email. Pricing for these services can vary dramatically. Also, there aren't many robust tools to manage these services and the backed up data, so they aren't ideal for large enterprises.

Despite many limitations, the future for these services seems bright. While the market right now is relatively small at only a few hundred million dollars annually in the U.S., it is experiencing double-digit growth and analysts predict such services will become more widely adopted -- especially in the small business and remote office market.

One of the first dividing points among the different services is their target customers. Many of the backup sites are designed for consumers. Rather than backing up information stored on servers in a data center, these services are designed to copy information stationed on desktop or laptop computers. Typically, the vendors offer rather simple backup options at relatively low prices, such as a couple of dollars a month for a few gigabytes of storage.

There are a couple of reasons for this focus. Since the dotcom boom, vendors' business models have shifted. Many service providers first focus on the consumer market -- there are potentially hundreds of millions of customers in that market -- and later go after the business sector.

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