For all their differences, SMBs and ROBOs (remote offices/branch offices) have one unavoidable headache in common: designing a robust backup and recovery system at a justifiable cost.
When backing up network assets, larger, centralized organizations typically employ expansive -- and expensive -- automated tape systems. Although such backups may go to disk first for performance reasons, almost all end up on tape. An off-site vault provider then maintains copies of backup tapes in case of disaster. To meet recovery requirements for important applications, some large-scale enterprises tap more advanced methods, such as replication or CDP (continuous data protection).
SMBs and ROBOs rarely have the luxury, however, of duplicating big-time backup schemes on a small scale. Typically, they lack the administrative and operational expertise, the capital for tape hardware, or the money to pay an off-site vault company month after month. The unfortunate result is that many small offices do not back up their data at all -- or they use an inexpensive system fraught with design flaws and operational challenges, such as a single tape drive that performs a full backup every night. Those tapes typically stay on site and in many cases sit inside the backup server, allowing a single break-in or fire to destroy everything. Worse, lack of oversight may mean that backups are routinely falling under the radar -- until a failed attempt at restoring them gets somebody fired.
SMBs and ROBOs know they need backups that work. They just can’t perform them affordably and reliably. What’s needed is the equivalent of an AOL for backups -- click OK, pick a screen name, and make backups happen. But the relatively slow connections typical of SMBs and ROBOs mean that conventional backup schemes, in which one change to a huge file results in that entire file being backed up, must be replaced by more intelligent, incremental schemes.
Backup on a Human Scale
Vendors such as Asigra, Avamar, Connected, EVault, and LiveVault offer products and services that enable administrators to perform advanced incremental backups with point-and-click ease. All allow you to load their software onto your environment, which you then back up to a remote vaulting service via the Internet. And they all encrypt the data for security reasons.
Administrators can select individual drives and directories as well as certain file types to include or exclude. Most offerings support auto-discovery, allowing you to back up all drives on the system automatically, without having to update the software every time you add a new drive or file system. LiveVault and Connected enable you to manage their products via the Web, whereas the other products are managed by software loaded onto your environment, such as a Windows workstation. Some also have Java consoles that can be installed on other platforms.
In most cases, you need to install an agent on each machine that is to be backed up. With Asigra’s software, however, you select one system in your environment to be the “ds-client,” which then communicates automatically with all systems in your environment using a variety of protocols, including SSH, CIFS, or NFS. It even performs hot backups of databases using this approach. Asigra doesn’t charge for its ds-client or database agents; it bills only for the amount of data you’re protecting.