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Posts Tagged ‘Backup

Backup your data passively, or don’t backup at all

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A standard RJ45 Ethernet connector.
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I’ve finally come to realization that the idea of an end home/SoHO/SMB user being actively involved in backup of their data is a losing proposition.

Foundry Group just funded Cloud Engines, a company that makes a product (Pogoplug) which allows you to passively share data from your hard drive and make it available as a cloud-like service.  Certainly automated backups would be a logical next step.

There are also some other guys out there (whose names are escaping me – and by all means please add them to the comments) who take a similar approach of placing a device in the network path to perform backups with bare minimum user configuration or intervention.

If the backup service/software has to prompt a user for files and directories to be backed up, it has already failed.  The user will underutilize it, or won’t use it at all (sadly I’m in the latter bucket).

A device inline on the network will miss some stuff, but it’s certainly better than nothing (which is what you get with backup software which sits uninstalled/unconfigured).

I wonder if the network card makers could create a backup offload engine (BOE?) chip that would grab file related network I/O’s and replicate them into the cloud.  We have TCP offload engines (TOE), and iSCSI offload chips, so why not BOE?

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Written by John Gannon

May 13, 2009 at 5:56 pm

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Online backup is the Trojan Horse of the cloud

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160 GB SDLT tape cartridge, an example of off-...
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Online backup (think Carbonite, Mozy, etc) is generally considered a terribly unsexy, commodity business.  You’re basically reselling cheap (and continually declining in price) storage and compute power and then tying it together with an application to shuttle bits back and forth.  Those kind of dynamics give rise to highly competitive markets with numerous players and low profit margins.  Because of these traits, I had always told myself that I would never want to invest in an online backup business.

It’s true that the constituent parts of an online backup service are commodities.  However, I think what a company does with the data once its backed up in the cloud is what will create enormous value.

Once all of a customer’s data is in the cloud, it becomes possible to do a number of things that you can’t do as easily when it is sitting on someone’s desktop or server hard drive:

  • share an individual’s data across the organization (content management and collaboration)
  • reduce overall data storage needs by eliminating duplicate records (enterprise wide deduplication)
  • discover patterns and identify relationships between information workers (social networking)
  • run a backed up application as a thin application running in the cloud (convert to VM)

It’s almost as if a cloud computing provider could use online backup as a loss leader to get data into the cloud, and then upsell a variety of new, ostensibly more profitable services (like those listed above).

So, online backup could be the Trojan Horse that accelerates adoption of cloud services.

Maybe I will invest in an online backup business after all… ;)

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Written by John Gannon

February 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

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