Online vendors provide backup/recovery options

Market poised for significant growth

By Heidi Biggar

Online backup and recovery is not a new concept but one that has experienced a rebirth of sorts since September 11.

Walnut Creek, CA, provider EVault, for example, says it has seen a 32% increase in sales over the past four months, while LiveVault (Marlborough, MA) last month secured $8 million in a round of equity funding. LiveVault, which is now 100% focused on services, not software, says it will use the money to improve its online services and to accelerate sales through partners such as Compaq, Iron Mountain, and Microsoft.

"September 11 has driven home the point that disaster recovery isn't just a necessity for large companies, but for everyone," says Arun Taneja, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group, a research and consulting firm in Milford, MA. The problem is that not everyone is set up to implement and manage such exhaustive plans. For these companies, online backup and recovery may make a lot of sense, Taneja says.

"We typically provide electronic backup-and-recovery services for organizations that have traditionally based their disaster- recovery needs on tape," explains Alston Noah, EVault's chief executive officer. "They've still got their primary data at their site. We're just backing that up and [eliminating] the labor-intensive, error-prone process of tape backup."

Click here to enlarge image

In general, vendors like EVault and LiveVault provide automated, managed server backup and recovery, or electronic vaulting services for small to medium-sized companies or for remote or branch offices at large organizations. (This compares to online services from companies such as Connected, SwapDrive, Xdrive, and others, which focus on PC backup and recovery.)

Data is transmitted over private or Internet connections and stored on disk at secure off-site locations for a pre-determined length of time, after which it is either deleted or moved to tape (see sidebar).

"The general rule of thumb is to keep daily updates online for a week, weeklies for a month, and monthlies for a year," says EVault's Noah. "So, we're keeping about a year's worth of data online." For optimum performance, EVault compresses the data and only transmits incremental changes, which it says amounts to about 2% of the total data volume-each backup.

EVault currently services about 200TB of data for approximately 600 companies worldwide. Data is stored on Hitachi or EMC disk arrays at collocation facilities in Arizona, California, Illinois, Ontario, and Texas. In January, the company bolstered its service offerings with a remote management capability that allows users to manage backup-and-recovery operations across the enterprise from a single, central location, as well as expanded platform support (Solaris, Red Hat Linux, and Windows). The software also includes new install/upgrade capabilities, which enables system administrators to "push" new software installs and updates to any server in their network.

EVault, unlike LiveVault, does not offer continuous data backup via mirroring. EVault's Noah points to a variety of market, cost, bandwidth, and platform-support issues as reasons not to add this capability.

Analyst firms such as Cahners In-Stat Group expect revenue from secondary storage/online backup-and-recovery providers to account for a significant portion of total storage service provider (SSP) revenue (see figure).

International Data Corp. estimates that 60% to 70% of SSP business is currently backup related, while a recent Gartner Inc. survey revealed server backup and recovery as the number one storage service requested by companies (see "SSPs launch software blitz," InfoStor, November 2001, p.1).

How EVault works

AdministratorAgentVault Manager
Installed on system administrator's workstation.Installed on each server to be protected.Installed on the vault server.
Provides system administrator with complete control of backup-and-recovery process from a single, central location via a graphical user interface.Tracks changes on each protected server.Monitors backups.
 Sends change files to the vault.Catalogs and archives change files.
  Rebuilds data images to be restored.

This article was originally published on March 01, 2002