Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Advantages of Storage as a Service

One result of the availability of reasonably priced high bandwidth Wide Area Networks is the emergence of just about anything as a "service." Before the days of universal connectivity, mainframe computers were centralized and isolated devices buried in the corporate infrastructure. PCs were stand-alone productivity devices with their own application packages and hard drive storage. But that model is starting to fade as virtualization changes our perceptions on where computing resources need to be located.

Software as a Service or SaaS offers a way to be able to use the familiar desktop productivity tools such as word processing, database management and spreadsheets while letting someone else deal with the maintenance headache of purchasing expensive tool sets and constantly keeping them up to date. Instead of accessing the software that resides on your local PC or on a company server, you access it through a broadband connection to a service provider. As long as your WAN connection has sufficient bandwidth and is highly reliable, it may not make a bit of difference where the executable code resides.

The next step is to store your data as well as your software non-locally. You might be able to do that through your software service provider or you may elect to farm it out to a company that specializes in storage. This business service is called, appropriately, Storage as a Service. It has the same acronym as Software as a Service, SaaS. A storage service provider has massive amounts of archival storage capacity, the tools to allow you to manage storing and retrieving your data, and rigorous security measures to protect data integrity.

Why bother with buying storage services when you can do your own backups? There are two good reasons. First is the quantity of data that needs to be archived. Compliance requirements for businesses have made it more critical and onerous to archive absolutely every document, including email. Larger applications such as digital medical records, scan images, engineering data packages and high resolution graphics take more and more space as technology improves. A single disk quickly becomes a medium size RAID system which can expand to a room full of disks and tapes.

The second reason is security and recoverability of your data. It does no good to make copies on CD ROMs and store them in a desk drawer if the building is destroyed by flood, fire or tornado. Are you sure you're going to remember to take copies of all your data to an offsite storage facility? What about in-between times? Large enterprises have off-site data centers with fiber optic bandwidth for electronic data transfers. But small and medium size businesses probably don't.

A storage service provider acts as that remote data center to routinely and securely backup and archive your important files. Large service providers specialize in supporting corporate users. For individual professionals and small to medium size businesses, Mozy Online Backup, owned by EMC, offers reasonably priced and convenient storage services. A low-end service for individuals is even available free.

The Mozy professional service for businesses offers 128 bit SSL encryption en route, 448-bit Blowfish encryption on the servers, and the options of automatic, incremental and scheduled backups. No longer will you have to think about burning a CD ROM at the end of the day or week. You need a low cost software license for each computer you are backing up, plus there is a small charge per Gigabyte of data storage. MozyPro even helps medical companies with compliance to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) law. Learn more about Mozy Remote Backup options now.

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