Open Source + Amazon Storage = Less Backup Cost

Let's be honest: half of the companies reading this today are NOT backing up their data properly. That's the optimistic figure, because some backup industry analysts say about two-thirds of companies have backup issues that cause them grief. But there's hope for the unprepared half or two-thirds of you out there.

Enter a new player in small and medium business backup, Zmanda. They mashed together two money-saving tools to drop the costs of online backup lower than most of their competitors. By adding open source backup software with the storage infrastructure of Amazon's S3, they multiply savings. You can use some Zmanda products to backup locally, but I strongly (repeat, strongly) recommend you also save a copy of all data offsite as well.

Chander Kant, Zmanda CEO, said via e-mail that using Amazon as a storage back-end works better for customers than some of the bigger names in online storage. Why? “We protect your data to a public storage cloud with openly published APIs to access the data, and store your data in open formats. So, as long as you have your credentials you will be always able to recover your data, regardless of whether you have Zmanda's software running or not.”

Kant describes his small business customers as those with 1-10 servers being backed up, and medium sized customers as those with up to 250 servers. Sounds OK to me, although if your company has 250 servers I'm calling you a large company.

Software for local backup servers and clients are available on an annual subscription basis. That makes acquisition costs pretty low compared to many of their competitors. Software to backup clients of all operating systems, and specialized servers like Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server, are all available on an annual subscription basis. Less out of pocket expenses may persuade some of you backup gamblers to start protecting your ass...ets.

Prices for online storage follow the less expensive model as well. Unlike some providers that charge dollars per stored gigabyte and assess transfer fees as well, Zmanda charges 20 cents per GB with no transfer fees. There goes your argument that online backup is too expensive.

Do we really need another backup provider? After all, there are hundreds out there already.

I say yes, because there are still millions of small businesses rolling the dice every day with their data. Maybe I should make a pair of “Data Dice” for companies who think they'll never lose data. Instead of one dot, I'll put “Data Loss” on one face of each die. If you've ever rolled the dice, you know snake eyes comes up sooner or later. Seeing “Data Loss” rather than snake eyes should make the point quite well.

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