By Lucas Mearian
DECEMBER 01, 2005
The number of companies making copies of data to protect it has
dramatically risen in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Wilma this
year, but most of those companies are keeping that duplicate data
locally where it's still vulnerable to disasters, according to a
survey released yesterday by Gartner Inc. The September survey of 104
North American IT managers showed that 45% of respondents back up or
replicate data to another disk, up from just 6% who did so in 2004.
But 70% of the respondents who make backups do so to a local device.
Adam Couture, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, said that
if companies hope to truly protect their data, they have to
electronically copy it to an off-site facility either owned by the
company or a service provider.
Dale Caldwell, a systems programmer at Grange Insurance Group in
Seattle, said that until a year ago, his company performed nightly
tape backups that took four hours to complete and stored the tapes at
an office in another part of the city. But after 9/11 and a recent
spate of natural disasters, regulators pushed the company to establish
disaster recovery plans that include off-site data replication.
As a result, Caldwell chose to replicate data between a virtual tape
library (VTL) in his main data center and one in an off-site location
in Spokane, Wash. -- 230 miles away. He is using a VTL controller from
Bus-Tech Inc. in Burlington, Mass., to store and retrieve mainframe
tape data sets, eliminating most of his tape infrastructure.
"The [off-site replication] has been really wonderful. There's a lot
of time savings to it," Caldwell said.
Caldwell said the disk-to-disk replication knocked two hours off his
nightly backups and allowed him to trim the time needed for data
restorations from two hours with tape to 45 minutes with disk.
Christopher Varner, chief technology officer at DDJ Capital Management
LLC in Wellesley, Mass., said he is considering a move away from tape
backup to an electronic backup scheme using an online data backup and
recovery service from EVault Inc. in Emeryville, Calif., and
protection services from SunGard Data Systems Inc. in Wayne, Pa.
DDJ Capital plans to install a backup storage server on its LAN
running EVault software for regular backups to restore deleted files
locally. The firm also plans to have a duplicate backup server making
copies over the Internet to a SunGard data center also running EVault.
"This enhances our disaster recovery capabilities and also makes
backups easier for my staff," Varner said. "No more taking tapes home
every night or dealing with the hassle of rotating our tape library in
the bank safe deposit box."
The local vault will be used as necessary to restore deleted files,
and the off-site backup will be used for disaster recovery.
The Gartner survey also showed that IT managers are more comfortable
considering managed storage services to copy data off-site. Over the
past two years, Couture said, surveys have shown that between 30% and
40% of IT managers would never use a third-party service provider. But
in the most recent survey, that number had plummeted to just 6%.
"The survey showed me the barriers to managed service providers are
really coming down," he said.
The survey also showed that security is becoming a priority for IT
managers because of a number of highly publicized data-loss incidents
this year. Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said they encrypt all
backup files, and 50% said they will review internal policies
surrounding access to backup data.
"One of the advantages of using a service provider for remote backup
service is they encrypt everything before it's set, and of course,
nobody is touching a physical tape or putting it on the truck,"
The prospect of service-provider culpability is also a top concern for
many respondents, with 40% saying they plan to review the security
policies and procedures of their physical tape archiving service
providers. Another one-third said they may switch to another service
The physical loss of tapes can often be blamed on the fact that the
physical transportation of tapes involves many "hands" moving them
from their silo slots to bins to transport trucks to a physical
archive location, to their storage slots and back again, Gartner said
in its report. Eliminating all touch points also eliminates the
possibility of human error or theft, Couture said.
In light of that, 35% of survey respondents said they plan to switch
to network-based backups, while another 20% cited plans to move to
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