Big Data Is Getting Bigger

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Big Data Is Getting Bigger

A Gartner poll surveying attendees at its U.S. Data Center Conference reported that respondents identified "dealing with growing data/storage requirements" as their largest data center challenge. Given the deluge of critical corporate data, a well-thought-out backup and data protection strategy is vital today, as it will optimize storage costs, lead to better data organization and minimize business risks related to IT failure, corporate data loss or a catastrophic on-site event. Big data will only get bigger, putting increased pressure on SMB IT departments to ensure backup and recovery of the data. Â

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Cloud Backup Is Now More Accessible

A few technological advancements have made cloud storage more accessible for SMBs. For example, deduplication—now mostly standard in storage systems—has dramatically improved data transfer speed. Data deduplication reduces the bandwidth necessary to perform backups, and many traditional and cloud-based storage vendors incorporate deduplication technology into their storage offerings.

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Cloud Backup Is Now More Affordable

The cost of online data storage has decreased, primarily because hosting providers' data center and hardware costs have decreased, as have Internet bandwidth costs. As recently as 2006, it would have cost SMBs $13 per gigabyte of data storage, perhaps even more if an SMB worked with a VAR or managed service provider (MSP) that would provide additional management services with associated costs. Today, online storage could cost as low as 50 cents per gigabyte of storage. The savings add up as SMBs move more and more data online.

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Data Exchange Speeds Have Improved

While deduplication and backup policies reduce the amount of data that needs to be backed up, the initial seed, which is the first full backup of all of a company's data, has been cumbersome and often cost- and time-prohibitive for SMBs. Using a DSL/T1 Internet connection, it used to take SMBs weeks to seed 1 terabyte of data. Not only does this seem like a large amount of time for an initial backup, these data-transfer rates also apply to data recovery, which would be unacceptable for an SMB in the wake of a catastrophic IT failure. The increasing availability of broadband—now accessible in 98 percent of the United States—has changed this tremendously.

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Portability of Storage Media Helps Movement to Cloud

The challenge to distributing data is met head-on by the availability of removable disk devices, which can be used for the first initial backup to the cloud. Copying terabytes of data to on-site removal disk drives and securely shipping them to the online backup or cloud storage provider dramatically reduces the amount of time and bandwidth required to implement a cloud-based data protection solution. Taking full advantage of the data-transfer speeds available for local copying can reduce the initial backup time, including shipping, to only one or two days.

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Security Concerns Mitigated by Asking the Right Questions

A cloud-based online backup and recovery solution, provided by a reputable and tested vendor, can be the best insurance policy against catastrophic data failure or theft. But, SMBs that leave security of their cloud storage providers to chance face far greater risk. It is essential that an SMB review a cloud storage provider's security policies thoroughly before selecting a vendor. Data sent to and from the cloud must have built-in protections to ensure a successful journey from the client to the data center, and back. Encryption is an essential component to data security.

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Cloud Backup Efficient for Mobile Devices

With an increasingly mobile workforce, securing data on smartphones, laptops and tablets should be a top priority for every organization. Mobile devices often carry critical data; however, a surprising number of businesses fail to adequately protect them. A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that only 39 percent of surveyed organizations have the necessary security controls to mitigate risk posed by insecure mobile devices, placing an organization at great risk should they be lost or stolen. Cloud storage can ensure that not only your company's on-site data is safe but also that of your employees.

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Cloud Backup an Important Safeguard Against Disasters

Over the past few years, data loss due to multiple hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and storms has brought more attention to disaster recovery. It's imperative that your data is backed up routinely to a remote, off-site data center. "Companies are not only consolidating their backup sites, they're also decreasing the distance between them, according to Forrester's "State of Enterprise Disaster Recovery Preparedness, Q2 2011." "This is a red flag for companies whose DR sites are close enough that they could be affected by the same disaster."

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There Are Plenty of Choices Out There

Cost, for obvious reasons, is one of the deciding factors associated with choosing a cloud storage partner. While it may seem like a simple evaluation technique, it's anything but. There is a severe lack of consistency among providers regarding what customers pay for and receive; features vary widely, and virtualization complicates pricing models further. Make it a point to understand exactly what you need, what you'll be paying for and what the final costs are. The reason you're considering moving to the cloud may be to reduce costs. But with improper planning and a poor vendor selection, you can find yourself paying for services you don't need or understand.

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Cloud Storage Will Become More Strategic Over Time

The availability of new turnkey storage solutions, now at price points that many SMBs can afford, means that SMBs can deploy a very cost-effective, multi-tiered backup and data protection strategy by using on-site, off-site and cloud backup methods. According to a Spiceworks' Voice of IT market research report, nearly 60 percent of SMBs interviewed believe cloud computing will be important to their organization's storage infrastructure plans. Among those storage solutions, cloud backup, commonly referred to as online backup, provides a foray into the cloud, satisfying C-level interest in yielding cost savings while optimizing data protection.

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