Blogs

Apr 2014
16

The overwhelming choice in backup solutions and how to stand out

 

The following is a guest post by Nathan Golden of Managecast:

Maybe every industry has 20 major competitors and maybe another 50 secondary competitors, but the cloud backupManagecast Logo market is thick with competition. The choices in protecting data are overwhelming and customers have a huge array of choice. There are also huge differences between cloud backup capabilities between competing solutions.

Trying to market or sell a cloud backup solution is certainly challenging no matter what product. Trying to find the one salient feature that no one else has is mostly impossible. Ultimately it is the combination of benefits that best meets the specific requirements that make a solution stand out, and that makes selling in this environment so difficult. Someone implementing new backup technology will need to understand these multiple benefits, as it applies directly to their situation, to understand the full value of your solution and give you the best chances of winning. It’s your job to help the customer understand this, and it usually needs to be done in 30 minutes or less!

I think what adds to the challenge, to be honest, is that backup is not very sexy. It’s one of those things you will never need if everything runs well and there are no major failures or site disaster. It’s like going to the dentist. Something you know you need to do regularly, yet is easy to put off because there is no immediate sense of pain in most cases. However, most people understand the damage from data loss can be so bad they need to do “something”. But what is “something”?

If you google “Cloud Backup”, the top names you see on the 1st screen are: Druva, iBackup, Carbonite, Barracuda, Dropbox, Commvault, Amazon, Mozy. What a mix!

Unless you really understand the requirements for the situation, you cannot reasonably understand if a particular solution best addresses the client’s needs. Always start with listening closely and documenting the requirements of the client’s situation. Then use these requirements to understand how to leverage your product’s strengths to address the particular “must haves” in a given situation.

Be warned, however, many do not have their requirements documented or thought out. This is a great opportunity to advise the customer to help create the requirements. After all, we are cloud backup experts and probably already have a better sense of the requirements than the client. This is not a situation in which we are trying to manipulate the client to highlight only those things to favor our solution. Using Asigra we typically expect we can meet any backup requirement really well, but we need to highlight our solution in the areas that address the key needs of the client. Additionally, there are also situations in which you will find your solution will not adequately address the requirements. It’s better to learn that early in the process and not waste your time or theirs!

Also, seriously consider not investing a lot of time or politely walking from the opportunity if a customer does not have specific requirements to meet, nor interested in engaging you to help them develop the requirements. This will create a situation which may be really difficult for you to differentiate yourself from the crowded market and you are just a “me too” solution.

Once armed with specific requirements you should be well armed to focus your energy on promoting those capabilities your solution can provide. If you know what you are being compared against you can also ask questions which do not favor the competition and helps contrast your solution with others. For instance, if you know encryption is a high priority you can ask the question about who has access to the encryption key because with your solution only the customer holds the encryption key. Different questions may disqualify other solutions leaving yours as the remaining solution because you meet all of the requirements.

There is no silver bullet of course, but I sincerely believe the more you know about a customer’s needs the better the chances you have of winning.

Apr 2014
14

What is Data Deduplication?

Posted by Tricia Santaguida
 

As data volume grows within organizations, IT managers are tasked with making decisions on how to manage anddata deduplication protect their data. In the past, IT staff have been required to purchase more storage or eliminate unnecessary data. Today, they can rely on data deduplication technology to solve the problems of data growth. So why is data deduplication so important? A main reason is because it has the ability to change data management and data protection solutions by reducing the cost of storing and transferring data.

What is Data Deduplication?

Data deduplication, sometimes called “intelligent compression” or “single-instance storage” is a technique for eliminating duplicate copies of repeating data. Data deduplication is an automated process and this is used to improve storage capacity. In backup, it can occur before data is transferred to the backup sever. We’ll learn more about how Asigra implements data deduplication a little bit later.

What are the benefits?

Increased network bandwidth – no copies are needed to be transmitted over the network if deduplication takes place at the source

Faster recoveries – ensures that line-of-business processes continue without interruption

Compliance – you’re able to still have the ability to respond to legal and corporate data storage compliance requirements without storage overload.

Fast return on investment – because you’re buying and maintaining less storage.

What are the benefits of using Asigra Cloud Backup™ Integrated Data Deduplication?

Asigra Cloud Backup identifies duplicate data by looking for the same data queued for backup more than once. All data is compared based on its content, so it does not matter if the files are on different servers or have different names. Initial backup is a full backup. From that point on Asigra Cloud Backup only transmits new/changed data (incremental forever). This results in significant bandwidth savings.

Data compression – the compression ratio achieved with data compression is dependent on data type. Higher compression ratios can be achieved for databases than for image or audio files. Since, compressing already compressed data can increase the file size, Asigra technology has the intelligence to detect compressed files and it skips the re-compression of such files.

To learn more about Asigra and how we can help you with your company’s data deduplication strategies visit Asigra.com for more information.

References:

http://www.examiner.com/article/what-is-data-deduplication

http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/definition/data-deduplication

Apr 2014
10

8 Questions You Should Ask Your Cloud Backup Provider

Posted by Ani Yildirim
 

All organizations need a secure and reliable backup and recovery solution to ensure business continuity. If you can'tclouds recover your data quickly in the event of a data loss, your ability to maintain day-to-day operations could be compromised.

Cloud-based backup solutions provide security and peace of mind, while improving the productivity of your IT team by automating data backup policies and procedures. But how do you get started with finding the right service provider? If you are thinking about moving your data to the cloud, or changing your existing service provider, there are eight questions you should ask your potential managed service provider to gain a better understanding of the security and reliability of their service.

1. Does the service provider fit with the way your business works?

Finding a cloud backup service provider requires a careful evaluation of business-fit in advance. It’s important to check if the service provider has:

  • Experience in related industries and/or business verticals
  • Customers of a similar size and environment to your company
  • Experience helping with data disaster recovery under conditions seen in your business
  • Familiarity with laws and compliance standards within your industry

2. Does the service provider have a good reputation?

Businesses should be attracted to service providers with a good reputation. It provides the assurance that the critical function of backup and recovery will be maintained by an experienced provider. Are their staff properly trained and do they have sufficient experience? Find out how long the company has been in business for and conduct reference calls with existing clients. Customer reviews should support the major benefits and features the company advertises. You should also review any press recognition they have received. Do they have testimonials, analyst recommendations and/or industry affiliations?

3. Can you trust the service provider’s technology platform?

Organizations must ensure that the service providers they are evaluating can meet their current requirements, and potential future changes in their backup and recovery strategy. Businesses are constantly changing, and with data growing quickly, backup and recovery software should adapt to meet your needs. Their backup and recovery service should be built on a solid technology platform and leverage state-of-the-art data center facilities to provide quick and secure access to your data. It is important that the backup and recovery software can protect data on servers, physical and virtual machines, desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, as well as third party cloud-based apps (e.g., Salesforce.com, Google Apps, etc.). They should also support private, public and hybrid cloud models and offer key features such as agentless architecture, file-based and image-based recoveries (locally and remotely), ability to leverage disk-based storage (DAS, SAN or NAS), options for a bare metal restore, deployment as standalone or high availability (NA) N+1 configuration, backup file validation, data reduction through deduplication and compression, and incremental server backups and change block tracking.

4. How secure is their service and storage facility?

Data security is of great importance. You must ensure that your data stays protected and properly encrypted while at rest and in flight, preventing unauthorized access. Remote backup providers should have their security policies ready for review. It’s vital that you determine if the facilities possessing your data meet international standards and are guaranteed both physically and digitally. Make sure their service has been screened and approved by reputable third parties (i.e., government and standards organizations). You need to ask if the service provider makes updated documentation available that details its adherence to:

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256 – in-flight and at-rest data encryption
  • NIST Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2
  • Legislated regulatory standards for your industry (e.g. SOX, HIPAA, Basel II)

5. How are costs determined?

Some of the characteristics that factor into the cost of the service include the total amount of data being backed up, the number of machines that the backup is coming from, and the number of versions of the data files being stored. But what happens if you exceed capacity? What additional charges will occur if your needs change? It helps to understand what is included in the price. Some service providers charge a fixed monthly fee regardless of how much data you send them. Others offer recovery-based pricing, designed to enable organizations to pay for backup and recovery based on the percentage of data they recover in a term. With this new innovative pricing model, organizations will be able to better predict the cost for backup and recovery.

6. What is their disaster recovery plan?

Identifying a procedure for recovering data in the event of loss is crucial. Hopefully you won’t need to recover from a disaster—but if you do, your backup provider must help your business recover quickly. All service providers should have a disaster recovery plan. For example, how many redundant data centers do they have and how dispersed are they? Do they have a second data center so there is no disruption of service and is it far enough away that it won’t be hurt by the same disaster? Even if your provider’s disaster recovery plan protects your data in a natural disaster, they should still be able to operate under extreme circumstances to ensure business continuity.

7. What is the level of technical support?

Ensure that your cloud-based backup provider includes a client support team you can depend on when you need assistance. The majority of service providers offer email-based support but not much beyond that. There must be enough flexibility to find the best restoration solution via chat, phone or email. Does the service provider offer 24/7 support capabilities and support for backup and recovery in different geographies and time zones?

8. What does the Service Level Agreement include?

Does the vendor offer a Service Level Agreement (SLA)? Are the guarantees, penalties and recourse offered in the SLA sufficient? Always read the fine print in your SLA—it is the blueprint for the contractual service obligations of your service provider.

There will always be a service provider available that will meet your needs and budget. It’s up to you to be very diligent when researching service providers. Quite simply, spend some time evaluating the technical expertise of both the service offered and the staff to make sure you are getting the service that you need.

Use these 8 questions to help guide you in finding a Service Provider that best meets your business needs.

Questions? Comments? Send them to info@asigra.com. Get the latest backup and recovery best practices and industry news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Apr 2014
2

Case Study: London & Capital Achieves Excellent Return on Investment with Oncore IT and Asigra Solution

 

London & Capital, an independently-owned wealth manager maintains approximately US $3.7 billion of assets underLondon & Capital management. For years, London & Capital relied on LTO and DLT tape backup hardware and software to ensure the recovery of critical business information. With data expected to increase several fold over the next 2-3 years, the need to invest more in data protection infrastructure was a key issue. Unfortunately, in an attempt to grow its tape backup infrastructure, London & Capital experienced countless difficulties. The anticipated costs and complexity to expand London & Capital’s tape backup environment led to eventually selecting and deploying Asigra Cloud BackupTM delivered through Oncore IT to replace its current tape backup solution.

London & Capital achieved many benefits with the Oncore IT solution powered by Asigra including:

  • End-to-end support of all backup and recovery requirements
  • Encrypted data protection with the highest levels of security
  • Reduced complexity and management requirements
  • Improved disaster recovery capabilities
  • Reduced risk of loss

“The consolidation of our backup and recovery operations has significantly reduced the outlay of time and capital for an excellent return on investment” says Glenn Murphy, CIO, London & Capital. He also notes one crucial advantage in the new backup architecture, claiming they have “been able to refocus [their] IT efforts toward revenue generation in support of the bottom line.”

Read the full case study here

Apr 2014
1

Asigra Saved the Bacon on World Backup Day

Posted by Zaid Rasid
 

Bacon Guide

We had a lot of fun celebrating world backup day yesterday when we released our Bacon Lover's Guide to Bacon. It was our way of saying thanks to all of the diligent IT backup experts who work deep in the trenches of data backup and recovery.

If you'd like to take a look at the guide yourself, you can download it for free below:

http://www.asigra.com/bacon-guide

Mar 2014
28

Asigra Recovery is Everything® Newsletter Recap: March 2014

Posted by Ani Yildirim
 

Asigra Recovery is Everything® Newsletter features great content about the cloud backup and recovery market and news to help you stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends. If you haven’t subscribed by email to our newsletter, you can take advantage of the monthly content we aggregate and share by subscribing here.

Here’s a look at some of the content from our most recent newsletter:

Mar 2014
26

New Report Reveals Portable External Hard Drive Led to Data Loss

Posted by Zaid Rasid
 

In January of 2013 we told you about a data loss event that occurred inside a Canadian federal government officeparliament involving the loss of private data of nearly half a million Canadians. A new report commissioned by interim privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier reveals that data was lost from a portable hard drive that was left unsecured for extended periods of time and lacked password protection and encryption.

As we mentioned in our original post, the breach affected nearly 583,000 Canadians, in particular students as part of the student’s loans program, with missing personal files including names, social insurance numbers, contact information and more.

As has been the recurring theme of our blog, it begs the question of how stringent IT policies are non- existent in institutions where they matter the most? At Asigra, our software is deployed in numerous public sector institutions and is relied on to ensure that critical data is always protected. In fact over the last 28 years of operation Asigra has been focused on providing secure, reliable software to the market through experienced Managed Service Providers who pride themselves on providing data protection to organizations worldwide; with over 1 million end customer sites protected.

External Drives Used as Backup

What’s particularly alarming from these recent findings and from the report published by the security commissioner is that staff at the department involved in the breach were using a one-terabyte hard drive to make a backup copy of student loan program information stored on a central computer to ensure its preservation when that data was being transferred between networked drives. As a company that specializes in cloud backup, it goes without saying that a situation like this should never happen. Many companies cite their fear of the cloud, but in reality they should fear the practices they have in place today especially if they think using an external hard drive that involves manual, human intervention is more secure than the cloud.

Critics Weigh In

New Democratic Party digital issues critic, Charmaine Borg mentions that most government departments tend not to divulge data breaches to the privacy commissioner or to people affected. This is disconcerting news for Canadians.

Having the Right Technology in Place

In addition to policy changes within government departments, and proper personnel training, there are numerous steps both government institutions and private sector organizations can take to ensure that all data is protected. A few to mention:

  • Leverage cloud backup to ensure that your data is stored somewhere safe, and only accessible by authorized personnel through encryption key management
  • Transfer of data following strict NIST FIPS 140-2 AES 256 certification protocols
  • Encryption of data both in flight and at rest
  • Proper password management and rotation
  • And more…

Most fitting, interim privacy commissioner Chantal Bernier says that, “Protecting personal information cannot be ensured by having policies on paper. Policies must be put into practice each and every day and monitored regularly.” We tend to agree with her and having a comprehensive, cost-effective online data protection platform, such as Asigra, can ease the burden of implementing those policies along with the manual efforts.

To learn more about how Asigra and its Partners can help keep your data protected, read more about our security and compliance here: http://www.asigra.com/product/security

Mar 2014
25

Rethinking Backup and Recovery: Business Continuity in the Datacenter and Beyond

Posted by Ani Yildirim
 

Business Continuity planning is a strategic process. It ensures that critical business information will be available andgigaOm protected even in the wake of adverse circumstances or events. However, recovering data when it's needed is a difficult task.

The range and number of data-generating endpoints including mobile devices is constantly on the rise. Businesses have invested considerable resources integrating these data sources into their backup plans, and are starting to deal with the problems associated with backing up third party cloud-based applications. Data protection is worthless if the data cannot be recovered quickly and reliably. Businesses need to overcome increasing costs, poor compliance, compromising business continuity (BC) and many other challenges.

A panel of industry experts will discuss the shifting guidelines of backup in modern BC. Join Marc Staimer, President and Chief Dragon Slayer of Dragon Slayer Consulting, Mike Karp, Vice President and Principal Analyst of Ptak, Noel & Associates and Eran Farajun, Executive Vice President of Asigra as they talk about widespread points of failure and how to prevent them, as well as outline actions to produce a smooth, enterprise-wide BC system that fits overall performance requirements at the cheapest possible cost.

Register for this complimentary roundtable webinar to learn:

  • What does the typical business continuity system look like, and why?
  • What risks do data silos pose to disaster recovery and business continuity, and how IT can work to eliminate them?
  • How should businesses integrate new data sources into a unified business continuity system?
  • How can businesses meet Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives at the lowest possible cost?
  • What are the key concerns when choosing solution partners?

Rethinking Backup and Recovery: Business Continuity in the Datacenter and Beyond

Tuesday April 15, 2014 at 1:00 P.M. EST

Mar 2014
12

The evolution of backup and disaster recovery

 

The following is a guest post from Oscar Arean, Technical Operations Manager at Databarracks

10 years ago when we started business, online backup was a relatively new concept. Since then we’ve watched as theDatabarracks logo backup landscape has evolved and adoption of cloud backup has risen to an all-time high.

64% of organisations are now using at least one cloud based service, up from just 47% in 2012 (figures taken from our recent Data Health Check).

While we’ve noticed a rapid decline in the exclusive use of tape-based backup, down to just 6% last year, what we’re seeing instead is a shift towards the combined use of disk and cloud-based services. And with over 94% of organisations reporting confidence in the effectiveness of their current backup solution, providers must be doing something right.

We’re getting better at recovery

As adoption has risen, understanding of cloud services has naturally matured. 76% of organisations now have a Business Continuity Plan in place or are planning to implement one in the next 12 months, compared to just 37% five years ago.

Despite more businesses than ever having effective recovery processes in place, due to increased awareness and tighter security policies data loss is actually at an all-time low. When the rate of data growth significantly exceeds the percentage recovered over time, it calls for a fairer pricing model for those organisations.

Under standard agent or capacity based pricing models, customers are charged for recovering 100% of their data, even if they rarely need recovery. We’re finding more and more often that IT decision makers are often very willing to switch to a new pricing model for data backup and recovery if making the switch offers savings or technical advantages.

Why pay the same?

A fairer way to price recovery is to link it directly to performance, and the exact amount of data you need to recover.

Performance-based pricing enables immediate and sustainable savings for customers who typically have very high storage needs but minimal recovery requirements. If we don’t offer these customers an alternative pricing model, the cost of backup becomes hugely out of sync with the perceived value of the service.

As an Asigra partner, we’re able to offer our customers the Recovery Licence Model. The RLM allows us to decouple the cost of backup and DR, meaning our customers only have to pay for recovery when they need it. It would be unfair to expect organisations working efficiently to avoid the need for regular recovery, to pay a fixed cost based on their backups.

RLM is really an extension of the principals we are seeing throughout cloud computing. When it is possible to break a solution down into its constituent parts, customers can pay for exactly what they use. Businesses no longer take a dedicated hosted server; they define their exact needs for storage, CPU, bandwidth and get a service that is tailored to them.

As data volumes continue to grow, innovative pricing models like the RLM are going to be an essential way for providers to keep up in an increasingly competitive market.

Mar 2014
10

What is Continuous Data Protection?

 

Downtime and data loss create a painful risk for businesses. Data backup is one of the most important tasks facedData Protection within organizations today. The good news is that technology for data protection is easier and more effective than ever before. Continuous backup also called continuous data protection (CDP) or real-time backup refers to backup of data by automatically saving a copy of every change or version made to that data. It allows the user or administrator to restore data to any point in time.

What is the goal of Continuous Data Protection (CDP)?

The goal of CDP is to constantly backup data as the data is created or modified. So, a solution that features CDP such as Asigra Cloud Backup™ eliminates the possibility of losing data between backup sessions because no time goes by between the backup sessions. A backup is always occurring to protect new data. Unlike tape backup, CDP technology does not require the interruption or scheduling of applications to perform backups. It works continuously to backup your critical data to an alternative server so you can immediately recover data from any point in time.

What are the problems that CDP solves?

It’s not uncommon for a user to accidentally delete a file or for a virus to corrupt data files. These actions leave the data unusable, even though the server or other hardware continue to work as expected. CDP enables you to recover a version of your data to a point in time just prior to the accidental deletion or virus corruption. This earlier version of the data can then be restored to the production environment.

What are the benefits of using Asigra CDP:

With Asigra Cloud Backup, CDP allows unlimited granularity since users can have their data recovered from an infinite number of Recovery Point Objectives (RPO). CDP protected files are backed up whenever they are saved to disk by users at the source computers. It also continuously monitors the changes on the specified target files and backs up the changes as soon as they are detected. Asigra CDP is implemented as a backup option and can be applied to file systems and email backup sets to improve recovery Service Level Agreement (SLA) of critical data. Other benefits of Asigra’s software solution include:

  1. Increase SLA compliance. CDP provides the user with the peace of mind that the latest version of critical data has been backed up as soon as they save it on their hard drive and is available to be recovered.
  2. Flexible RPOs. Traditional backups can only restore data to the point at which the backup was taken. With CDP, there are no backup schedules. When protected data is saved to disk, it is also asynchronously written to the central storage repository (DS-System) or to the Cloud. CDP keeps not only the latest saved version of protected data but also keeps track of the previous versions, allowing data recovery from a wider range of time.
  3. Immediate protection of critical data. Once protected data is saved to disk, it is backed up locally (if local storage is available) and is simultaneously sent encrypted over the Wide Area Network (WAN) to be stored offsite in the centralized backup repository. Backup window and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) are reduced to zero.

To learn more about how we can help you with your company’s data protection strategies visit Asigra.com.

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