Thursday, April 17, 2008

Online Backup: 100% Install

My last post Online Backup any different from Traditional Backup for Laptop/Desktop? was quickly turned in to us vs. them argument by Beth Pariseau in her blog post Blog dialogue: Online vs. traditional backup. I guess my curiosity and conversation starter about slow adoption of online backup didn't come across clearly.
… Gupta probably has “too much” experience with backup clients to necessarily see things from the SMB customer’s point of view. For him, installing a backup client isn’t a big deal–for some, it might be enough of a reason to let somebody else deal with it.
Initially, I thought about pulling Tony on her. On a side note, I wonder why Tony spills coffee every time Hu sneezes.

More I analyzed her statements, more I realized her opinions most likely resulted from what she heard as a storage news writer and from whom instead of her own experiences. Keywords like SMB are a good giveaway whom she is listening to. Not many practitioners try to segment customers with mile-wide brush. ;-)

Lets start with addressing her installation related concerns. Do online backup services magically appear and start working on your laptop/desktop by themselves? No, someone has to download and install them. Only backup clients that come pre-installed on your system are the ones that don't require install. As I understand, there are two main backup clients available that don't require installation and readily available to users, one provided by Microsoft with Windows XP (Windows Backup) and other one provided by Apple with Leopard (Time Machine).

Lets add configuration of the backup client to the part of "difficult to install" equation. Configuration of Mozy Pro [PDF 46 pages] and Windows Backup [Web page - 6 pages if you decide to print], are available online for your review and comparison. Of course, Time Machine is so simple to configure that even someone like me, who misunderstands backup needs of SMB according to a marketer, implemented on MacBook without instructions. BTW, AppleInsider article Road to Mac OS X Leopard: Time Machine is a good overview of Time Machine.

You be the judge how difficult each one is to install and configure.

As I wrote in my comment on Beth's blog, my intention is not to promote one method over another, just to show similarities and question the current implementations. Hopefully, these posts are setting the stage for future opinions and conversations that will help improve current BaaS offerings and develop new ones.

More to come.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Online Backup any different from Traditional Backup for Laptop/Desktop?

Recently, Beth Pariseau wrote in her blog post HP unveils unlimited online storage for SOHO market that bandwidth is one of the hurdles in adoption of online backup services.
Like most online storage offerings to date, this offering is small in scale and limited in its features when compared with on-premise products. Most analysts and vendors say online storage will be limited by bandwidth constraints and security concerns to the low end of the market, with most services on the market looking a lot like HP Upline.
Though, it is a validation of my thoughts expressed in blog post Bandwidth, one hurdle in adopting Cloud Storage, I am not totally convinced of bandwidth being the root cause of limited adoption. There may be something else hindering adoption of online backup services.

Recently, Scott Waterhouse, an EMC blogger also has been discussing the virtues of Mozy, an online backup service (acquired) by EMC. I agree with his argument about the challenges of traditional backup clients in post Mozy as the Future of Backup.
Big business has a lot of data on laptops and desktops. Traditionally, installing backup clients on these systems has been costly, full of headaches, and generally causes more problems than it solves. The consequence of this is that most folks just don't protect them.
Is Mozy client any different? Is there any difference in installing, configuring, using and maintaining traditional backup client versus Mozy client on laptop/desktop? Nothing, I noticed after reading his posts.

My intention is not to pick on Mozy or Scott but there is nothing unique in most Online Backup Services that couldn't be in traditional backup for laptop/desktop. At least traditional backup also come with peace of mind that all backups are stored on company's own infrastructure. In last few years, I tried over a dozen online backup services in addition to putting up with traditional backup clients for laptop/desktop and I don't see much difference among the two.

IMO, most online backup services are just taking existing on-premise backup strategy for laptops/desktops and repackaging it to run backups to somebody else's infrastructure instead of your own. What do you think?