Monday, July 14, 2008

Online Backup Services - Six Questions

During my visit to Denver few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk with folks working with online backup and archive cloud services. Some of my impressions from these discussions are interesting and worth sharing. These are based on what I heard from professionals working for or providing services to online backup service providers. These are not result of a full-blown survey, and at best anecdotal. You are welcome to respond to these questions if you like via comments, emails or your own blog post.

Q1: Who are the primary adopters of Online Backup Services?

Individuals and small businesses.
Entities with fewer than a dozen workstations .
Few with a centralized server.

Q2: What was the primary backup method before adopting online backup?

None.
A USB key or USB attached disk drive.
Few with a share on another workstation.

Q3: What was the offsite backup strategy before adopting online backup?

None.
A Floppy, USB key or CD with important files.
Few with a mobile HD.

Q4: What is the subscription and retention rates for online backup service?

High subscription rate.
Very low retention rate.
Most abandoned service within few weeks.

Q5: What are the primary reasons provided for discontinuing use of online backup service?

Excessive use of Internet connection.
Backup takes too long.
Poor experience during primary use of workstation.

Q6: What was the backup method after discontinuing online backup?

A USB attached disk drive.
A NAS device on network.
Few with no backup method.

Summary

Overall, online backup services seems to be a great way to introduce backups to people with no prior backup methods as only few reverted back to no backups after discontinuing use of online backup service. Tape is non-existent in environments that are finding online backups attractive. Despite heightened awareness of online backup service, the low bandwidth connection to Internet continues to be main hurdle in retaining subscribers, a focus on spending limited resources on sales improving or cost reducing services over a fear-based buying decision. A comment I heard was,
I prefer to allocate 50% of Internet bandwidth to VoIP services that reduce my telecommunication cost instead of to offsite backup.