Key Differences Between Server and Desktop Online Storage
Many people are saying that 2013 will be the “break-out” year for cloud storage. A number of factors are pushing online data storage offerings – including file sharing, backup, archiving and more – beyond the consumer and small business market and into big business datacenters.
Below, I’d like to highlight some of the key differences which set server and desktop/laptop online backup and storage services apart, in hopes that this might give you some insight into how the space has developed and evolved over the years.
Desktop Online Backup
In the past, most work was done inside of the office, on company-owned PCs. But in recent years, there has been a dramatic shift where employees are permitted or even encouraged to perform work remotely. The new “digital natives” generation has also entered the workforce with new ways of working, and companies must be flexible in offering collaboration tools in order to attract, retain and maximize the productivity of top talent.
Online backup – in both private and public cloud flavors – helps solve the governance problems associated with having many remote workers. Online backup allows all of the critical business documents which are created outside of the office to be protected and monitored through a centralized system. Gone are the days when employees would wait until they came into the office before transferring their files to the mapped network drive. Proper governance demands that this process be automated and tightly controlled. If someone gets their laptop stolen, at least you’ll still retain your corporate knowledge assets.
Online file sharing is also important for eliminating many of the logistical headaches which came from forwarding email attachments back and forth. Now, everyone knows which document revisions are up-to-date, and mailboxes no longer get filled with duplicate copies of redundant files. Another advantage of online file sharing is that very large files or documents can be shared in a way that would’ve been impractical with email attachments.
Whether you like it or not, employees are going to use online file sharing services. Companies need to be proactive in providing these tools to employees in order to prevent corporate data from ending up on undocumented or improvised file sharing accounts which are outside of the IT department’s control. These kinds of arrangements can raise issues for compliance, security and privacy.
Server Online Backup
In the datacenter, data protection priorities are somewhat different. Servers never leave the office, and their administration is tightly controlled. Here is where the largest and most sensitive data stores reside.
However, manual tape-based backup processes are vulnerable to procedural mistakes and media failure. In the age of rapid data growth, automation is absolutely essential for eliminating risk and reducing backup costs.
Globalization has also caused a shift in the way datacenters are managed. Previously, offices operated on a 9-5 schedule. It was perfectly acceptable to take servers offline at 7 in order to perform a few hours of backup and standard maintenance. But today, the business world runs around the clock. Long backup windows are out of the question.
Additionally, this 24-hour schedule has greatly reduced the tolerance for unplanned downtime amongst companies. A 5 hour window to rebuild a critical server is highly undesirable.
Modern server online backup solutions tend to be more focused on reduction of backup recovery times. This is accomplished through several different means. Sometimes, you may have the option of hosting an appliance for fast on-site recoveries, and other options can even replicate your servers to a public cloud datacenter for on-demand emergency failover capacity.
Another category of server online backup may be more similar to their desktop counterparts, but with server-specific features. For example, you may require special recovery options for email accounts or database tables. Also, the use of hypervisors and virtual machines are creating new backup challenges which server online backup services are particularly well-suited to address.
Finally, cloud storage is perfect for tackling tough compliance challenges. Performing electronic discovery on format-neutral cloud storage is much more convenient than manually sorting through archival storage devices… and the on-demand computing capacity offered by the cloud also makes these discovery searches much more cost-effective.
As you can see, server and desktop online backup options have evolved a lot over the years… and both have grown to become distinct and suited to their own specialized sets of challenges.
By Paul Rudo,
Paul Rudo is the editor at Enterprise Features, a leading IT blog covering many aspects of cloud computing, big data and emerging technology.
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