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Making the case
For Tom Comella, VP of technology and information systems and CIO at Neighborhood Centers Inc., a 101-year-old nonprofit that operates social services from Headstart to senior centers in Houston and surrounding counties, cost wasn't a major concern. "I was more worried about the data being safe. We need to show that we are good stewards of the data," says Comella, an IBM Arsenal customer. He can easily restore a file stored on an Arsenal device at Neighborhood Centers' headquarters.

Currently, IBM Arsenal pushes Neighborhood Centers' data changes out overnight, averaging 400GB, across the Internet to a location in North Carolina. When Comella arrived at Neighborhood Centers three years ago, the organization relied on tape backups, but some of the tapes weren't rotated when the task was left to non-IT professionals at the community centers. When you add in Neighborhood Centers' hurricane-prone location, says Comella, it didn't take much convincing for him to embrace a new data protection strategy.

"The first [online] backup [to Arsenal] took quite a bit of time--a weekend," he says. "Now it's only backing up things that change. They have a nice GUI interface and if they have a problem, like they don't get a good backup, they call and let us know," says Comella. "The point is that they do check [and call]."

Jenny Lorenz is

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IT director at the Linn Area Credit Union in Cedar Rapids, IA, and a Seagate Technology EVault customer whose IT shop is just outside a 10 square-mile radius that was flooded following severe June rainstorms. One of her locations lost power for a few days and an ATM machine was submerged in the floodwaters. For Lorenz, the benefits of sending her data far away to a dry location are pretty obvious. In addition, her industry requirements were met without heavy lifting from her strained IT staff.

"Seagate's EVault is SAS 70 certified," which is an independent verification that the company has a stable control environment, and "that was a selling point," she says. Before negotiating her SLAs, Lorenz determined which volumes on a particular server made sense to back up and those that didn't. "They charge by the gig and we didn't want to back up everything over and over again," she says. When testing the product, Lorenz found she could schedule backups throughout the day so she didn't have to tax her Internet connection during peak hours.

With Seagate EVault, she gets 24/7 monitoring and notification, a standard offering among most SaaS vendors; however, EVault doesn't offer user trouble-ticket integration, according to the recent Gartner report. In comparison, EMC's Mozy allows tickets to be created through 24/7 customer service, while IBM's Arsenal can integrate with a customer's trouble-ticket systems.

Perhaps what draws users to a remote SaaS firm is the built-in DR that comes with the service. During the flooding in downtown Cedar Rapids, Lorenz was running her EVault product through a routine annual restore test. "It went well," she says. "We've been able to restore backups remotely, use browser technology transmissions of direct deposits and access the data we need." The credit union's servers are 10 miles away from the flood zone and a nuclear facility is also 10 miles away. Says Lorenz: "Theoretically, we could go anywhere in the country if we needed to get away from a disaster, and I could manage the data."

This was first published in August 2008

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