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Three ways to outsource backups

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Insourced backup services are a popular option for medium- to large-sized organizations. Bringing management resources in-house is easier to implement technically and maintains the status quo in terms of physical data security. Many outsourcing firms can provide onsite staff to manage backups, but a more efficient backup management solution goes beyond supplying people on site. For example, remote monitoring and the expertise of a service operations center can deliver better service at a lower overall cost (see "Outsourcing options: Which one is right for you?" at right).

Small businesses are more likely to opt for online backup services. They offer professional data management and instant offsite storage, which is reassuring to companies with limited or no IT resources. Unlike the other two outsourcing options, online backup data never rests at the same site as the primary storage, an important differentiator if backup data will be used for disaster recovery purposes. The limiting factor is cost--the bandwidth needed to support online backup might be available, but pricing can be high. Most online providers send incremental data over the WAN, so be aware of the amount of time a full restore would take. Online backup providers often mail a disk or server containing your data for a large recovery, which takes time. In general, the pricing structure for this type of service is oriented toward small amounts of data.

The final option, hosted backup services, is limited to organizations that wish to outsource more than backups. Many companies have concluded that they'll receive better service, availability and flexibility by locating their entire IT infrastructure at a managed hosting center. Many of these centers, in turn, offer backup services to their customers. This type of service is typically provided by a third party that focuses on backup services.

This was first published in September 2006

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