This article first appeared in "Storage" magazine in the June issue. For more articles of this type, please visit

What you will learn from this tip: No matter which option

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you choose, preparation is the key to successful outsourcing.

Outsourcing, which is common in nearly every business sector, is still viewed with suspicion by many storage pros. Yet outsourcing specific storage processes can improve a storage group's productivity, consistency and efficiency. There are three basic mechanisms for outsourced backup:

Insourcing. Invite a vendor to manage your backups using onsite resources, remote resources or both.

Online backup. Ship data from your data center over a network to an offsite service provider.

Hosted backup services. Move your primary data to an outside data center with a backup service offering.

The suggestions below can help you prepare for outsourcing your backups.

  • Optimize and stabilize your current environment before handing it over to someone else to manage. Some providers will be only too happy to manage a bloated environment, especially if it puts more money in their pockets.
  • Understand the reporting that the provider offers. Is it a Web-based portal, hard copy or e-mail? How often is it updated and how much history does it offer? What attributes of your backups does it measure? Also, be sure that you know what your compliance reporting requirements are.
  • Look for a suite of services that meets your needs. Some are nuts and bolts, some are people-oriented and others are optional.
  • Understand the migration plan. What happens to the old infrastructure, and how will the capacities be increased when needed?
  • Improve the backup process. There's no advantage to having someone take over bad processes.
  • Maintain flexibility with your service provider; your business and data will change.
  • For more information:

    Checklist: How to stretch backup windows on a budget

    About the authors: Stephen Foskett is director of strategy services and Michael Tobin is senior vice president of operations for GlassHouse Technologies

    This was first published in July 2005

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