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Can a NAS solution be used for desktop systems?

This tip introduces a new product that uses NAS infrastructure for backing up remote workers' and desktop users' systems.

Can a NAS solution be used for desktop systems?
By Alan Earls

While everyone talks about the value of data, when it comes to the mobile worker and even individual desktop systems, almost no one does anything about it. According to Strategic Research Corporation, up to 96 percent of all business PCs are not being backed up.

"Although the cost of a PC backup process is easily determined, the value of PC data is difficult to quantify," says Mark Nicolett, vice president and research director of network and systems management, Gartner Group. "As a result, most companies have a policy that obligates employees to store critical files on servers for backup."

Nicolett noted that compliance with this policy is possible for LAN-attached employees, but it requires manual effort, and compliance is not feasible for remote and mobile workers. Furthermore, he added, whether local, remote, or mobile, PC users have a propensity to ignore policies that require "self-directed" data backup. But each time a user loses a file without a backup copy, assuming that the data resides somewhere else in the organization, it costs an average of $161 in user downtime and administrative time to restore that file. If the entire client system goes down without a backup, that figure skyrockets to approximately $786 per incident. And, if the data cannot be restored, then the cost is potentially immeasurable.

One possible solution
To help automate the process of backing up desktop data, Tricord Systems, Inc. out of Minneapolis and Iomega out of Roy, Utah, have paired Tricord's Lunar Flare NAS product with the convenience and familiarity of Iomega's client back-up application, QuikSync 3. Tricord Lunar Flare NAS appliances will now be shipped with a 30-day trial license of Iomega's QuikSync 3 software, which is used on client laptops or desktops running a variety of Windows operating systems.

And, while that might sound like a perfect solution to a troublesome problem, Enterprise Storage Group Senior Analyst, Arun Taneja, has his doubts. "Tricord's solution is a workgroup and small/medium size company play," he says. "In those environments I think they will get a decent amount of traction."

However, he warns, the big issue they will need to overcome is still the simple reluctance on the part of most organizations to do backup from desktops and laptops.

"They all say they know that it is important, but rarely does the customer do it," he says. However users all feel the need to share files. So under the guise of NAS, the Tricord/Iomega approach can also get client backups done.

"I don't see a play in the enterprise, however, where the IT community will probably want to buy a larger NAS box even for divisions -- from the likes of NetApp or EMC or one of the newer players like BlueArc," adds Taneja.

About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer who resides in Franklin, Mass.

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