Imation Moves SMB Backup Online

Imation hopes to capitalize on the growing market for online backup services — and its half-century of expertise in storage media — with a new offering launched today.

Imation’s DataGuard Vault online backup and recovery service is aimed at small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and remote and branch offices (ROBOs) that are looking for a secure, easy way to protect their data. The service automatically secures files and transfers them off site to a data center through the Internet or private network connection.

The service will benefit companies and remote offices that don’t have the on-site expertise to properly secure their data, Imation said.

Greg Schulz, senior analyst and founder of StorageIO, said the market potential for such offerings is “in the billions,” reaching everything from “the mid-market down to the low end of the SMB or high end of the SOHO. That’s quite a wide market swath.”

Schulz notes that the initial players in the online backup space — the dotcom-era storage service providers — were wrongly focused on large enterprises, which had neither the need nor the inclination to outsource data protection. But with smaller businesses struggling to cope with post-Enron data protection and retention regulations — and data protection and networking technologies maturing to make backup services a viable option — “the timing is right for those providing managed data protection services for SMB, ROBO and SOHO environments,” said Schulz.

That opportunity has in recent years attracted the likes of Iron Mountain, Seagate and IBM — and now Imation.

An Imation spokesperson said the company sees “a real need and an opportunity here, particularly for small businesses who are not currently backing up properly. Heightened awareness and requirements for compliance and discovery of data is one factor driving SMBs to consider an online remote backup service. Over the past few years, the market price for this service has dropped dramatically to make it more cost-effective for SMBs.

“We feel that by combining backup and recovery services with class-one data centers managed by Imation, a brand trusted for more than 50 years by leading data centers, will help customers know their data is secure.”

Imation charges a monthly fee of $15 to $20 per gigabyte of compressed data for its service. The software resides on the customer’s network, behind the firewall, where data is compressed and encrypted before it is electronically sent to the off-site vault. The customer owns a unique encryption key to ensure that no one outside the organization will be able to decrypt and read the data. The data remains encrypted and compressed in flight and at rest on the vault.

After an initial backup is performed, the service provides continuous data protection (CDP) or event-based real-time backup of changed data to eliminate the possibility of data loss. It also features de-duplication technology to save space and money.

Data is transferred to “class one” data centers, with distant replication sites, both with round-the-clock network and vault monitoring, facility access, video surveillance and a host of other protections. Disaster recovery suites are also available.

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