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New Options for Off-Site Data Backup and Remote Computing

(November 2008) posted on Wed Nov 05, 2008

Ensuring the safety and security of your business

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Amazon S3 is a very inexpensive service that provides se-cure storage and data transfer for clients. Originally conceived as an option for hosting bandwidth intensive applications, such as hosted video, it is rapidly becoming a very viable alternative for offsite disaster-recovery backup of critical company data. The prices are extremely attractive compared to most conventional Internet service providers (ISPs) and data centers. As I write this today, anyone can sign up for the service from Amazon’s main page, but the implementation and setup still requires significant technical savvy. You pay based on how much storage you have, how many requests for data, and how much transferred bandwidth you use. There are no contracts, and the fees range between $0.11-0.18 per Gigabyte transferred.

You’ll need help to set the system up, unless you have someone familiar with server and data protocols, configuration, and development. My shop is in the process of configuring S3 for all of our archival backup and company records. Amazon S3 will only be one of several alternative backup options for us.


Cloud computing

I’ve been aware of the need to do offsite backup for quite some time, but, like most companies, my shop just hasn’t gotten around to it. In the process of researching alternatives like S3, I became aware of a much bigger trend that is growing steadily: cloud computing. Cloud computing means Internet-based development and use of computer technology. Within this framework software is provided as a service (Software as a Service or SaaS) that allows users to access sophisticated, tech-enabled services in the cloud without knowledge of, expertise with, or control over the computers, servers, software, data center or the infrastructure supporting them. Cloud computing has long been an awesome theoretical idea, but it’s now coming of age quickly.

Cloud computing incorporates SaaS, Web 2.0, and other recent, well known technology trends, where the common theme is reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users. Google offers Google Apps to provide common business applications (like Google Analytics for Web-traffic analysis) online that are accessed from a Web browser, while the software and data are stored on Google’s massive servers. Some successful cloud architectures have little or no centralized infrastructure or billing systems whatsoever, including peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent and Skype.


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