Near ubiquitous connectivity has expanded the digital universe at a major cost to the environment. Huge amounts of money are being invested in data centers and these server farms are driving up the demand for energy and other resources. Yet, some experts estimate that only about 70% of the data stored by enterprises in the cloud is ever accessed!

It is estimated that the average utilization rate for a networked server is between 5-15 percent and between 20-40 percent for a non-networked servers. In brief, many companies are paying high-energy costs while only utilizing a fraction of their capacity.

Going Green with Block Level, Global De-duplication

Today’s green IT initiatives are pushing the technology industry for change. Block level de-duplication is an efficient method of minimizing the impact of data storage on the environment. The basic concept of block level de-duplication is that it reduces the amount of redundant data that is being stored. Storage requirements for multiple copies and variations of a file are significantly reduced by a process that discovers and logs exact duplicates across files and only stores the block once on disk. Files are then reconstructed by the backup system at restore time. Block level de-duplication can reduce network storage and bandwidth usage by up to 30% by achieving a 3:1 native data to compression/de-duplication ratio.

Operational costs of storage are high. As a result, these costs are a prime candidate for green computing optimizations. Different storage platforms have different attributes and these attributes impact performance, security and power utilization. Take for example tape libraries. These appliances are expensive to operate and require that tapes be physically moved and stored offsite in a climate controlled archive center. This is both costly to your budget and to the environment.

Inline block level de-duplication is a pre-process de-duplication technology that reduces data size before it is sent over the wire into storage. Minimal disk space, lower power consumption, and less cooling requirements, ensure that block level de-duplication adheres to green computing initiatives. Disk based de-duplication eliminates the need for tape usage and offers benefits such as reduced transportation costs, data security, better recovery time objectives (RTO), and improved recovery point objectives (RPO).

ROBOBAK is a complete “green” cloud based data protection solution for the Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) backup. ROBOBAK is designed to empower MSPs, VARs, and corporations to create public or private cloud based backup solutions.

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Let’s face it, no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes because it’s just human nature. This also holds true for data backup because no matter what processes you have in place, things will go wrong. This includes forgetting to run a critical backup, mistakenly losing a tape or DVD or simply not monitoring backups at all.

Human error can be eliminated all together by using the correct offsite backup solution because your data protection would happen automatically without human touch. You would never have to be worried again about forgetting to run a backup, physically moving a tape offsite or purchasing and maintaining expensive hardware and software.

Taking Human Error Out of Backup for Small Business

Other benefits of cloud based offsite backup include protecting you and your organization against disgruntled employees by keeping your data encrypted, improving cash flow by paying monthly for the space you use and the cost savings of eliminating the need for an expensive IT agent.

Let’s face it, you as a small business owner already wear enough different hats and worrying about your data is the last thing you should be focused on. You need an all in one, set it and forget it, cloud backup solution that provides automatic schedules, encryption, compression, and deduplication. ROBOBAK is this solution. Let a professional Managed Service Provider (MSP) running the ROBOBAK solution alleviate this headache by providing you the reporting, security and peace of mind that your data needs. As Edward Murphy would say: “If anything can go wrong, it will”.

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Those dreaming the dream of unlimited online storage forever and ever just got a rude wakeup call.

A Gartner analyst says companies offering unlimited online storage are “already doing things like bandwidth throttling to help control the volume of data being stored and limiting the types of files you can backup,” according to a Computerworld article. And a major provider of online backup services says it will no longer offer unlimited plans, moving to a tiered pricing plan. That, according to PCworld.com, “destroys” the “dreams of essentially infinite online storage.”

The downfall of the great unlimited cloud storage era is good news for local and non venture capital backed managed service providers (MSPs), for whom unlimited online storage had become a competitive nightmare.

Is Unlimited Online Storage Going the Way of the DODO Bird?

MSPs lost business to these companies or, at the very least, were only able to act as resellers for them. The costs of building out a managed online storage infrastructure were prohibitive under the unlimited storage scenario, especially when all the big companies were offering the same services at a fraction of what MSPs could sell it for without losing their shirts in the process.

But now, if the major name vendors are moving to tier-based pricing models, that makes it possible for local MSPs to compete for the backup business. And the local guys have an advantage in going for the business that the big guys can’t possibly hope to match: the local guys already know their community and know their customer base, and can deliver a far more personalized level of service that meets their customers’ individual needs. All of this, while providing them with software that solves their challenges and of course enables them to make a solid profit as well.

At ROBOBAK, we have excellent relationships with a number of MSPs throughout North America and beyond, and it’s obviously in our best interest for these MSPs to succeed. MSPs who have deployed ROBOBAK to their customers are able to deliver a full range of benefits, such as cloud based live Exchange and SQL data protection, agentless backup and restore and deduplication. Plus, unlike some of the bigger venture capital backed MSPs, local MSPs are able to tell their customers, “here’s where your data is being stored, and here’s who’s storing it.” Don’t underestimate that last point; trust builds relationship and provides peace of mind.

To be fair, several online backup companies still offer cheap, unlimited, flat rate cloud based storage, but the real question remains, for how much longer? ROBOBAK is pleased to say that tier-based pricing is where our channel partners have been all along.

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You’re probably wondering what to look for if you’re a small or medium-sized business looking to make the switch to an offsite cloud backup model. To determine if cloud backup is the right solution for your small business, consider these five points before making the move to a offsite cloud service provider (SP):

Benefits versus cost
Cost plays a big part in most decisions and cost will come up when you are considering moving your backups to the cloud. To start the process, I would suggest choosing three service providers (SP) that you feel comfortable with and performing an analysis of their costs compared to their benefits. Factors that should come into consideration are, length of time the SP has been in business, does the SP offer a no-obligation trial, does the SP have any hardware/security accreditation and most importantly does the SP keep at least two copies of your data in two different locations?

Redundancy
Redundancy, which is now practically standard at this point, is also a very important requirement. Backend redundancy gives you an extra layer of protection by keeping at least two copies of your data in two different physical locations operated by the service provider (SP). This protects your data in case of the unlikely event that the SP’s data center experiences a catastrophic disaster such as natural disaster.

Bandwidth limitations
It is not a well known fact that many low cost service providers (SP) will limit their upload/download speeds making your backups/restores slower during peak backup times. Some SPs even go so far to limit the file size that you can upload! To avoid these restrictive SPs, I suggest reviewing the SPs Terms of Service, which is usually available on their web site, or posing them the question.

Data encryption
Data encryption is a requirement for anyone looking to utilize a cloud backup service provider (SP) because you will never want your data going over the internet without being encrypted. Without encryption your sensitive data could be read as if it was in plain text! The majority of SPs use standard encryption algorithms. With this being said there are still two important questions that need to be asked. The first question to ask is if your data is encrypted BEFORE going over the internet and does your data rest encrypted in the cloud. Both questions are important to ask as they will guarantee your data’s security.

Local backup copies
Most offsite backup providers allow you to keep any number of backup generations in the cloud that you wish, as long as you pay for them, but what about local backup copies? Local backup copies are useful for fast restores and as a second protection point. Ask your service provider of choice if local backups are offered and at what price.

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For 20 plus years, many businesses have been backing up their data to tape. Tape backup was the most efficient method of backup of its time and stayed this way until fairly recently. As time progressed, it became apparent that tape backups were becoming obsolete and that a better solution was needed. Disk based cloud backup solutions were the answer and eliminated the hurdles associated with traditional tape backups.

Why Choose Offsite Cloud Backup Over Traditional Tape Backup?

What were the problems associated with traditional tape backup?

The biggest and most time consuming job was managing the tapes after a backup was performed. This required either yourself or another employee at the company to spend valuable time, changing, storing and rotating the physical tapes at backup time and even trying to find the correct tape at restore time!. If a company had multiple locations, this job became even more cumbersome. To add more difficulty to the problem, tape backup users would also be faced with verifying the data on the tapes, physical tape corruption or damage (all tapes will eventually fail for a fact), running regular disaster recovery exercises and the element of human error. We didn’t even mention the cost associated with tapes, tape loaders and other expensive software and hardware required to run a tape based backup solution.

Advantages of disk based cloud backup

Offsite cloud backup has many advantages over traditional tape backups including cost savings, reliability and speed. Remote offsite cloud backup centers running ROBOBAK provide today’s businesses a safe and reliable method to protect their mission critical data from the most common elements of data loss which include backup media expiration, human error, theft, and major natural disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes etc… The ROBOBAK Offsite cloud based backup solution provides users with peace of mind knowing that their data is safe, encrypted and replicated allowing users to sleep better at night.

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As time progresses, more and more backup applications (including ROBOBAK) are becoming Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) aware. VSS is a technology developed by Microsoft that allows a backup application to safely backup locked and open files. VSS works by creating a snapshot of the entire drive and then provides this information to the backup application so that the application can utilize the snapshot.

Volume Shadow Copy is supported on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows 7 and above. Both the backup application and software application must be VSS aware to utilize VSS to backup open and locked files. Legacy applications tend to NOT be VSS aware, forcing users to find other methods to backup those open and locked files. Other options to backup open and locked files include open file drivers and Pre/Post scripts to shut off/start an application before and after backup so that the data’s integrity is guaranteed.

Some VSS Limitations:

– Only supported on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7 and above.
– Only local disks are supported.
– Windows XP only allows one shadow volume to be created per drive at any one time.
– The software program that created the open or locked files needs to support VSS.
– The Microsoft Volume Shadow Service must be enabled in the O/S.
– The machine must have devices that are enabled and associated with the Volume Shadow Service.
– The system must have an NTFS partition that must exist on an internal drive, with at least 100MB of free space for the shadow copies.
– The drive that contains locked files must have free space available.
– VSS can fail if there is too much disk activity.

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Very few people actually realize how much data they are storing on their local computers. What would happen if your computer crashed or got a virus and all your data was lost? Would you miss it? Many of us never think to backup our data until it is lost.

Users that do perform regular backups usually store copies locally or in the same physical location on a CD/DVD/USB/TAPE. This type of backup is a good start, but if something were to happen to that computer, disk drive or location, all their data, including all their backups would be lost.

To avoid having this happen to you, it is important to not only backup your data locally but to also have a copy of your data offsite in the “cloud”.

What is cloud based backup?

Cloud backup is different from Cloud Computing. Cloud backup refers to a remote data center, where your data is stored and protected from unforeseen events, like natural disasters, viruses or even hardware malfunction.

Why use cloud backups?

1. In the United States alone, businesses lose an average of 12 Billion per year due to data loss.

2. 70% of businesses that have had major data loss, go out of business within 24 months.

3. Having your data encrypted, conforms to regulations such as HIPPA.

4. Hard drives have an average life span of 3–5 years.

5. All CD/DVD disks will fail

The ROBOBAK Cloud Backup Solution provides a very simple approach to cloud based data protection. ROBOBAK will give you peace of mind knowing that your data will be available anytime and anywhere you are, by simply using your web browser or Executive Backup Client agent to restore a file(s) no matter where you are! This will ensure that you’re always protected because as Murphy’s law states: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”.

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As we celebrate the ending of 2010, we would like to embrace the opportunity of wishing all of our partners a safe and joyous holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

This past year has been a very successful and exciting year for our team. 2011 will be a year filled with excitement and major strides for technology, innovation and new partnerships. 

Happy holidays from the ROBOBAK Team

On behalf of the entire ROBOBAK team, here’s to a wonderful end of the year for all, and we look forward to continuing successes with you in 2011! Cheers, The ROBOBAK Team

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If you didn’t believe all the noise about cloud computing in the enterprise before, perhaps the latest news will help you change your thinking.

A new survey from Morgan Stanley reveals that 70% of CIOs questioned plan to move some, or all, of their infrastructure to the cloud in 2011. That’s almost twice as many as those who answered positively heading into 2010.

Moving to the Cloud

The 451 Group estimates that the cloud-computing market will grow to $16.7 billion in revenue by 2010, with a projected CAGR of 24% over the next three years.

The Revere Group predicts “consumers will also drive growth of this technology with their continued rapid adoption of smart-phones and tablets, which increasingly rely on cloud computing for their email and other application services.”

And that doesn’t even count Google’s forthcoming Chrome OS, which runs entirely in the cloud.

I’m proud to say that our data protection solution, ROBOBAK, have been at the forefront of this movement for many years. From our perspective, it simply makes sense, and has for quite a long time. If you’re a company with multiple locations, the ability to safeguard your data offsite is a virtual no-brainer. Depending on the sensitivity level of your data, you could store that data in a public cloud, a private cloud, or use a hybrid approach. In any of the three options above, your integrator/reseller/solution provider can help you figure out which is best for you.

This trend is only going to grow. Recent data from IDC shows we’re saving everything…because we can, and (in many cases) because the lawyers increasingly say we must. So we need a place to store the data that can easily grow with our rapidly changing requirements. That place, obviously, is in the cloud.

A couple of quick caveats: as you’re setting up your cloud storage infrastructure, make sure you work with your provider to establish an easy-to-follow and concise disaster recovery plan. The last thing you want is to suffer a data disaster, only to realize you’re not quite sure where it is or how to get it back. Also, make sure that you know what data you need protected and that these files are actually being backed up (See the following Blog piece from Dec 9, 2010 titled: [“Protecting what is near and dear to my wife, her pictures”] to find out how ROBOBAK template backups can help).

All off this is happening in the cloud. It’s a place where ROBOBAK has been for several years, and we’re pleased to see that the market is finally catching up.

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Thanks to the relatively recent development of Deduplication technologies, US DataVault is not only more efficient for our Clients, but more profitable as well.

For the newcomer, Deduplication eliminates redundant backup and archive data at the client before sending it across networks to servers and storage. Users can easily extend deduplication reduction globally, across thousands of clients having different retention requirements. This all adds up to shorter backup windows, lower management costs, and more robust, reliable data protection. Typical benefits of Deduplication include:

– Cut backup window by finishing jobs faster.
– Transfer significantly less data across the network.
– Maximize data reduction by deduplication data globally across hundreds of clients in different locations with different protection policies.
– Easily and cost effectively scale out with open systems hardware.
– Cover both small and large data sets in remote offices and large data centers.
– Cost efficiency
– by reducing the data footprint, storage costs are cut, sometimes dramatically, with no loss of recoverability on any piece of data.

Deduplication is frequently viewed by some data managers as a quick fix for complex protection or recovery issues arising from rapid data growth, shrinking operating windows, and very aggressive recovery SLAs. Those who use deduplication as a band-aid, especially in form of an appliance, quickly realize they have only temporarily addressed data reduction on disk because as it grows, they face additional hardware and operational costs as more and more appliances must be pressed into service. But more important, administrators most often find they have made NO impact on reducing backup times or overall costs.

Almost always there is a significant gap between the short-term fix to explosive data growth and achieving REAL and meaningful improvement. Improvements that are found in higher performance, smaller operating windows, faster recovery, lower costs, scalability, security, minimized management, and relative ease of use.

Real improvement requires an approach that is not an afterthought, but rather an integrated part of any data management solution. Thanks to ROBOBAK’s deduplication initiative, USDV was among the early providers of backup services to offer fully integrated deduplication in a single software solution, with NO required hardware.

ROBOBAK’s leadership in this area, expands deduplication benefits to address real bottlenecks by bringing efficiencies as close to the source as possible. The current version of US DataVault Backup Pro uses deduplication as a means to reduce data thus using fewer network resources, dramatically shortening backup windows, and eliminating the lock-in associated with appliance based approaches.

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