Small to mid-sized businesses can always benefit from any IT enhancement that will save both time and money. Unfortunately, many SMBs are not able to get the benefits from IT that they need, chiefly due to lack of resources and expertise. For that reason, many SMBs are exploring the Software-as-a-Service options that are now available – these options cost less and are run by experts. Symantec is gearing up to deliver online backup as a service – specifically designed for SMBs – later this year.
Capabilities that are delivered via the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model (sometimes called “online services”) are provided to end users over the Web, rather than software that is installed and maintained in-house by the customer. With SaaS, a vendor (or other service provider) owns, hosts, manages, and updates the software so that customers need not implement or manage software applications themselves, but can rely on experts to do it for them. Customers pay for SaaS on a subscription or per-use basis, which simplifies budget planning, reduces upfront costs, makes payments more predictable, and lowers total cost of ownership. This allows SMBs to eliminate many of the overhead IT expenses and operational concerns commonly associated with traditional software products. Also, SMBs using SaaS will never have to deal with an IT infrastructure that has become obsolete over time.
Despite all of its benefits, some SMBs are hesitant to make the move to SaaS applications. Why? Many are resistant to change what is working for them; the “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” kind of thinking. Other SMBs worry that their unique business needs can’t be met by a new SaaS solution – that the solution will be feature-poor or unreliable. Still others are afraid the transition to SaaS would not be smooth, and that the vendor won’t be available to help (or worse – that the vendor will not be around in a year or two!). Finally, another common obstacle is that businesses worry about the security of their data when it’s hosted and/or stored offsite by a vendor.
Many SMBs are finding that data storage and data availability are evolving into major IT headaches – security is a concern, maintenance costs are high, infrastructure grows quickly obsolete, and, most important, there is the need to maintain compliance with an ever-growing list of regulations and rules. According to Graham Penn, Storage Associate Vice President for analyst IDC, “You can't ignore the increasing requirement for compliance. Storage as a service really needs to be on the list that people consider."
Setting up a solid backup and recovery infrastructure tends to be not only expensive, but also a daunting and time-consuming task for SMBs. All too often IT teams don’t realize there’s a problem with their data protection solution until they try to restore data from tape backups or archives, only to learn that the data is corrupt, unavailable, or unusable. That is why SaaS backup and disaster recovery offerings can be an ideal solution.
For these reasons, Symantec recently released a new online service platform for IT protection called the “Symantec Protection Network.” The Symantec Protection Network is being developed to deliver comprehensive protection to SMBs by boosting their IT infrastructure via a wide range of web-delivered services. The first of many planned online data availability and security offerings to be delivered is Symantec Protection Network - Online Backup Service. The backup service is currently in beta testing and is set to officially debut in late 2007.
The Online Backup Service is an on-demand data backup and restoration service that can be utilized from anywhere through a web browser. Data is always encrypted using a sophisticated 256 AES encryption mechanism via a secure customer-specified private password and securely transmitted to and stored in Symantec-operated data centers. While Symantec stores the data – in Symantec secured data vaults - Symantec does not have access to the data itself – the encryption is under the complete control of the customer.
According to Jeff Hausman, Symantec’s Senior Director of Product Management, “The service will completely protect all files that have been selected for backup – it intelligently collects all changes to a file – and only the changes – and sends them, fully-encrypted, to be backed up, The data is actually encrypted on the client side. It will take regular snapshots, it knows what’s in the machine and it can detect an opened file if you close it. It’s always-on protection.”
It’s simple to set up the Online Backup Service, and there’s no need to buy new hardware; only an internet connection is needed to walk through the Service’s online configuration options. After that, users can browse their data files, select data to be protected, and specify other backup settings such as backup windows, or whether you use incremental or continuous backup. When data needs to be restored, administrators or users can use the online browser-based interface to securely browse and select files for restoration. Users doing restores only have access to those files in which they have permissions for based on Active Directory settings. These files are then securely transmitted back to the SMB’s servers.
The Symantec Protection Network - Online Backup Service is priced on a “pay as you go” basis, which is determined by service and capacity needed. This means SMBs only pay for what they use, and they will never have to worry about expired licenses or support contracts again.
SMBs require the same high levels of service reliability and data security as their enterprise counterparts – but that isn’t easily achievable due to the costs and time associated with managing assorted IT elements. Software-as-a Service offerings enable these businesses to focus on their core business rather than IT and security related concerns.
Symantec, a leader in data protection, will soon be able to deliver the secure, proven technology these organizations demand in a highly economical online business model via the new Symantec Protection Network, with services tailored to meet the security and availability needs and budgets of SMBs. The Online Backup Service is the first of many planned technologies to be delivered through Symantec Protection Network. When the Online Backup Service becomes available in late 2007, SMBs everywhere will be able to enjoy reliable and secure online backup and restoration of critical data in a cost effective solution that takes away the time and headaches associated with managing it in-house.