New Software-as-a-Service options for Data Backups
It’s been a very fast 30-plus days since we last posted here. The Datto conference and training session in New Orleans dished out some new and important features for Business Continuity ( a fancy word for “Is my stuff protected”) and several additional features for backing up things not directly in your network.
First of all, Datto is growing rapidly. They have added a new facility in the Northeast and restructured the business management pyramid in an effort to streamline product delivery and most importantly, technical support response capability. The good news is that Datto still remains the most cost effective and innovative provider of business backup solutions out there and shows no signs of having to do any major price increases for the foreseeable future.
Datto recently acquired a company called Backupify (not a misspelling by the way). Backupify is a HIPPA-compliant, Cloud-to-Cloud backup function covering the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) arena. This company fills a void for user file backups on Google Apps, Gmail, Salesforce and will be adding others as the year progresses. We expect they’ll get eventually to DropBox and a few other similar programs.
Why is this important since most people figure their online files are already backed up? Well, things like Gmail accounts and Google Drive have shared files that get changed constantly, deleted when the user thinks they aren’t needed and so forth. This is a particular problem as more and more business is moving to a mobile file-sharing environment. But the biggest issue with Cloud-based apps is what do you do when you lose files? Google and Microsoft both do a backup of their user’s data but the recovery/restore support options are pretty limited as these organizations aren’t designed to do heavy end user support.
Backupify, on the other hand, will backup Cloud files for the programs they currently cover and that backup goes directly to Datto’s Cloud just like your Server backups do now. That makes recovery and restore functions far, far easier for us to help you with.
Not every company will need this particular service today or even in the near future but eventually, most things will be Cloud-based (think Google Drive as it slowly replaces Microsoft Office). With Exchange and Outlook heading to the Cloud, e-mail backup is crucial to businesses being able to meet legal requirements for e-mail retention, HIPAA requirements and similar regulatory hurdles.
The next item of significance from this conference relates to Client-Server networks where users have laptops that move from the network to mobile status and need to have files backed up or files made available to share (similar to DropBox) but need these items backed up constantly (think laptop theft, damage, crashes, etc.). ..And most importantly, cases where the business needs secure, full control over those files.
This service is OwnCloud and is now included on every Datto Siris. OwnCloud is an Enterprise-level file sync and share application, was created in the Open Source community and has been reworked by Datto programmers to tightly integrate with your network-based Datto backup. Just like any current network-based file recovery we do, OwnCloud can now do the same for Cliented mobile computing.
Unlike DropBox or similar file/data sharing apps where data is in the Cloud but you don’t know where it’s physically stored or how tight the security and encryption might be, OwnCloud stores your files in the Datto Cloud, backs them up to the Datto device and the Datto Cloud.
OwnCloud allows you to be able to do things like control what users can share and what they can’t share, what types of files that they can upload, what types of retention policies you want to put on files, monitor audit trails for file access/changes and makes those files available anywhere you have an Internet connection. That is a level of file control you don’t have available with most consumer-level Cloud storage apps.
OwnCloud pricing is still uncertain at this point as it does increase the storage used with the Datto device but we expect it to be an added Datto benefit for an extremely low price.
Bandwidth Requirements and Choosing an ISP
Here’s an obvious statement… Everybody’s business operations needs faster Internet connectivity and there’s no such thing as enough when it comes to bandwidth.
When we got started in this business, there was no “Internet” as you know it today. A modem got you to a bulletin board where everything was text… no pictures, no music, no video. Then things took off and there was ISDN, DSL, T1, Cable and Fiber and prices dropped as competition increased. Now an Internet connection is a defacto requirement to run a business.
More functions continue to move online and that ups the requirements for business connectivity. Some of our oldest partnership providers in this field have been bought out, consolidated and revamped to be more cost-effective and competitive. Some have done well and provide a very good service while others have not made the cut.
The sales staff from any Internet Service Provider are under more pressure to close the deal and unfortunately, we have seen end users being told wonderful things but ending up with far less than they thought they were getting. To add insult to injury, a bad deal gets a lot worse when you also sign a long term contract for poor connectivity or unreliable service.
There are basically two parts to determining the actual bandwidth of an Internet connection. Your upload and your download are nearly always two different speeds. For example, a sales person tells you you’ll get a 10mbps (megabit per second) connection but that’s not the actual speed both ways. The 10mbps connection is the DOWNLOAD speed but the UPLOAD speed may only be 1mbps.
There is a critical difference between what a home/casual Internet user needs from an ISP and what a business operation needs from that same ISP when it comes to deciding whether what a sales person is telling you about bandwidth actually meets the business requirement.
For example, a 10mbps download / 1mbps upload is great for the casual cruiser as their use is more download by way of video, music, reading and so forth and rarely have a requirement to upload tons of data. So for them, download speed is usually more important to their decision.
A business operation that has an online (Cloud-based) business application like Practice Management, Real Estate or Accounting will have different needs, especially if the business has multiple office users for that application. In the same way, a lot of businesses have multiple inbound connections like Offsite Backup, Remote Access for users or web site hosting for Patient Portals and so forth. So the upload speed is equally important for overall operational efficiency.
In the last 45 days, we have been hip-deep in switching out ISP connections for our clients for a number of reasons. Where possible, we have been able to be the go-between in order to insure the client gets the bandwidth that meets their needs. We are always happy to do this since in the end, it makes our job a lot easier when the right tools are in place and it makes the client happier when things work the way they should.
And always be careful about signing long term contracts based on a sales pitch. You might end up buying something that simply doesn’t meet the best interests of the business.