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RealTime IT News

Me and My Data Backup Shadow

With a generous amount of its emphasis and clout in data storage, IBM Corp. joined the data backup fray Wednesday with new infrastructure that purports to ensure near uninterrupted access to a business' information in the event of an emergency or equipment failure.

Big Blue's news comes nearly eight months after the tragic events of September 11, but the Armonk, N.Y. firm is confident that its new parallel system, which sits miles away from the data center, will effectively save precious data for banks and other financial institutions. Representatives from the company claim that this "shadow infrastructure", as its been nick-named, can function completely directly after a disaster without a noticeable hiccup.

This "Shadow" service also consists of a controlled site switch for both planned and unplanned outages, and can begin functioning at the secondary site. An example of IBM's new backup service is already in place as financial services firm Pershing has set up a mirrored data center that automatically copies more than 20 terabytes of information between its primary and secondary data centers in Jersey City, N.J.

"Recent events have underscored the necessity to safeguard data -- that's a given -- but if the applications that use the data aren't running, you're not in business," said Roger Schwanhausser, director of storage services, IBM Global Services.

Moreover, Schwanhausser said it's the first time IBM has offered a service that can restore applications and operations from a remote location, miles away from the primary data center.

Data backup is one of those niches that analysts repeatedly tell people is vital, even if it's not glamorous, as companies spend millions on technology that is often only used sporadically, usually in the case of inclement weather. But it is universally acknowledged that the money spent on data backup pales in comparison to the money that can be lost if, say, a bank goes offline and financial records are wiped out.

While it's the major banks and retail outfits that major storage firms fixate on, small- and medium-sized bsuinesses are at the greatest risk of losing valuable data, according to a study by Gartner Inc.

Gartner estimates that only 35 percent of SMBs have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place and fewer than 10 percent of SMBs have crisis management, contingency, business recovery and business resumption plans.

"Many SMBs don't believe they will ever be affected by a disaster the magnitude of what happened on September 11," said Jim Browning, vice president and research director for Gartner. "But the reality is that it's the hundreds of comparatively minor vulnerabilities, such as an e-mail virus or a sustained power outage, that pose the biggest threat to derailing normal operations because of their greater likelihood of occurring."

Since 9-11, myriad storage firms have stepped up business continuity offerings. IBM's entrance on the scene comes a couple of months after fellow storage software competitors VERITAS Software Corp. and Network Appliance Inc. unveiled new backup software offerings.