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Gartner: 2005 hurricanes prompt more companies to store data off-site

IT managers are also more willing to consider the use of third-party storage services

December 1, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The number of companies making copies of data to protect it has dramatically risen in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Wilma this year, but most of those companies are keeping that duplicate data locally where it's still vulnerable to disasters, according to a survey released yesterday by Gartner Inc.

The September survey of 104 North American IT managers showed that 45% of respondents back up or replicate data to another disk, up from just 6% who did so in 2004. But 70% of the respondents who make backups do so to a local device.

Adam Couture, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, said that if companies hope to truly protect their data, they have to electronically copy it to an off-site facility either owned by the company or a service provider.

Dale Caldwell, a systems programmer at Grange Insurance Group in Seattle, said that until a year ago, his company performed nightly tape backups that took four hours to complete and stored the tapes at an office in another part of the city. But after 9/11 and a recent spate of natural disasters, regulators pushed the company to establish disaster recovery plans that include off-site data replication.

As a result, Caldwell chose to replicate data between a virtual tape library (VTL) in his main data center and one in an off-site location in Spokane, Wash. -- 230 miles away. He is using a VTL controller from Bus-Tech Inc. in Burlington, Mass., to store and retrieve mainframe tape data sets, eliminating most of his tape infrastructure.

"The [off-site replication] has been really wonderful. There's a lot of time savings to it," Caldwell said.

Caldwell said the disk-to-disk replication knocked two hours off his nightly backups and allowed him to trim the time needed for data restorations from two hours with tape to 45 minutes with disk.

Christopher Varner, chief technology officer at DDJ Capital Management LLC in Wellesley, Mass., said he is considering a move away from tape backup to an electronic backup scheme using an online data backup and recovery service from EVault Inc. in Emeryville, Calif., and protection services from SunGard Data Systems Inc. in Wayne, Pa.

DDJ Capital plans to install a backup storage server on its LAN running EVault software for regular backups to restore deleted files locally. The firm also plans to have a duplicate backup server making copies over the Internet to a SunGard data center also running EVault.

"This enhances our disaster recovery capabilities and also makes backups easier for my staff," Varner said. "No more taking tapes home every night or dealing with the hassle of rotating our tape library in the bank safe deposit box."

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