Compliance Leads Small Shops To Online Backup
August 10, 2015 Dan Burger
Small IBM i shops often wrestle with the same demons and dragons as enterprise-class businesses. The rules are the same and size does not matter when the opponent is regulatory compliance and privacy laws. There’s no leniency when it comes to data security. Because of this, many small shops are examining their tape backup policies, often devised with no thought toward security, and taking a look at online backup options.
Data protection comes down to getting the data encrypted and then stored at an off-site, secure location. Without a mandate to protect the personal information collected, data handling would not be scrutinized and some risky procedures would continue unnoticed. But by making changes to reduce risk, the cost comparisons between tape and online backup sometimes gets made and, in many cases, the picture looks better for online backup.
“Before compliance, the small shops weren’t interested in the benefits of cloud,” says Jon Snyderman, owner of JS Business Solutions, located in suburban Boston, Massachusetts. “Many were 8- to 10-hour-a-day shops with no worries related to backup windows. And five years ago the cost of high-speed Internet was thousands of dollars per month.”
Now the cost of Internet bandwidth is cheap and the 10-hour-a-day shops are rare because workers access their systems remotely at all hours of the day and night.
Snyderman has worked with IBM midrange shops since 1989. For a long time he was solidly behind traditional tape backup and highly suspicious of online tape backup alternatives. Tape was reliable and it allowed companies to be in complete control of their data. Five years ago he started investigating online backup options.
“Most of my customer base is small to midsize companies and I found most do not do backup properly. They don’t pay attention to it the way they should. Their data is not secure, it’s not stored off site, and it’s being done as cheap as possible regardless of risks,” he says.
Along comes compliance regulations from the likes of HIPPA, PCI, and state privacy laws and these small companies have to be more watchful of their data. They can continue to do tape backups while adding encryption and secure storage, but that adds to the cost. When that happens, the door is open to consider online backup and recovery.
The cost/benefit equation is worth noodling. The biggest benefits are reducing the backup window, eliminating the purchase of tapes and tape drives, and the management costs associated with tape.
A small shop that’s dependent on tape typically has costs associated with a small tape library, IBM’s Backup Recovery and Media Services (BRMS), and tapes. Operations include annual maintenance agreements, cost of off-site storage including transportation, plus the administration and management.
Based on those parameters, Snyderman came up with $40,000 to $50,000 of tape-related costs over five years. As Snyderman says, this is “to do tape the way it needs to be done” according to compliancy mandates. He also notes that at the end of five years, it starts all over with re-acquiring hardware and beginning new maintenance agreements.
“The cost of tape drives on a new system can be removed when online backup replaces tape,” Snyderman says. “The cost savings there can pay for the online services for a year and sometimes more.” He figures the minimum cost of an LTO 5 external tape drive to be $6,000.
It’s often the purchase of a new system that triggers a deeper dive into the topic of online backup. And the single-socket Power S814 machine, by far the most popular system sold into the IBM i customer base from the current Power8 generation, does not have an integrated tape drive. So online backup is a natural thing to think about now.
Cost comparisons and potential savings are mostly conversational fodder, however. Snyderman says there’s a single point of focus and its compliance. That’s not to say benefits such as a reduced backup window and a diminished administrative overhead aren’t appreciated. Operational efficiency carries some weight in the decision making process. Reducing risk is also a factor. That’s where the wild card called trust gets played.
“I still feel that trust, or lack of trust, in turning over data to a third party is a valid concern. It’s one of the biggest concerns small businesses have,” Snyderman says. “Companies are concerned about where their data is going and how do they get it back.”
Snyderman’s company partners with Storagepipe, a Canadian vendor that owns datacenters in Toronto and Texas.
Storagepipe has been backing up IBM midrange servers since 2001. The process involves installing a local appliance server on the IBM i. The installed backup software has access to all of the system resources while providing local backup functionality. Storagepipe combines this with data replication to off-site backup in one of its datacenters. This approach results in a local copy and an outside copy.