Remote Possibilities - Page 2

 By R. Paul Martin
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Things have evolved over the past several years. Desktop units that had 30 to 40 MB of storage now have a thousand times that. Server capacity has grown at an even greater rate. The days of mailing 120 MB tapes to a remote vault are over. Remote storage today usually means accessing a Storage Area Network (SAN). Larger firms do regular, enterprise-wide backups to SANs and they do them electronically. In the best of circumstances they have dedicated fiber optic links to their SAN server farm and everything is automated. these large firms also have the personnel needed to oversee and maintain their SAN.

Of course there's a great deal of expense involved in owning your own SAN and making use of it. You need the real estate to base the SAN itself in, and you need to be able to lay that fiber underground -- not an easy accomplishment in some larger cities. Additionally, you need the computer hardware and staff to maintain and operate it. In this expensive scenario you own and control everything associated with your remote storage and the security measures you take are up to you.

Most companies cannot begin to afford this type of solution. But the need for remote storage remains.

Who Are These Guys?
This brings us to the commercial SANs that will provide remote storage of your data enterprise-wide, if necessary, for a fee. This solution brings with it a number of considerations. Foremost among these considerations should be "Who are these guys?"

Anyone who contracts out the remote storage of their critical data to a SAN needs to do some investigating beforehand. Does the SAN operator look like they're going to be around for a while? We all know that shakeouts happen and some smaller companies offering remote storage have already gone under. This consideration may sound odd, but is the price the company is offering too low? If the price looks too good to be true that may mean that the remote storage provider's business model may be flawed and the result could be a big price increase down the road or a sudden notice to get your data off their servers before the company goes down for the final count.

An issue that sparks the biggest concern among many potential users of SANs is actually one of the most easily addressed: What about the security of the remotely stored data in terms of unauthorized access? Reputable SANs offer software that will encrypt the data on your end before sending it to the remote storage facility. If you really want to make sure that you have control of your data's integrity you can always encrypt it on your end with encryption software you're familiar with and fully trust, and then send it on to the SAN.

This article was originally published on Jun 15, 2001
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