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7/15/2008
09:33 AM
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Backup Wars at HP: Tape v. Disk

The question is not if you should back up your business data, but how. There's no shortage of vendors out there trumpeting their solutions, be in tape or disk or hosted, as the best option for cost, ease of use, regulatory compliance or myriad other business needs. Sometimes the vendors even compete with themselves.

The question is not if you should back up your business data, but how. There's no shortage of vendors out there trumpeting their solutions, be in tape or disk or hosted, as the best option for cost, ease of use, regulatory compliance or myriad other business needs. Sometimes the vendors even compete with themselves.Recently, I spoke with David Rogers of HP about the advantages of disk-based deduplication solutions over tape backup options.

More recently, I spoke with Bob Conway of HP about the advantages of tape-based backup solutions over disk backup options.

And just to ensure that I wasn't neglecting anything, I also looked to Howard Marks' story about how to choose an online backup provider.

It's nice to have choices.

I asked Conway about tape v. disk back up, mentioning Rogers citation of efficient disk space usage (made affordable by declining prices), quick access and retrieval for regulatory compliance or other purposes, elimination or reduction of tape handling costs, and the efficiency of consolidating backups in a single location. To which Conway replied:

"David is correct."

More on that in moment.

The dual value prop of tape -- regardless of the announcement from HP and Sony today about the latest generation of the DAT/DDS tape format -- rests on low cost and high-reliability. Though DAT may be old enough to evoke VHS/Beta analogies, the venerable status make the technology accessible and simple.

According to Conway, the DAT 320 (which will be available in 2009) won't be a huge leap in cost from the current DAT 160. Current cost $849 plus $36 per tape cartridge. The typical customer buys six tape cartridges, putting the cost to get started not far past the $1,000 mark.

HPDAT160

Okay, so it's affordable and doesn't break, but what about disk? And what about David being right?

It all comes down to market segment, according to Conway. The entry level prices for disk is $6,499, a bracing expenditure for companies that don't have a backup solution in place -- the first time buyer is indeed the target for the tape solution, as Conway said, of tape;

"This is last line of resistance for people who maybe haven't been backing up and business that have data doesn't change so often that you can have daily or even weekly recovery points... This is a very low investment option for fledgling companies."

The questions a business should ask before evaluating backup solution are pretty simple according to Conway.

  1. How much data
  2. How often does it need to be back up?
  3. What's the budget?

The answers drive the solution (simple, right?). And though, his product is positioned as a price-conscious option, he took pains to note the greater strategic consideration by pointing out that the cost of the backup solutions pales in comparison to the cost of losing valuable business data.

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