Government // Mobile & Wireless
Commentary
10/2/2009
12:01 PM
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Zmanda Still A Great Pick For Cloud-Based Data Backups

Zmanda is beefing up its cloud-based backup service, making it an even better deal for small and medium-sized businesses.

Zmanda is beefing up its cloud-based backup service, making it an even better deal for small and medium-sized businesses.Zmanda uses open-source Amanda backup software -- one of the most highly-regarded tools of its type, including both proprietary and FOSS products -- with the Amazon S3 cloud-storage infrastructure. The result is an extremely compelling online backup tool that costs far less to implement than competing products from companies such as Symantec and EMC.

This week, according to an Enterprise Storage Forum article, Zmanda will introduce new features designed to make its service even more appealing to SMB users. The company will add cloud-based backup support for MySQL and Microsoft SharePoint, in addition to its existing support for Windows file server data and system-state snapshots, SQL Server, Exchange, and Oracle, among other applications.

A new selective restore feature will give users the ability to recover individual files rather than entire directories. Zmanda has also added Windows Security Certificate support, and users can now select the geographic regions where they want backup data stored -- a major concern for European firms that must comply with strict consumer data-privacy laws.

Zmanda also offers what looks to me like a very good value: A flat fee of $4.95 per month buys backup services for an unlimited number of servers, along with a pay-as-you-go $0.20 per month data-storage charge.

Zmanda has clearly positioned itself to compete in the small-business market; its price and service comparisons, for example, often cite Mozy, which is another online backup service targeting SMBs. Based on that comparison, Zmanda and Mosy are very comparable services based strictly on price.

Zmanda, however, can retain backups for up to one year, allowing companies to restore much older files if necessary. Mosy only retains data for 30 days, making it a much less useful option for companies that need a more extensive data-backup trail either for business reasons, or to meet legal or regulatory compliance requirements.

Finally, always keep in mind that your company's ability to access backed-up data independently of a provider's service is a very important issue. Online backup services that control access to your business data through either proprietary software or closed data-backup formats are a recipe for trouble; if the service goes belly-up, you may be out of luck.

On this count, Zmanda very clearly does the right thing: It stores backed-up data in ZIP format. Combined with a long and growing list of business-friendly features, that makes it an excellent option for cost-conscious SMB users.

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