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Open-Source Backup Takes To The Cloud

Looking for an inexpensive backup solution that doesn't treat vendor lock-in as a "feature?" Zmanda's new, cloud-based backup offering might be worth a closer look.

Looking for an inexpensive backup solution that doesn't treat vendor lock-in as a "feature?" Zmanda's new, cloud-based backup offering might be worth a closer look.Zmanda's Cloud Backup (ZCB) offering launched this week. The service consists of two key components: Amazon's S3 data storage infrastructure; and backup software based on the open-source Amanda project. S3 provides an open API that Zmanda uses to link users' data sources with a distributed pool of high-availability backup servers.

How does ZCB differ from proprietary online backup solutions such as those from Symantec? For one thing, it's a lot cheaper: Zmanda's current pricing includes a one-time $50 per server fee and a 20 cents per GB per month data transfer and storage fee.

That includes a basic service-level agreement (which, presumably, duplicates or includes the SLA that Amazon provides S3 users); Zmanda provides higher level SLAs for an additional fee.

According to one analyst quoted in a recent Enterprise Storage Forum article, ZCB will cost most business users around 30 percent of what they would pay for a competing proprietary offering. According to the same analyst, however, ZCB only provides about 80 percent of the functionality you'll get from a proprietary, enterprise-grade backup offering. ZCB doesn't scale as effectively -- it works well for companies with hundreds, rather than thousands, of backed up systems -- and lacks some other advanced features that enterprise users demand.

That's bad news for enterprises looking to slash their storage-management costs. But it's a non-issue for small and medium-sized companies that don't need these additional features and certainly don't want to pay for them.

How does Zmanda's open-source pedigree figure in this, anyway? It boils down to a powerful combination of choice and cost. ZCB is based on open-source backup software; relies entirely upon open protocols for storing, transferring, and cataloging data; and uses Amazon's open S3 API to access a colossal distributed storage infrastructure.

That means Zmanda can deliver a great deal of value at a very low cost. It also means that even if the company fell into a sinkhole tomorrow, you could still get to your data.

ZCB includes some other interesting features, including a highly-regarded backup scheduler and the ability to back up to local disk and cloud storage simultaneously. And Zimanda, like any quality data-backup vendor, offers something no business can afford to do without: peace of mind.

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