My Wish List For Online Backup, Computing Solutions

Current cloud and web backup and continuity could be even more useful, here's my shopping list for mashups, combos and other provisioning against IT mishaps.
Current cloud and web backup and continuity could be even more useful, here's my shopping list for mashups, combos and other provisioning against IT mishaps.Whether it's for an individual end user, like me in my home office, for a small to midsize business, or an enterprise, picking solutions for storage and backup, like computing, face the tension between local and online.

Online means less-to-no provisioning or administration, scaling simply means "pay more," and can be available anywhere there's a computer or smartphone, and Internet access.

But local is convenient, it doesn't depend on network connectivity (or speed or latency), useful for no-Fi airplanes, trains, and other locations where connectivity isn't, or isn't so hot. That's why notebook, desktop and netbook computers aren't going away anytime soon, even if they do travel with us less frequently.

Similarly, for storage, these days, it looks like the answer is, subject to HIPAA or other security constraints, "both." Local storage and backup are faster -- especially for restoring a lot of data, or an entire system. Online is accessible when your computer or office isn't.

Plus there's mugwump solutions, like remote access to the computer or data in your office, and cloned or virtual-machine copies of your computing environment on a flash drive or somewhere in the cloud.

The interesting, good news is that there's a lot of interesting services out there. The challenge -- well, one challenge -- is to pick the right ones, based on what problems you decide you want to solve.

Including trying to not have too many solutions.

And solving the concerns that solutions bring, like, if you do use 2.0 sites and other online applications, what's your backup plan for these.

For backup, for example, more companies are combining local and online to a single program/appliance. Mozy, for example, now offers 2xProtect. So does Ctera Networks (see my news story), among others.

Equally, online backup companies are adding collaboration-type features. For example, KineticD's online backups can also be shared, for DropBox/YouSendIt-type access (as opposed to live "drive-in-the-sky" shared access).

Many companies are also beginning to do the Monster 2.0 Mashup. KineticD, for example, is leveraging the agent software that you install on your Windows or Mac for its backups, to also provide VPN-class remote access to your computer, as a secure end-to-end session, from a web browser, more or less like LogMeIn or Citrix's GoToMyPC (See my blog post) ... now including native access from iPhone and iPad.

Remote access is, of course, only useful if your desktop computer is up and accessible. What if that's not the case?

There's bunches of options for creating a bootable system image or virtual machine to a pocket hard drive, optical disk, or flash drive... but all these often assume you can run them on the computer you're at.

One other possibility: run that virtual machine somewhere in the cloud. Virtuon offers VMware View virtual desktops as browser-accessible cloud-based sessions (see my news story) -- I wonder whether this could be available less expensively -- perhaps through some other aggregator -- for occasional rather than full-time use, similar to the "disaster recovery server-in-the-sky" offerings from Geminare (see my blog post.) Especially if I can point this desktop-in-the-cloud at my files-in-the-sky and/or backup-in-the-sky.

Speaking of clouds and online, backing up data from our desktops and notebooks is important... but what about all our data that is already somewhere in the cloud? What happens if the site's not accessible -- or goes away? Well, there's Backupify, which offers backups for social network accounts and for Google Apps (see my news story).

There's no shortage of useful pieces, or steps towards them.

Now all I'd like is a reliable third party who'll aggregate these for me, with a single sign-on and a reasonable price. And oh yeah, make it easy to synch back to my non-cloud systems.

What's on your IT solutions shopping wish list?

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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author