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‘Cloud’ offers businesses a cushion

Remote, multiserver-storage services give firms a safe, economic way to backup essential data

Posted: June 23, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: June 23, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

One of the smartest things a small-business owner can do is take the time to back up company data and files before some kind of emergency, or worse yet, disaster, strikes.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 70 percent of small firms with a major data loss go out of business within a year.

Whether a business is being run with a small network of computers or off individual laptops, the cost of losing business files and data can be devastating.

Without a backup system or service in place, the best-case scenario is that some data can be retrieved — but at what cost to the business?

Cost of failure
The inability to conduct business for several days can be crippling, especially if the business is an online retailer or service provider.

And the cost to retrieve or recreate data or files could run from several hundred to thousands of dollars.

“It could take up to 19 days and $17,000 for a company to actually recreate 20 megabytes of lost sales and marketing company data,” said John Duncan, owner of eSolutions of Santa Clarita.

There are reasonably priced services available for small-business owners, said Joe Messina, owner of The Wildcat Technology Group of Santa Clarita. Setting a business up with a backup service is like buying insurance.

“The return on investment is 100-fold,” Messina said.

Full circle
“Computing has come full circle,” said Brian Cuda, owner of Conceptinet of Santa Clarita.

Computers began with mainframes and all of the computer terminals were “dumb,” he said. Everything was stored on the large mainframe computers, and the terminals weren’t much more than television-like monitors.

As technology evolved, all of the computing is done at each individual PC — though companies often network their computers and have both backup and redundant backup systems in place to protect data and files.

“Now, we are trending back to computers and tablets as doing less work and moving our data storage, and even applications, to remotely managed and hosted servers,” Cuda said.

The cloud
Backing up business files and data on-site is one way for a business owner to protect him or herself.

But onsite backup tapes and external hard drives can be destroyed in a disaster. In that case, the “cloud” may make the difference between survival and failure.

Using a cloud computing service in the event of an emergency or disaster allows a user access to data from any location. All that is needed is a secure Internet connection.

Working on a digital network, the cloud can serve as a remote-site, multiserver storage for a company’s applications, as well as files and data.

“My thoughts on cloud computing is that it is a great tool, providing off-site backup, flexible access options and low cost scalability.” Cuda said.

“Backup is something many companies still don’t do consistently, because it has been somewhat confusing and cumbersome,” said Duncan. “But the new cloud-based systems make everything fully automatic, once they have been initially configured.”

Cloud computing can be used for more than just backup, Duncan said. It can be used for all of a company’s functionality.

Some advanced services use multiple data centers and offer encryption services to protect sensitive data in the event one of the backups was ever compromised. Some services even allow a company to locate and access an email that may have been inadvertently deleted on its local system.

“I have more small clients coming to me who lost everything, even after I told them they needed to back up their business documents,” Messina said.

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