Hot Site - a complete data recovery solution

June 2004 Security Services & Risk Management

Internet Solutions (IS), together with Attix5 and Dell, have launched Hot Site, a new service aimed at providing users with a complete storage and data recovery solution, which allows them to backup and recover data from multiple sites to multiple sites.

This offering, combining Dell hardware, Attix5 Backup Professional software and IS infrastructure, aims to provide users with a full service, including reliable software backup and storage, from onsite storage to offsite disk-to-disk and online backup, as well as tape-based archiving for older data.

Hot Site features include a process of intelligent data filtering and selection, which prioritises backups and, after the initial backup of all data, only backs up changes in data, thereby decreasing the backup window dramatically. For decreased down time and increased security, redundant off-site storage is also available through a secondary mirror included at IS data centres. In addition, a trickle transfer system, which reduces bandwidth usage by up to 98%, has been adopted to alleviate strain on bandwidth.

Hot Site is versatile in that it supports multiple operating systems, open systems and the databases running on them.

Security in any backup and storage system is crucial, according to IS, which is why Hot Site incorporates two-factor user authentication and is protected by 'bank-level plus' security. This includes 448-bit blowfish encryption, SSL, RSA KEON - PKI and SecurID plug-in, intelligent file selection and version control.

According to Leon Labuschagne, IS general manager, the solution enables companies to leverage their existing connectivity by using this bandwidth to transfer data for storage and backup. This ensures better protection of corporate information, while reducing support costs and relieving ICT personnel of time-consuming backup and recovery activities. Hot Site is based on the IS backup service and has been expanded to include backup-only lines, disaster recovery (DR) hosting space, onsite hardware and project management.

Ian van Reenen, Attix5
Ian van Reenen, Attix5

Operating seamlessly

Ian van Reenen, CTO at Attix5, adds that Hot Site aims to provide companies with the required data protection services that will enable them to continue operations seamlessly after the occurrence of an event that has impacted their operations. "This could range from something as mundane as someone deleting a file to a major disaster such as a building burning down. Hot Site has been designed to facilitate the retrieval of data as quickly as possible after a loss has occurred, while ensuring that critical data has been backed up securely.

Leon Labuschagne, Internet Solutions
Leon Labuschagne, Internet Solutions

"A small Java client is remotely deployed to user devices, which automates the secure backup of data according to customisable file filters and scheduler settings. Data transfer is reduced by as much as 98% by a proprietary patching technique that compresses and transfers only the changed bytes within the user data set. Secure encryption of all data ensures confidentiality, while an intuitive user interface allows users to recover data immediately and from any point in time," he says. "The service includes centralised deployment and monitoring tools that allow ICT managers to customise departmental file filtering and backup schedules, as well as manage and track individual account usage."

"There are many technical challenges associated with data management," adds Brendan McAravey, head of Enterprise Solutions at Dell. "These include the very large file sizes on open databases, bandwidth limitations in terms of cost, quantity and management, as well as the complex network environment and storage architectures in companies today, which require ICT departments to manage file systems without having to shut down critical systems."

Brendan McAravey, Dell
Brendan McAravey, Dell

Notes Van Reenen, "People and information are the two most important assets of any organisation. Protecting information is becoming more important to the viability of the business than ever before. There are three main elements of disaster recovery. These are systems recovery or the recovery of mission-critical technology, applications and data; business recovery or the recovery of business processes and workspace; and contingency planning or the management of an external event that has far-reaching impact on the business."

More corporate data

As the amount of corporate data being generated and stored on multiple devices throughout many organisations is growing at an exponential rate, the complexities of managing this growth have increased in an environment where data loss can be fatal. Research reports estimate as many as two out of five (40%) of business today do not survive a critical blow to their data and information systems. According to Anton Sinovich, of the Menlo Park Europe team at PricewaterhouseCoopers, many companies are entering a crucial phase of the data age without full control or knowledge of the one asset most fundamental to their success - their data. "The value of your business will increasingly depend on the successful management of this asset. Data management is critical to the future of business of all types, and is being addressed at the wrong level, in the wrong place, and in the wrong way across too many corporate organisations. As a result, poor data quality is threatening to undermine massive investment being made elsewhere, in areas from customer relationship management systems to basic systems infrastructure," he says.

"As protection of data and information play an increasingly important role in the sustainability of many of today's businesses, corporate governance reports like the King II (SA) and Turnbull (UK), as well as savvy shareholders, are increasingly calling for the responsibility of data protection to be elevated to that of a board level for these businesses," Sinovich continues. This sentiment has been further echoed in recent legislation ranging from the Interception Act (RICPIC), ECT Act and Promotion of Access to Information Act - that advocate data protection and availability in affected South African companies as a legislative requirement. "Companies that handle data that is critical to their own, as well as other companies in their value chain's sustainability, must adopt a more responsible approach to the precautions they take surrounding the protection of this data or they are going to find themselves liable for its mismanagement."

"Due to continuing falling prices of hard disk storage, performing high volume disk-to-disk backups has become increasingly affordable. This, coupled with falling bandwidth costs, means it has become possible to provide cost-effective and instantaneous data recovery solutions. Companies can now store critical data on disk storage and use tape archives for non-critical data. When compared with traditional tape backup systems, Hot Site can be 30% cheaper and, due to the fact that the data is readily available, restores are now 92% faster that tape backups, which is critical in the case of disaster," Labuschagne concludes.

For more information contact Ian van Reenen, Attix5, 021 880 2323;

Leon Labuschagne, Internet Solutions, 011 575 1000, [email protected]; Brendan McAravey, Dell, 011 709 7700, [email protected]; Anton Sinovich, PricewaterhouseCoopers, [email protected]

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