IBM rolls out cloud-based backup, recovery and archiving services

A set of new cloud-based backup services from IBM lets government agencies and companies save, restore and archive important data in the event of a disaster or major system failure.

The company's SmartCloud Resilience services compliment its SmartCloud Managed Backup offering. The new service, which will be released in July, is a virtual and physical server recovery service that constantly backs up an organization’s applications and related data on IBM’s secure cloud infrastructure. According to IBM, the service allows an organization to be back in business minutes after recovering from an outage in its IT infrastructure.

The new services have two parts, SmartCloud Virtualized Server Recovery and SmartCloud Archive. The virtualized server capability is designed to eliminate business downtime and minimize data loss. It includes a portal to allow clients to remotely access the system on IBM’s recovery infrastructure in the event of an outage. It operates by continuously replicating both server software and related data.

SmartCloud Archive is designed to provide advanced search, indexing, retrieval and e-discovery capabilities. The archiving service also includes a document and records management system to handle structured and unstructured content while meeting privacy and regulatory compliance regulations.

Although the initial offering is primarily directed at private companies, federal, state and local governments can take advantage of the service, said Rich Cocchiara, IBM’s chief technology officer for Business Continuity and Resilience Services. State and local governments can especially benefit because they have the same requirements as businesses when it comes to saving and backing up information. “A lot of small government agencies don’t have a huge number of servers” or the ability to constantly back up their data, he said.

IBM’s new service backs up data customer information in IBM-run data centers. But government organizations would have a greater need for security and data separation, Cocchiara said. For this class of customers, IBM would take precautions to separate data for federal and state agencies separately from its business customers’ data. However because every organization has its own specific needs, the separation and security requirements would have to be worked out on a case by case basis, he said.

The SmartCloud Archive feature already conducts data segmenting for its business customers. However, this segmentation would be even greater for government accounts, Cocchiara said.

Another important part of the service is tiered backup/virtualization support, which allows an organization to vary the amount of backup it needs. “One size does not fit all,” Cocchiara said.

For example, an organization with business-critical, 24/7 data needs will have very different backup and recovery needs from an agency with less time-sensitive requirements. Tiering allows companies and agencies to provide virtual backup to a certain number of key servers while providing more periodic backup for less critical systems in the infrastructure. Tiered service “lets me choose what service I want at each tier,” he said.

Although the SmartCloud offering is rolling out next month, Cocchiara is already looking at potential new enhancements. Among them will be the ability to support Linux, Windows and AIX servers. IBM also will support competing platforms based on customer requirements, he said.

Feedback from test customers indicates a need for additional archiving features. Future updates to the service will allow organizations to index and file information for legal discovery. Another possible feature is e-mail archiving, Cocchiara said.

The SmartCloud Resilience service is being rolled out globally in July, although the exact release date will vary from country to country.

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