Product Review: How to fight data archive bloat with software from Connected

Software from Connected that helps enterprises archive and protect data

IT managers dealing not only with legislative mandates to archive data but also with the expense and complexity of managing vast amounts of data are turning to companies such as Connected to help them deal with bloated data stores.

Connected is a leading provider of storage software, which automatically protects enterprise PC data while driving down network storage expansion costs by providing a way to dramatically reduce the amount of PC data and e-mail files that are automatically backed up. This helps ensure that the data is always stored at a fraction of its original size and that customer’s employees can use available disk space while reducing the company's ongoing server and storage costs.

TechRepublic also spoke with one of Connected’s customers, a 100-percent laptop consulting firm that has most of its employees in the field.

Connected was founded in 1995 and made its first product available the following year. Since then, the company has been focused entirely on protecting PC systems and their data. Connected has about 550 corporate customers and more than 1.6 million seats worth of provider subscriptions and licensed software. Connected focuses on serving Global 2000 customers, including Hewlett-Packard, RSA Security, Symantec, Cisco Systems, Paramount Pictures, and Lockheed Martin.

Many IT managers overlook an obvious backup storage location: user PCs. “They don’t look at backing up to the PCs,” Mackowski said. They do lock down PCs and place space quotas on users, then live with the whining when the users outstrip their quota. “And what you end up with is this tug of war going on,” Mackowski said.

Meanwhile, new legislation, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, requires that businesses archive various documents, including that very volatile form of business communication, e-mail. “E-mail is now an all-the-time application, a 24-hour application, a 7x24 application,” Mackowski said.

Connected estimates 7.6 trillion e-mails will be sent this year. That’s 1,200 e-mails for each person living on earth. And many IT managers are finding new legislation will force them to archive that e-mail, along with other documents, and store them for years. “Laws are hitting the books,” Mackowski said. “Laws are trying to hit the books, even as we speak. And those laws are hitting desktops.”

What an IT manager can easily end up with is continuously bloating data stockpiles that have to be stored somewhere. Mackowski stated the obvious question: “How can you do this in a way that won’t increase the amount of in-house storage you’re going to need to store data that is always increasing?”

One way is to not do it at all, and that’s what Connected offers. Connected’s customers can allow their users to save their own e-mail archives to PST files on their desktops or laptops and then back up their own systems daily. This would reduce the load on e-mail and file servers, which would also mean the IT manager would not need to maintain as many servers. This also would reduce the need to continuously grow the server farm for storage.

Connected’s solution is its DataProtector software, Mackowski said. DataProtector captures PC data and safely stores it on Connected’s own servers. The user can retrieve the data any time and for any reason. For instance, if a user were to lose data through a virus, hard drive failure, data corruption, laptop loss, or theft, or because the user screwed up, the user can download a back up any time.

Connected’s DataProtector has been called a “Best Practice” by Gartner and “Best of Breed” by IDC because of the licensed software’s numerous benefits, which include that:
  • Data is backed up to a secure, off-site data storage location.
  • It works alongside any existing archiving system.
  • User accounts can be almost instantaneously added or removed.
  • Costs are regular, predictable, and reasonable.
  • The software, license, and/or subscriptions are simple and fast to implement.
  • The software is easy to use.

It's easy enough even for a user to use, Mackowski said. Even mobile users can dial up from their hotel room to access DataProtector’s services. “They can go take a shower or whatever they want to do,” Mackowski said. “We’ll take care of it from there.”

This benefit of DataProtector is especially attractive to a Connected Customer like Hitachi Consulting, Hitachi IT Director Mike Shisko told TechRepublic. Hitachi is a 100-percent laptop operation with about 80 percent of their approximately 900 employees in the field. Last November, storage problems were more than apparent. “Our Exchange servers were mushrooming out of control,” Shisko recalled.

The IT department tried to get users to save e-mail to PST files on their hard drives, but it soon became apparent that even if users could be trained to save to PST files, that saved e-mail could not be reliably and safely backed up. There had to be a way. Company officials looked around and tried Connected’s product on a 30-day trial. It didn’t take long for Hitachi to realize the benefit of Connect’s DataProtector, and they’ve been customers ever since. “It’s part of every configuration on every machine we put out,” Shisko said.

Employee laptops are regularly backed up and, when necessary, easily restored. Hitachi also has realized a savings in their server room because they don’t have to keep adding new servers to hold the ever-increasing stockpile of data. It’s also easier to inventory laptops and return them to the field faster. “If someone says, ‘Bill was the only person who had that information and he’s gone now and it was on his laptop,’ then we can use the recovery tool to recover that information.,” Shisko said.

In February, the company replaced 670 laptops. This could have been a very laborious task of getting in the laptops to be replaced, downloading the data, loading it onto the new laptops, and then returning the laptops to their field staff. Instead, they got the new laptops in, downloaded the new laptop’s user’s current system back up at Connected onto the new laptop and then gave the new laptops to the users in exchange for their old laptops. “That would have been almost impossible to do without Connected,” Shisko said.

Over all, Shisko said Hitachi is very pleased with Connected. “It’s done its job,” he said. “It’s done it very well. Most of the time, we don’t even think about it. We just know it’s there and it’s there doing its job.”

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