Watching your remote back(up)

Your corporate headquarters has all the big iron needed to secure your data. But what about your remote offices? In this new series, we explore the different techniques you can use to keep your remote office securely stored.

The online option

For an IT crew hunkered down at head office, it can be tempting to think that the really important data is the stuff created, manipulated and stored at head office. Remote offices, the argument goes, are either customer -facing, process-driven or some combination of the two that means they do not create much of real value to an organisation. So while remote offices are the 'back' of your organisation, watching your back can seem unnecessary.

Many remote offices are therefore the poor cousins of corporate IT and lack rigorous backup regimes. Dedicated storage hardware is scarce and IT staff are a rarity. Restoring data often means a call to headquarters, rather than a local operation.

But these days that is dangerous thinking as remote offices are taking on ever-greater responsibilities. Armed with creativity-enhancing productivity applications, remote office workers are taking the initiative and authoring the documents they need to get things done in the field, making reliable access to files important.

Many remote offices also rely on local mail servers and, as few escape the trend of email becoming a de-facto storage location for all manner of data, therefore require solid protection of this data too.

Local accounts teams are contributing to overall finance efforts. And distributed sales teams are filing their CRM data into central systems. This kind of effort also appreciates local storage, lest WAN problems make it impossible for them to access data describing their own work in progress.

In all cases, these remote staff need access to the data they have created with the same urgency as someone located in head office.

How to protect them?

According to Ian Hocking, Group Manager for Emerging Technologies & Solutions at Kaz Group, the first approach to consider is PC-based backup that automates the transfer of files from PCs to a data centre.

"We find that a significant proportion of corporate data is stored on a PC," Hocking says, citing IDC data that asserts 60% of a corporation's files reside on C: drives.

Kaz's solution is to install software on a PC that sends any changed files to its data centres, which are fronted by a web interface facilitating restoration of data.

Hocking advances this solution as a hardware-independent backup and restoration solution that works for businesses large or small.

"If a customer's PC is stolen they can acquire a new PC, re-install our agent, re-enter the cryptography key and restore their data," he explains. "Or we can burn a disk and post it to them if they like."

Kaz says its solution can be applied to a server too, to help remote offices where servers run applications and used are also used for general storage?

Tomorrow: Weightier matters

Read more on Storage management and strategy