WAFS helps with weightier matters

Online backup has its limits. Wide Area File Services blows them away, as we explain in part two of our series on remote office backup strategies.

Online storage's advantages are obvious as a remote office backup tool.

But as Kaz's Ian Hocking points out, the solution is currently tuned for smaller businesses without dedicated storage appliances. The solution can cope with server-attached storage but is first and foremost a tool to safeguard PCs' C:drives.

The online approach is not, however, entirely inappropriate, as storing data entirely offsite is the essence of a backup solution using a Wide Area File Services (WAFS).

WAFS solutions involve the creation of a single namespace to cover all of a business' operations, including remote offices. While remote users save their files it feels as if they are accessing a local storage resource, but the reality is that their data is transmitted over the WAN and stored in a central facility.

Frequently-used or recently-accessed files can instead be stored on a local appliance that collaborates with headquarters to implement WAFS , or even on server-attached storage running WAFS software.

Graham Schultz, Brocade's ANZ Country Manager, advances WAFS as a sensible remote office solution thanks to its low administration requirements for remote offices - WAFS policies are established and administered remotely and arrange transmission of remote office data without user intervention is another plus.

One weakness of the WAFS approach is its reliance on reliable WAN links, and the potential to choke a WAN link during a large restore operation.

EMC's Clive Gold suggests one way around this is to understand that even when using online solutions like WAFS, other technologies have plenty to offer when you restore.

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck," he says, suggesting that sometimes it is easiest to rebuild a drive or appliance and ship it back to your remote offices!

Tomorrow: Software secrets

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