What SMBs expect from backup software

Lack of staff resources means SMBs need storage products that easy to understand and use

Small and midsize businesses would rather chew tin foil, an industry pundit says, than spend money on enterprise backup software that is little suited to their needs. Deni Connor recently talked to George Symons, CEO of Yosemite Technologies, about what SMBs really need in backup software.

Why don't enterprise backup packages like Tivoli Storage Manager suit the needs of SMBs?

If you look at the difference between an SMB and an enterprise, generally within an SMB's IT department you either have fewer people or at a minimum you don't have people with specific storage specialization or storage knowledge, so because of that you need a product that is easy to use. A lot of the factors change dramatically -- in an SMB performance isn't critical, but the ability to easily install software is. To be able to start the software up, make it do what it should and let it keep running is the most important factor.

Do SMB backup packages differ from enterprise ones in their ease of use and installation?

Ease of use is number one. Taking the complexity out of a product is actually one of the most difficult things to do. I've worked with a number of enterprise products and the thought has always been, "We can make it simple, we can take out functionality and it will be easy to use." That's not really true -- you have to build ease of use from the ground up. It's not just an intuitive GUI, but understanding and thinking about what defaults to set, how to figure out what the environment is so you can completely automate the processes. It's that automation that is so much different than in enterprise products, and you can successfully do it because the complexity of the environment is so different.

Is there also a difference in the price? I heard someone say that an SMB would rather chew tin foil than spend a lot of money on backup.

I have heard that, too. There is an absolute difference in price. If you look at an SMB environment that ranges from a SOHO to a 100-person organization, the cost is going to be widely different across those. Just looking at a basic backup server you can see differences of 10 to one. So SMB software needs to be significantly less expensive.

Is the notion that users can retrieve their files important in SMBs?

It is important. It goes back to the point of limited IT resources. You don't have someone who is dedicated to backup and recovery, let alone to managing storage. So if I need to recover files, there is no one to go to. For that user, self service becomes critical. If a server crashes, clearly IT is going to do the recovery, but if it's my user files, I want to be able to recover them myself. If I'm a mobile user, no one wants to help me, so there really does have to be self service.

It would seem to me that SMB customers would be more comfortable with disk-based backup than they would be with tape. Is that true?

It is true for a couple of reasons. They are more comfortable with it because they already have disk in the environment and again, tape adds an additional level of complexity. But it is also just the management of it. A lot of SMBs will be happy with just a backup on a local disk, and that's a risk they take in not having an offsite tape archive. So they are not even worried about taking tapes offsite to protect them or tape rotation policies or the complexities of managing tapes. For SMBs disk is very applicable. We saw it catching on in SMBs even before that of enterprises for just those reasons.

What about continuous data protection (CDP)? Is that technology desirable in SMBs or remote offices?

Continuous data protection is important but not in the same way. From an SMB perspective, block-based CDP is not a requirement. They are not interested in every transaction and write to the disk being protected immediately. File-based CDP is of interest because what it really is versioning. We have found that versioning is of interest in the SMB market, particularly for protecting user files. Their needs around applications are not that different than in the enterprise in the sense that they need to protect their Exchange and SQL servers. They don't need CDP to protect those servers though.

How do hardware requirements differ for the SMB for backup and recovery?

If you look at the enterprise, you want a big server running the backup. In an SMB, you aren't going to want to spend that money and will likely want to run multiple applications, including the backup on a single or lower-powered server. Thus, one of the requirements for an SMB backup package is that it doesn't use a lot of CPU or other resources since its going to have to live with other products.

Is performance a requirement?

Not necessarily. SMBs would rather live with 80 percent of the performance as long as the software runs consistently. In an enterprise you want to get maximum throughput and performance.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Deni Connor

Network World
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?