It's an axiom in IT that no one ever gets promoted for doing backups. However, plenty of people have gotten fired...
when their backups have failed to restore the corporate jewels in times of need. Something like 15% of all servers currently deployed are backup servers. So backup is perhaps the second most critical IT server function after messaging services.
A good backup regime attempts to create multiply redundant protected copies of the data, with as little difference between "live" data and what's contained on backups as is possible and economically feasible. It's a good idea to back up remotely, something most companies do by replicating their data. Replication, though, is both expensive and not always up to date, but it does meet the requirement of having your data off-site. The problem with replication and backups in general, is that often it is not very up-to-date because most technologies can't perform hot backups on active files like Oracle databases or Exchange messaging stores. For those backup programs that can do live backups, expensive add-on modules must often be purchased.
One approach you may consider is "backing up" your backups by engaging a vaulting service. Just as one example, Iron Mountain, the $2 billion vaulting company performs this service for documents; and has recently entered into an agreement with LiveVault to provide digital services. You can read Iron Mountain's white paper on electronic vaulting at: www.ironmountain.com/File_Uploads/Resource_Items/USA/489_0_SecurityWhitePaper010902.pdf, and LiveVault also has a white paper accessible after a sign up from their home page. (LiveVault has a similar arrangement with HP.)
There are many such services that are now available. You can find many of them by going to Google and entering vaulting services as your search term.
Be careful about security if you choose to use a vaulting company. LiveVault's service, for example, is provided over a VPN and is managed by LiveVault. It has the advantage of backing up live files such as databases and messaging files using a technique that the company has patented. You might want to consider exploring this approach for your most mission critical data.
Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.Editor's note: Mention of products and/or services in this tip is intended for illustrative purposes only, and does not imply a recommendation of such products and services.