Could online storage be recession-busting tech?

18 Dec 2008

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Cork-based BackupEarth.com is one of a growing community of players offering Irish businesses online backup and data recovery. Ken Healy is its chief executive.

How does storage-as-service work?

It is effectively an online resource. A company simply goes to our website, downloads the software and the security certificate as part of a three-week trial and can then back up one gigabyte (GB) of data immediately.

We are aimed specifically at the business market and, in these tough times, are priced competitively at €1 per GB of data a month.

Your data is backed up to a secure hosting facility. If you have 1,000 computers you want to back up, you can. If you want to store more than 20GB, we charge 12 months in advance.

If you need to recover any files or data, you simply log in and download what you need. In terms of economies of scale, if you use over 225GB, the tariff drops to 60 cent per GB a month.

How secure is the service?

When you sign up for the service, you get a security certificate that sits on your computer. This means only that computer can access and download the files.

We use military-grade AES 256-bit encryption. We are regulated by the Data Protection Commission as a collector and processor of data. As the information is encrypted, we cannot access the data – only the customer with the security certificate can.

Where did you find the inspiration for the company?

Our parent company is Solstice Control Systems, a software company involved in providing ink-control systems for printers. We realised this was a high-value, high-end technology, but with limited demand. We didn’t want to depend on just one product.

We looked at the skill sets in our company and decided to innovate and complement our offering with a low-cost but high-value, wide-market product. This can reach out to everyone, from individuals to SMEs and large organisations.

With our in-house capabilities, we developed a product that would complement future revenue streams. As we are in an economic downturn, now is the best time to sell low-cost products with high value.

So far, 50 Irish businesses, from financial brokers to technology and medical devices firms, have subscribed to the service.

Are Irish firms ready for the cloud computing revolution?

Until now, firms in our space have not had a good history. They were unable to fix the price, so they shook people’s confidence. Businesses today don’t want to be struggling with backup tapes and disks. With the advent of broadband, online backup is more secure, automatic and cost effective.

Businesses focused on reducing costs and simplifying their IT are looking seriously at this.

Cloud computing will dominate over the next decade and, in 10 years’ time, will be integral to how we run our lives, even if we’re just buying a can of Coke from a vending machine. You won’t have to carry cash.

The way the economy is going, every firm needs to embrace technology to survive. Businesses that don’t embrace technology into the heartbeat of their company won’t be around in five years’ time.

By John Kennedy

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com