The Internet has bridged the global communication gap and, in doing so, has created a technology model that forms the foundation for new ways of doing business. As organizations look for new ways to leverage the power of technology without actually having to own it, we see the continued emergence of storage farms that allow companies to take advantage of leading edge storage technology without the significant upfront investments required to manage the storage. Storage farms, server farms, and storage area networks have all evolved to solve the same Information Technology (IT) requirement - to balance the cost between hardware and system administration with that of system performance (speed and reliability) and network utilization.
A Virtual Storage Farm
Storage farms enable collaboration across extended enterprises by allowing companies, their employees and/or partners to securely access, distribute, and manage business critical information from any Web-enabled device including handheld computers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and WAP-enabled cell phones. The basic tenet of these storage farms is based on the notion that many companies do not have the time or the manpower to manage their data infrastructures. The technology model behind these storage farms is designed to only provide access to information when it is needed and only to users or applications properly authorized to see and/or use the information.
X-drive Technologies' Xdrive Enterprise is one of the many storage productivity solutions available on the market today. Files stored on servers with built-in authentication systems that protect the data from unauthorized viewing. When a user opens a file, the file is automatically "locked" preventing others from having access to it until the present user is finished with it. Once the user has finished with the file, the file is stored along with information about the changes and the name of the user who made those changes. The application can also be set up to notify other users when a "locked" file becomes available for viewing. The Xdrive Enterprise application allows the user's Internet "hardrive" to function just like any other drive on their computer. Prices for the service vary and start at $4.95 per month per user. For more information, visit the Web site at www.xdrive.com.
Access from Anywhere, Anytime
Ibackup, a service of the Pro Softnet Corporation, Woodland Hills, CA, is customizable back up, data storage, access and data sharing solution. In other words, it's another Web-based storage farm that allows authorized users to access business data from anywhere, anytime. The current version supports Internet Explorer 4.0 and above and Netscape Navigator 4.5 and above as well as most firewalls. In addition, the application is FTP ready, so even if a browser-based application does not work on a particular platform, users can utilize an FTP program to access their accounts. The company offers a 30-day free trial with 50MB of space. For more information, visit the Web site at www.ibackup.com.
Another storage farm is I-drive, which also provides a secure storage location that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. And, like the other storage farm applications it allows users to share files and contribute to group projects, whether they're in the office or not. All information sent between the user's Web browser and the I-drive's server is encrypted using 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) -the industry standard in protecting everything from online banking to online shopping. In addition, the idrive's systems are fully redundant and its disk arrays fully mirror the user's data, which means that there is always two copies of all data kept on different disks. This comes in handy as if one of the disks fail - there is still another one with your data on it. For more information on idrive, visit the company's Web site at www.idrive.com.
Driveway, a San Francisco, CA-based company specializing in online file management solutions recently teamed up with McAfee.com, a leading security Application Service Provider (ASP), to create the MobileDisk service - an online file management and storage solution for businesses. The Driveway powered MobilDisk component is designed to allow users to store, access, organize and share files online. The application is equipped with customizable file views, which allows users to view their content online in three different formats, including image thumbnail views. Driveway's applications are equipped with strong security measures at every level of its system including application and infrastructure including storage account login authentication, optional SSL for added file access security as well as option encryption for stored data. For more information about Driveway and its products, visit the Web site at www.driveway.com.
Security is Key to Protecting Your Data
Before you decide to use a storage farm to house your business-critical data, make sure that the application is using the same security features for file transfers that are present in secure credit card e-commerce transactions. It is also a good idea to find out how often the company evaluates and updates its security features and to check out its "infrastructure" to make sure that its equipment is housed in a secure facility. And, using the product on a trail basis is the best way to see if you like the look and feel of it and to find out just how user friendly both the interface and the application really is.