by Jim Zimmerman

Remote and branch offices have become the focal point of both innovation and competition in the storage and networking industries. The remote office data protection segment is gaining momentum as the amount of structured and unstructured data residing outside organizations grows. Although remote and branch offices face challenges such as scarce resources, security hassles, etc., a number of small and large players have tackled the data protection problem with multiple approaches and technologies. The competition in this market is intensifying, with next generation data protection startups such as Avamar and Asigra giving traditional backup and restore players, such as IBM, Microsoft, and Cisco systems, a run for their money by playing on better technology.

Microsoft’s entry into this segment with its Data Protection Manager (DPM) and Distributed File System Replication (DFS-R) technology has certainly increased competition. Strong brand recognition, lower cost, and the familiarity enjoyed by its Windows OS make Microsoft one of the most favorable choices for remote office data protection. However, we believe that Microsoft’s lack of compatibility with non-MS platforms might impede its growth prospects. Therefore, in the long run, Microsoft might need to position itself as an integrated data protection vendor.

Enterprises do not want to be integrators of the hardware and software required for a remote office and are generally more interested in bundled ROBO solutions. These integrated solutions are likely to improve the mobility of branch office and remote workers, thereby emphasizing the importance of bundled ROBO solutions. We believe that catering to this need of an integrated solution provider will likely help players in the data protection market to further gain traction in the market. Moreover, to succeed in the remote office data protection market, vendors should offer products that address the need for platform heterogeneity (i.e., functionality over various operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, etc.).

The remote office data protection segment might witness an evolution of different technologies. We believe that end-users can expect better automation and superior WAFS that can help in overcoming remote data constraints. The market can expect better integration of content management with security products to overcome certain remote challenges like security issues, retention problems, etc. We expect storage virtualization to make deeper inroads into the remote office data protection market.

Organizations are increasingly setting up remote offices as they realize the growing importance of storing data in remote locations.

Remote offices are overburdened with many challenges. Factors such as scarce IT resources, lack of control, length recovery time, etc. are impeding the growth prospects of data protection techniques in these locations.

The remote office data protection industry is still developing. Avamar Technologies and Asigra are some of the promising data protection providers that are giving tough competition to the established players in this domain such as Cisco Systems, IBM, and Microsoft.

Our partners at Analysts Perspectives present an overview of perspectives, observations and predictions about the adoption and utility of data protection techniques in remote offices.

Some key findings include the upsurge in the number of remote and branch offices due to mergers, acquisitions, etc. has subsequently led to an increase in the amount of corporate data outside organizations; organizations experience numerous challenges in data protection for remote offices due to poor application performance, slow file transfer speeds, high Wide Area Network (WAN) bandwidth costs, etc.; and experts propose different measures and techniques for remote office data protection depending on the organization’s structures or requirements.