Ask a room full of IT workers how to transfer data, and you’ll likely get a sudden craving for a childhood favorite food. Modern data-transfer protocols have names you would just as likely find jumbled on a spoonful from a steaming hot bowl of alphabet soup.
Hardy protocol staples such HTTP/S, FTP, SSH and a number of others help companies move different kinds of data around the Internet. Depending on the application, you can typically choose a particular protocol from the pile of letters with little hesitation. But file replication and off-site backup frequently deal with a high volume of data that would take too long when just using an Internet connection and would quickly fill up the finite bandwidth between two points.
Think of it like this: you can conceivable drain a swimming pool with a soda straw, but who has time—or the lung capacity—for that?
The parcel still stands out as a simple, useful solution for moving bulk amounts of data on seed drives from your client’s locations to your off-site data center. In the modern age of IT capability, it’s an odd option to consider, but it’s a useful one in a number of circumstances.
Companies turn to off-site backup for replication of local data sets and external backup sites. The faster they can achieve parity, the more effective and reliable a service will be. If you have built out plenty of bandwidth and are storing more-modest data sets, then one of the alphabet-soup transfer protocols should work just fine to get your base image data seeded to the cloud.
Other situations may necessitate one of the more modern digital methods of transferring data. Increasingly, companies have become spread out, with main decision makers in different locations. Many of these organizations are subject to regulatory statutes that mandate compliance with specific time periods for information to reach certain parties as well. In these instances, digital file-transfer protocols are more than the go-to method. They’re essentially the only viable options companies have to transmit information quickly and in line with regulatory standards.
If the documents in these instances are smaller in overall capacity, the issues pertaining to network slowdowns that come with replicating entire local data sets are unlikely to apply. So whenever organizations find themselves in a position to transmit smaller files that need to be at a certain location promptly, the parcel isn’t the right choice.
Larger data sets usually demand something more, though, and teams need to answer these two questions before choosing one method over another:
- What protocol will get data from one location to an off-site target server as fast as possible?
- Can your local network handle moving massive data sets and disk images without affecting users and other applications?
Whatever you do, you can’t hinder your local network. That’s never been a good idea. Your company needs to stay online, get work done and continue to serve customers, after all.
Pardon the pun, but thinking inside—I mean outside—the box, parcel protocol may be the most expedient option for your company. Using traditional parcel services may give you flexibility to move as much data as necessary in a timely and cost-efficient way.
Of course, it would be foolish to think nothing bad could happen to a drive in transit. It can be damaged, lost, stolen or delayed while that data is physically on the move. Take the necessary steps to make your drives safe. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Encrypt your drives, and the data on them. Keep a copy of the data at the source while the seed drives travel. Pack them to protect them from the shocks incurred in transit. Use a tracking number, insure the shipment and employ a professional alphabet-soup courier service.
Backup vendors spend a lot of time and money ensuring their technology works precisely as needed. They also need professionals with logistics training to work in parcel shipments, ensure deliveries and communicate with shipping companies. Fleet teams charged with every step of the process needed to get disk images operational for customers make it easier for backup vendors to offer diverse solutions. Making this approach part of your operations gives customers options and ensures they have a choice for every circumstance they may encounter. Along the same lines, you need to make the right decision related to the method of file transfer. The logistics team should be consulted in instances where the best method of transmitting files is unclear. Some cases will suit digital protocols better, and you need to use them whenever possible. Efficiency and security are the most crucial factors for any file transfer. If you can send documents digitally with full confidence that they will arrive quickly, safely and without any significant impact on local network performance, it’s the right option.
At the moment, companies are moving toward hybrid approaches, opting for cloud transfer at times and other options whenever they make sense. Vendors need both to make it clear that they have customers’ best interests at heart. It’s not enough just to use parcels sometimes, either. Supporting shipments with logistical teams and other investments to make it a viable, trusted part of the business is critical for backup vendors to assuage customer concerns.
When we think about enterprise IT in 2016, we tend to think about pushing the limits of the Internet. It’s amazing what we can accomplish, who we can talk to and what we can access in a matter of seconds. It’s equally interesting to think that even in this landscape, something as seemingly outdated as package delivery plays a significant role in prudent IT operations. Package-delivery value is clear, though, and backup vendors need to understand that reliable parcel and logistics offerings can make them stand out from the crowd.
About the Author
Bill Chellis is the RoundTrip seed-drive manager at Datto. He has been with the company since 2011, having previously served as technical-support engineer, evening support manager and cloud-operations manager. Before Datto, Bill worked at CBIZ Network Solutions, Cablevision and the United States Postal Service.