Mozy.com Ups the Ante in Low-Cost Backup

Online storage startup aims to prove that secure online backup and affordability are no longer mutually exclusive.

An unknown startup company from Salt Lake City known as Berkeley Data Systems has effectively pulled the rug out from the online backup industry with the launch of a secure backup service known as Mozy. Typical prices for online storage are somewhere on the range of $20 a month or $200 a year, although this varies based on the amount of data stored. Mozy.com, on the other hand, has made secure online backup services available at a rate of zero for the first 2 GB, and about $30 for 10 GB for the entire year.

The company handled almost one million backups during its beta. An analysis of the traffic revealed the largest set of files backup were Microsoft Outlook files. These Outlook .PST files not only contain email, but also file attachments, and contacts.

"Because the files are critical to every day work and change often, Mozy is a perfect fit for this kind of continuous, automatic data protection provides," says Josh Coates, Founder and CEO of Berkeley Data Systems. "Mozy is able to handle any open or locked file and incrementally back up only the bytes that have changed since most recent backup."

Coates studied computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked in the large-scale parallel systems research group. One of the highlights of his career at Berkeley occurred when he broke the world's speed record for data sorting on a parallel cluster, beating out teams from Compaq and IBM. He also spent time at Microsoft's Bay Area Research Center in San Francisco working with Turing award winner, Jim Gray, on high performance disk and network IO, and then moved on to Inktomi Corporation to work on Internet caching.

At the age of 25 Coates founded Scale8, the first storage service provider to leverage rack and stack commodity architectures to breakthrough storage price norms and performance barriers. Scale8 provided storage for Microsoft, Fujitsu and Viacom. After four years of operations, Scale8 shutdown and sold its intellectual property to Intel. Coates spent a year at the non-profit, Internet Archive, building out its new petabyte archive in San Francisco. He began Berkeley Data Systems in 2005.

The last few months were spent readying the service for launch. Now it is available free for 2 GB, $19.95 for 5 GB a year, $29.95 for 10 GB and $39.95 for 20 GB. A broadband connection is recommended. Though after the initial backup, only block level incremental file changes are uploaded so traffic volume is kept to a minimum.

The services itself is very easy to use. Software is loaded onto the server or PC to be backed up. Users check the box, and Mozy figures out what needs to be backed up. It can be set to automatically backup photos, email, contacts, financial records, and office documents. Advanced settings are also available to users to customize backup sets by file type, size or location. Backups can be scheduled during off hours, or set to run automatically in the background throughout the day.

How secure is it? Users can opt to have their data automatically encrypted with their own private 448-bit symmetric key on their PC before transferring them to the Mozy servers. The data is encoded by 448-bit Blowfish encryption and then transferred to Berkeley Data Systems’ data centers using 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption.

"Our full security features are free and included in every version of the product and service," says Coates. "Whether its pictures of your grandchildren, or your confidential business plan, they are more secure with Mozy than any other place. We’ve made enterprise grade security a simple and automatic part of Mozy remote backup."

The data is stored in racks of commodity hardware running specialized software capable of storing and retrieving billions of encrypted files across thousands of disks.

"Traditional RAID technologies are problematic due to the sheer number of disks required," says Coates. "A new type of encoding scheme is required to assure data integrity, and a new kind of storage network is required to assure scalability. Berkeley Data Systems has been focused on the research and development of this system so Mozy can become a reality."

In exchange for free space on its servers and free backup software, the user agrees to a weekly sponsored newsletter and some targeted ads.

"Your data is not shared or used by the advertisers," says Coates. "Rather, all data stored by Mozy is safe and secure through high-end security features."

This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.






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