How many technicians does it take...

... (no, not to change a light bulb, but) to protect user data? Data protection grows in different shapes that vary according to the different business requirements of each context. Take, for example, application servers, which are synonymous with large data concentration, and compare their business-critical timing for backup and restore with that of users' PCs.

Of course, users can wait longer to have their data recovered, and the amount of data is smaller than that of, say, an online order-entry application, right? Well, good luck explaining this to an irate marketing manager whose laptop decided to crash only hours before an important sales pitch to a major prospect. Should this happen in your company (or did it already?), you'd better be ready to restore that PowerPoint presentation ASAP.

Moreover, handling data protection for thousands of users can easily add up terabytes of data, and although users will probably modify only a small fraction of their gigabyte-size disk drives each day, those changes constitute a myriad of data streams that need to be individually monitored and accounted for when something goes wrong.

And to make things even more challenging, although there is abundance of tools to adequately protect (and recover) server storage (each comes at a price, of course), there are fewer alternatives for securing data on those blessed user computers. Did I mention e-mail?

Connected, which recently released a new version of its DataProtector, offers an interesting application to protect user data that blends transparency to users (the client agent runs in the background, driven by an IT-defined schedule) with sophisticated techniques, including delta block transfer and data compression to reduce the amount of data transferred from each PC to a central repository. In addition, the new version adds an interesting module, EmailOptimizer, which can minimize data transfer of attached files for Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes.

Obviously, managing thousands of microdata protection activities has its cost in dollars and human resources. This, and the grunt work to provide technical support, leads many companies to move those activities to a service provider to free up precious IT person-hours for more strategic and rewarding activities.

Not surprisingly, Connected offers DataProtector as licensed application or as a service, which obviously frees your IT department from baby-sitting yet another server. And if your IT resources are stretched thin over too many projects, you can outsource both users' PC protection and technical support to IBM Virtual Help Desk (VHD), part of IBM Global Services that just inked an agreement with Connected.

According to Hal Sadowy, business executive for VHD sales and services delivery, the solution from Connected offers the best technology and great flexibility for managing users' PC backup and restore, among those evaluated by IBM.

If managing your users' PC data protection is diverting too many resources from business-focused activities, consider outsourcing. All you have to lose is grunt work, and you will likely end up making a more effective use of budget dollars.

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