All organizations today, regardless of size, have to deal with a myriad of governmental rules and regulations that require the organizations to retain, secure and protect all of their data in specific ways determined by the governmental body requiring the retention. It is difficult enough to accomplish these objectives when data is growing exponentially and resides on numerous individual silos such as NAS systems, storage arrays and individual servers in the enterprise. This situation becomes even more challenging when dealing with the fact that a lot of an organization’s data now resides on individual end point devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.
While large organizations usually have the infrastructure, software, financial resources and trained technical personnel needed to handle these tasks, many small and medium businesses (SMB) may not. Nevertheless, they still face the same regulatory and compliance requirements, and potential fines for non-compliance, as large organizations.
Like large organizations, smaller ones are also turning to the cloud to help reduce or control their current infrastructure and management costs, as they also have to deal with ever-increasing amounts of unstructured data. But, simply storing their data in the cloud does not guarantee compliant data protection. Consequently, it makes sense to consider cloud-based backup as a service (BaaS) solutions that can provide data protection that meets compliance requirements at a reasonable cost.
A Feature Rich On-Line Solution
Zoolz, a UK-based company, now offers the Zoolz Intelligent Cloud service. It is an innovative data protection and management platform with some unique features. Zoolz combines artificial intelligence with data protection, and conventional management tools and processes. This unique combination provides enhanced data protection, organization, discovery, distribution and secure data access. While Zoolz Intelligent Cloud provides standard backup and recovery features, like deduplication, compression and block level backups, it adds some unique eDiscovery features and options not normally found in standard backup products.
Zoolz partners with Amazon (AWS) and leverages its infrastructure to store and manage data backed up to the Zoolz Intelligent Cloud. Their basic business plan provides 100GB of “hot storage” (AWS S3) and 500GB of “cold storage” (AWS Glacier). When first setting up an account, customers can define the quantities of “hot” and “cold” storage as well as selecting options for eDiscovery, HD video streaming and OCR. SD video streaming is free.
How it Works
After installing the client software on each client system, data is backed up to the Zoolz Intelligent Cloud. Users can select whether to place a file into Glacier (Cold Storage), or into Hot Storage for immediate access. Zoolz also provides a Hybrid+ option that allows backups to local NAS, SAN and external storage devices as well as to the Zoolz cloud service.
Zoolz leverages Amazon’s (AWS) Snowball service to handle the initial ingest of very large data amounts. Amazon has two different tamper-resistant secure storage appliances, Snowball or Snowmobile, which Zoolz sends to the customer who connects it to their network and copies all their data to it via NFS mount. The Snowball device is a small, ruggedized appliance, which can store up to 50TB. The Snowmobile is a 45-foot long ruggedized shipping container that can store up to 100PB. Data on each appliance is encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption. After copying all files to it, the customer sends the appliance back to Zoolz, who process the data and move the files to the customer’s account.
Zoolz encrypts all data backed up from client devices to the Zoolz Intelligent Cloud prior to transmission, during transmission and at rest, using military grade 256-bit AES encryption. One very important fact is Zoolz systems generate and control all encryption keys. This may be of concern to organizations with very stringent security requirements.
During backups, Zoolz Intelligent Cloud AI analyzes, categorizes and indexes the data then stores metadata about each file a special database. This metadata enables Zoolz to provide advanced eDiscovery features such as content discovery, document data discovery, media discovery, image discovery, OCR data recovery and high performance video streaming with support for HD, 4K and 3D formats. These capabilities provide users with powerful, easy to use search capabilities across all their data regardless of file type. Users can search by keywords, phrases, and even descriptions for image and video files, to find specific data quickly and easily.
Zoolz is easy to install and configure for automatic backups based on user-defined policies that specify what data to back up, retention periods and versioning. Users can easily handle their own restores including remote restores to different devices. There are no additional charges if the end-user exceed restrictions and capacity limits placed by AWS on their Glacier storage. Zoolz also provides robust reporting and auditing capabilities as well as secure file and folder sharing capabilities.
Zoolz’s basic business plan has several options. The basic options are “hot storage” which costs $0.08/GB per month, “cold storage” which costs $0.04/GB per month for a total of $28 per month for 100GB of “hot storage” and 500GB of cold storage. Adding the eDiscovery option is an additional $9.00/mo. The OCR option is a one-time charge of $40.00 per 1000 pages. HD Video Streaming option is $0.03/GB per month. SD Video streaming is included free.
The Zoolz Intelligent Cloud service provides some unique and compelling features with strong security at a reasonable cost that should be attractive to SMBs. The powerful advanced eDiscovery and search features as well as media streaming, retention control and versioning options are something not found in most backup solutions. Zoolz can also handle data sovereignty requirements across Europe and Asia-Pacific. All of these features makes the Zoolz Intelligent Cloud solution one worth any organization giving serious consideration.
The only downside we see with this product is the fact that Zoolz, rather than the customer, controls the encryption keys. For maximum security and chain-of-evidence, the customer should be the only one who controls their encryption keys. However, the tradeoff here is Zool’s advanced indexing and search capabilities, which would not be available if they could not decrypt the data. This issue may not be a concern for organizations that are not in heavily regulated industries.