Large businesses are looking more closely at online backup options as a way to ease systems administration headaches and avoid security concerns linked to physical backup procedures.

Analysts said they expect corporate interest in hosted backup systems to grow as major storage vendors enter the business and work to allay user concerns about pricing and bandwidth.

Walter Petruska, information security officer at the University of San Francisco (USF), said the upfront cost and the IT overhead needed to manage physical backup for 1,300 devices under his control prompted the school to move to a subscription-based hosted backup option. "If you asked me three or five years ago [about backup], the economics would say, 'Build it yourself,'" he said. However, as storage vendors enter the online storage business and work to address IT concerns, "I can't imagine anyone doing it themselves," Petruska added.

The university is in the process of implementing the MozyPro hosted backup service, which storage vendor EMC picked up in its $76 million acquisition of Berkeley Data Systems in September.

Last month, EMC launched MozyEnterprise, which combines Berkeley technology with EMC tools, including RSA Security products, to provide subscription-based online backup and recovery services for Windows-based PCs and remote servers.

EMC and some of its key rivals are betting that their entry into the online storage business will expand interest among corporate IT managers looking to better deal with complex system and application infrastructures, say storage experts.