Organisations should be prepared to do their own remote vaulting rather than trusting third-parties, claims Canadian software house Asigra. The company, which is launching its distributed backup software in the UK, said that Its Televaulting technology manages backups from remote offices to central data centres, and the company says that the key is it requires no client software on the PCs and servers to be backed up.

Asigra's executive VP Eran Farajan says that UK service providers such as InTechnology have been using the software for some time, providing remote vaulting services to customers including the DTI, WS Atkins and Superdrug.

If you think this sounds like the sort of thing offered by Connected and others, you'd be right. "The difference is where they need a software agent on every PC, we do not," Farajan says.

Instead, the Televaulting software backups up direct from local shares, typically using the domain admin account to gain access. It relies upon each site having a local backup appliance, which can be a spare Windows or Linux machine.

This must first complete the lengthy - but one-time - process of discovering what storage exists at its site. It then sucks data from the other systems, ignores duplicate files, performs delta-blocking so only changed portions are transferred, compresses the result and sends it over the WAN to the main Televaulting server.

Nick Cater, Connected's general manager for Northern Europe, points out that this approach protects locations rather than individual systems. "I think we'll be stronger on protecting travelling laptops, and we can protect remote offices without needing a local server," he says.

He adds that Connected too sells software as well as remote backup services. "We probably have more of our 200,000 UK seats on software than service," he says.

Eran Farajan says the extra server per site is not a problem, he says that the site client software is free and that it offloads the backup processing from the local application servers. Asigra's only charge is a one-time fee for the central valuting software, he says - $56,000 for the first Terabyte to be stored, plus $7,500 for each additional Terabyte.

The central vault must then be protected just like any other server, of course, for example by mirroring, saving to a tape library, etc. "We don't displace Veritas, Legato, Tivoli and others in the datacentre," Farajan says. "We only displace tapes outside the datacentre."

He adds that Televaulting servers can be combined in an N+1 grid to provide scalability, and that the software supports bare-metal restores of failed systems. If a local site client fails, all that is needed is to enter the encryption key on a new one and synchronise it with the datacentre. Asigra's distributor here will be Accentuate, he adds.