The Cloud can be a scary place if you don't know how to protect your data from being blown away by a big gust of wind. What is the first rule of computing? Backup, backup, backup. One company claims to make that process simple and inexpensive.

Zmanda, founded in 2005, offers Zmanda Cloud Backup [ZCB], a complete live backup that protects the gambit of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows servers, XP, 7, Vista, 2003, and 2008, as well as alternative operating systems such as OS X, Solaris, Linux and others [in separate, enterprise packages]. It will perform a live back up of SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, MySQL and Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL). All without the usual 30 day limit. They place it all on Amazon's online storage with HIPAA security compliance and backed by a 99.9 percent SLA guarantee. Data is encrypted using up to 4096-bit keys, securely transferred using SSL, and stored in SAS 70 Type II certified data centers.

All that sounds expensive, but it's not really -- set-up is only $4.95 with a similar monthly licensing fee, plus $0.15 per GB per month. They compare their service with Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC), which they quote at just over $5,000.

Zmanda is available worldwide. It is compliant with EUDPD [European Union Data Protection Directive], which places limitations on sharing personal information about EU citizens outside of the EU in areas thought to have less-than-adequate data security standards.

In fact, at the end of June, they released their third-generation cloud backup, ZCB 3.0, which added enhanced geography control across data centers on three continents, including Amazon S3 centers in Singapore. The latest release has support for international character sets [Chinese and Japanese], and Internet bandwidth management with a throttling option. Additional good news -- they lowered their prices even more for the cloud backup that addresses both desktops and servers, physical or virtual machines. Finally, ZCB 3.0 with its GUI interface supports disaster recovery in the cloud, if the primary data location isn't accessible.

Zmanda's customers cover 55 countries. The company, although based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is naturally concerned with international placement. Both founders have a world view; Chandler Kant and Paddy Sreenivasan were educated in India. Kant has a BS in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. His MS in Computer Science is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sreenivasan holds a Bachelor's degree from BITS, Pilani with an MS from the University of Pune, India.

Kant also founded and ran LinuxCertified, an open-source product and services company. He was included in the Top 20 Linux Luminaries by Linux World Magazine in 2004. Co-founder Paddy Sreenivasan occupies the position of VP of Engineering at Zmanda.

As well as ZCB, Zmanda's solutions include Zmanda Recovery Manager [ZRM] for MySQL and Amanda Enterprise to address a heterogeneous IT environment. Amanda Enterprise is a network backup solution based on the Amanda open-source data backup and recovery software. In August, 2008 it took the Best of Open Source Storage Software [BOSSIE] Award for Network Backup from InfoWorld. The cost-conscious company prices Amanda at less than $5,000, while competitors EMC NetWorker and Symantec NetBackup [which they acquired with Veritas] are between $15,000 and $20,000, according to their figures. The company's strategic partners are Sun, MySQL, Oracle, NetApp, Red Hat, Canonical [Ubuntu]. All this makes Zmanda worth looking into.

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