Cloud computing is one of the buzzwords for 2009, so I guess it's no surprise that Netgear is jumping on the bandwagon with its announcement that its ReadyNAS Vault service is bringing "cloud backup" to its network storage devices.
On its surface, ReadyNAS Vault doesn't sound so different from the online backup features that some NAS manufacturers make available to their customers. You pay a monthly fee ($5.95 for basic, $19.95 for business) to back up files to Netgear's own data center, which can be accessed remotely from any Web browser. Iomega offers a similar service with Mozy for $4.95 per month for consumers with its StorCenter Pro ix4-100 NAS drive, or priced per gigabyte of storage for business users. The Vault does seem to be tightly integrated with the ReadyNAS administrative interface, though, and you can monitor and adjust backup jobs from any browser. You can also manage multiple drives from a single login. Like Mozy's business service, ReadyNAS Vault can detect any changes to files on a network and then automatically back them up online.
No doubt other NAS makers will start integrating online backup better in their offerings as a result of ReadyNAS Vault. And the advantage of offsite backup that doesn't require saving to your own external drive and then keeping that drive in a safe alternative location will appeal especially to small businesses. Whether this constitutes a revolution in "cloud backup" is open to debate, but ReadyNAS owners can give the Vault service a spin for free for 30 days to test out its advantages.