TCG has a bunch of staff spread across the country. This presents a number of technical challenges for data security and corporate data integrity. We’ve put in place measures such as our VPN, which has created an internal "LAN" that’s proving very useful. But client backups have always been painful. For a while we were using Connected Online Backup, which was good but increasingly expensive as our backup needs grew, and Remote Backup, which was never as reliable as we need. Our incredible CTO, Robert "Butch" Buccigrossi, has recently taken a really interesting tack, using an open source backup app called NasBackup.
NasBackup uses the rsync command to execute backups to a remote server. As Butch said, "rsync itself is as reliable as a rock. The problem is that it is as user
friendly as a rock. The magic of NasBackup is that it places a simple but
effective graphical user interface to a very cryptic command-line utility." That sounds simple enough but there’s actually a great deal of techno-wizardry happening to make it easy for the end user and as reliable as one would expect. As with most nascent open source applications, NasBackup is being developed by a core set of people, with others adding changes organically as they modify the source code to meet their own needs. And this is exactly what Butch recently contributed to the project.
He took the source code, added some significant modifications, reorganized the source tree to make future modifications easier, and then contributed his work back into the project. You can see all the details in his posting here. As a result of his work, we now have a very reliable backup system that we’re able to use from anywhere we happen to be, and the application is much easier for others to deploy, use, and expand upon.
Butch actually has a history of this kind of innovation. (A doctorate from UPenn is testament to that, too!) Another great example is SteelBlue, an application server that Butch and Al Crowley designed and built way back in the mid-90’s, before security was really a built-in feature of most web apps.
My only serious complaint about Butch is that he appropriated the nickname that is rightfully mine before I joined the company. Damn him for being such an outstanding individual! If you’d like to know more about our work with NasBackup, send me a note.