What are the Advantages of a Purpose-Built Cloud?

Some cloud backup providers are starting to build their own clouds for their purposes. Is that a good idea? Shouldn’t they use more general-purpose cloud providers like Amazon, Google, or Microsoft? What value can be derived from having your backup provider have their own private cloud?

As of this writing, the most obvious thing that comes to mind is the Amazon outage of early March 2017. Someone typed the wrong command and took out an entire availability zone. If your backup cloud provider is relying on another vendor’s public cloud offering for their compute, network, and storage, they are subject to that platform’s availability. When a public cloud provider goes down, every company that uses that cloud provider is also down.

Smart readers might rightly ask, “Are the backup vendor’s system administrators any better than the public cloud system administrators?” I will say that’s irrelevant. You’re already using the backup cloud provider, so you’ll use their system administrators. The question is whether you will also use the system administrators of the public cloud vendor. When your backup cloud provider is using a public cloud provider’s VMs to do their job, you increase the chances of a mistake because you increase the number and types of people administering the system. If a backup cloud provider is running their own private cloud, at least you only have to worry about their system administrators.

Another thing to think about is what we call security by obscurity. Big public cloud providers are well known to everyone, including those wishing to do you harm. They are a big target and as such draw a lot of attacks; therefore, large numbers of people are figuring out how and when to attack those providers. They successfully defend against almost all of those attacks, and only one of those attacks has to get through to cause an outage. The fact remains that public cloud providers are a much bigger target than a small private cloud created by a cloud backup provider.

Theoretically a backup cloud provider could also provide better performance by designing both the hardware and the operating system specifically for the needs of their product. This is simply not possible in a large cloud provider. You may be able to tweak the operating system, but you will not be able to specify particular brands of storage, compute, or networking. Having control over all of those pieces of the infrastructure creates the possibility the backup cloud provider can create a better performing product for your purposes.

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The final thought about this question is that if there is a problem with the physical infrastructure, owning that infrastructure makes solving that problem much easier. Being one of millions of customers of a large cloud provider makes it much more difficult to solve a problem that might be caused by some type of hardware or operating system dependency problem. Owning the infrastructure does not remove such dependency problems, but it does make troubleshooting much easier.

StorageSwiss Take

Of course there are advantages to using a general-purpose cloud as well, but it’s hard to argue with these advantages of a private cloud built specifically for the purposes of backup and recovery. Greater availability, less susceptibility to hacking, better performance, and easier troubleshooting are all good things that should make your experience with a backup cloud provider better.

About Quorum

QuorumLabs, Inc. is headquartered in San Jose CA with offices all around the world. Quorum “Disaster Recovery as a Service” (DRaaS) solutions provide organizations with both local and remote instant recovery capabilities for their servers, applications and data. Quorum onQ provides the fastest on premises backup and recovery appliance combined with the most flexible DRaaS in the industry. This hybrid approach allows Quorum customers to enjoy high performance and cloud scale in a single product. To learn more, visit www.quorum.com/product for details.

W. Curtis Preston (aka Mr. Backup) is an expert in backup & recovery systems; a space he has been working in since 1993. He has written three books on the subject, Backup & Recovery, Using SANs and NAS, and Unix Backup & Recovery. Mr. Preston is a writer and has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences around the world. Preston’s mission is to arm today’s IT managers with truly unbiased information about today’s storage industry and its products.

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