Does The Cloud Need Backup?

There is no such thing as the cloud; there is only somebody else’s computer. Data stored in the cloud (i.e. on someone else’s computer) needs to be protected just like data stored on your own computer. No one would question that statement; however, what is being questioned is whether or not the cloud is protecting the data for you – or do you need to protect it yourself?

We just talked about this in another blog post about cloud caching appliances that use cloud storage services such as S3 or Azure to store the primary copy of data. That blog post did say the data stored in the cloud needs to be protected, but that there are ways to protect it using the capabilities of the cloud caching appliance. But what about people that are storing the only copy of their data in the cloud? Some people are running their entire company in services such as Amazon Web services and their data is stored only in Amazon’s cloud storage. What about file sync and share services such as box or Dropbox? Does that data need to be backed up? And how would you go about backing up such data?

There are a number of things that can happen to data stored only in the cloud. Firstly there is the possibility of some type of bug in the cloud systems software that causes some type of corruption or deletion of data. While much of the software driving cloud storage systems is solid and is designed to be self protecting, all of that software is written by human beings and the hardware that software is running on is built by human beings and managed by human beings. This really should not need to be explained.

Secondly, there are black hats (hackers) out there that want to do damage to your data. Perhaps someone opens the wrong email and your entire data set inside the cloud is encrypted by ransomware. Perhaps a black hat gains access to your system via social engineering or other techniques and simply deletes your company. Read this old blog post of mine about a company called codespaces.com for example of exactly that.

Finally — and this is especially important for file sync and share users – there are users. No matter how smart a user is, they are still capable of doing dumb things like deleting a very important directory or saving over one file with another file. A file sync and share service will simply make that accidental deletion more effective by deleting it everywhere else including the cloud copy. So yes, data residing only in the cloud needs some way to be backed up.

This is why it was exciting to learn of a new company called Tervela that is doing just that: backup of cloud storage. They also advertise the ability to make large data migrations to and from the cloud easier.

CloudFASTPATH was originally designed as a data migration tool to assist companies in doing large-scale migrations from a local data center to a cloud provider or from one cloud provider to another. Using a number of data analytics, bandwidth optimization, parallelization, and API call optimization techniques, they are able to make large-scale migrations go much faster and much easier. Recently Tervela has enhanced CloudFASTPATH to support the backup of enterprise file sync and share services and other cloud storage offerings. This would allow you to backup one cloud provider to another cloud provider to protect against multiple threats.

The first version supports only synchronizing data to the higher-grade services, such as Amazon’s S-3 or Google’s Regional offering. They do not yet support backing up to Amazon glacier or Google Coldline. This would be very helpful for customers who would like a just-in-case backup stored in another system, but are concerned with the cost of doing so.

As mentioned in the blog post about cloud caching appliances, many of them support sending all data to two cloud providers, but few customers use such a feature since it doubles cost. But if Tervela could enhance CloudFASTPATH to support backing up Amazon S-3 to Coldline and backing up Google Regional or Multi-Regional to Amazon Glacier, they could give these same customers a much cheaper way to provide another copy of their data.

StorageSwiss Take

Data stored only in the cloud definitely needs backing up. Even data that is stored in the cloud and synced to people’s hard drives is vulnerable to attack and accidental deletion. Tervela CloudFASTPATH offers a solid way to do just that. We’d like to see it enhanced to support the use of products like Glacier or Coldline as a target. Until Tervela provides direct support, using CloudFASTPATH to backup your file sync and share data at the higher-level cloud services like S3 and Google’s regional offerings and then moving them via cloud utilities to the more cost effective services remains a viable option and one that many data centers should consider.

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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