During our recent webinar, “Three Reasons Cloud Backup is Broken and How to Fix it“, an attendee asked “should I have a multi-cloud backup strategy?” Many organizations use multiple clouds for their production workloads. Moving a workload between clouds to take advantage of services unique to a provider or to take advantage of a spot pricing opportunities is a sound strategy, but does having multiple backup copies across cloud providers also make sense?
What is a Backup Copy?
A backup is exactly that, a copy of production data representing a specific point in time. The potential for production data corruption or deletion makes these copies necessary, even for cloud-native applications.
Cloud providers deliver excellent high-availability, which comes from making almost instant copies of data. However, instant data copying means corruption or deletion of primary data immediately appears on data copies. Organizations need both, instant copies for high availability and point-in-time copies for rollback from corruption or deletion incidents.
Organizations make copies of their backups in the event of the destruction of the primary backup copy. Before using the cloud for backup storage, organizations typically moved their backups off site by shipping backup tapes or replicating backup data. As cloud providers appeared, the backup solutions used cloud storage used storing a copy of the backup.
Protecting the backups in case of a disaster was the primary motivation behind making backup copies. Someone could also steal or corrupt the backups, but a backup copy protects against that possibility.
Does Cloud Backup as a Platform Eliminate Backup Copies?
The webinar covers the evolution of cloud backup from using the cloud as a place to store backup copies to a platform that replaces the entire backup infrastructure. With backup as a platform, organizations typically backup on-premises data directly to the cloud and backup cloud-native applications within the cloud. All the processing and storing of backups occurs in the cloud.
The durability of data on on-premises backup systems typically is low. Backup architectures assume IT makes a copy of the backup soon after the protection process completes making high durability investments less important. Cloud as a platform stores backups on highly durable storage with built in redundancy and high availability, potentially making backup copies less important.
Cloud as a platform typically backs up cloud-native applications directly to alternate cloud regions. If the cloud as a platform service is protecting the organization’s on-premises applications, it copies the on-premises data to that region. In both cases, cloud as a platform stores backup data separately from production data. Traditional backup solutions typically store the first backup in the same location as the primary data.
The combination of highly durable protection storage, the high availability of the storage infrastructure and the separation from production data reduces, if not eliminates the need to make another copy of the backup data.
The direct backup to another region protects the organization if a disaster strikes the data center running the organization’s applications. If the organization feels another copy is necessary then replicating backup data to a third region is more cost effective than replicating to a separate cloud provider.
Cyber-attack is a bigger concern for cloud-based data than loss through natural disaster. Overcoming the cyber threat doesn’t justify a copy of the backup. Instead, the organization needs to implement sensible security measures. The organization needs to have different login methods for production data and backup data. The service also needs to provide two-factor authentication. It should also alert the IT team to major data changes, like a change in encryption keys or data re-encryption.
Backup and disaster recovery requires planning for worse case scenarios and for situations that may never occur. Planning for worse case scenarios though requires balancing the likelihood of the situation against the costs associated with preparation.
Cloud native applications, backed up to another region, provide the point-in-time copy that organizations need and protection from a disaster striking the original region. Organizations that feel they need another copy of the backup in a third region can still accomplish that goal cost effectively.
To learn more about cloud backup as a platform listen to our on-demand webinar “Three Reasons Cloud Backup is Broken and How to Fix it“.