Decisions the Enterprise Must Make When Considering Cloud Backup

In our first column we discussed what cloud providers needed to provide to make the enterprise more comfortable with using the cloud for backup. In this entry we discuss how to choose the right cloud provider and give an example of a cloud provider that delivers an enterprise experience.

The primary decision enterprises must make when considering cloud backup depends on what they have already invested in on-premises software and hardware for data protection. Despite some of the apparent weaknesses of the on-premises solution, it is a “known” in a world of unknowns. How large the current backup investment is and how much the organization likes that solution will go a long way in dictating the type of cloud solution in which the customer will invest.

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It is important to understand that deciding to leverage the cloud for data availability does not mean that the organization must throw out their current investment. While their capabilities will vary, many on-premises solutions have some sort of cloud connectivity today. Working with a cloud provider with a cross-section of experience in the “cloudifying” of legacy on-premises data protection solutions makes that process much smoother. It is possible to accomplish this cloudifying through a software extension created by a software vendor or by a third party product that looks like a NAS to the backup software and then replicates to the cloud provider.

Another Important decision is deciding on what the short-term and long-term use case for the cloud is. A great many organizations are very happy using the cloud as a secondary storage area for backup data. Essentially, it is a backup copy of last resort. They will continue to maintain on-premises backup and maybe even replicate to a secondary location that they own, but they may want to use the cloud as a third location. An excellent use for this type of design is when the organization has two locations within close proximity of each other and want to have a third location further away in the event of a large regional disaster.

Other organizations may want to operate on the data once it is in the cloud. For example, they may want to do disaster recovery tests, do analytics, reporting on that data or even DevOps. How that data is stored in the cloud is a factor in how useful the data is once it gets there. However, even if that data is in some proprietary backup format, the cloud provider may be able to help position and convert it to an environment in their cloud that is able to perform disaster recovery and other tests.

Fixing the Enterprise Problem

The problem for most enterprises is they don’t have the time and in some cases the expertise to successfully integrate the cloud into their data protection process. The megacloud provides infrastructure only, and the enterprise is left on its own to figure out how to fully leverage the cloud. The regional cloud provider may provide some expertise, but it lacks the scale required to support all of an enterprises data protection needs, including DR, endpoint and SaaS backups. Regional providers also lack the scope to make sure that data is geographically replicated to protect against a regional disaster. Custom Cloud Providers have the expertise to help the enterprise integrate the cloud into their existing data protection processes, often leveraging current data protection applications. At the same time, they also have the size and scope to handle the requirements of the enterprise.

Introducing KeepItSafe – A Global Cloud, Customized for Backup

For example, KeepItSafe is a global cloud provider specializing in helping organizations leverage the cloud for custom backup storage and disaster recovery. Unlike niche regional cloud providers, which typically only support one application, KeepItSafe has the experience in “cloudifying” traditional on-premises applications by supporting a variety of data protection applications. The value of providing cloud connectivity is that it enables the customer to leverage the investment they have already made in on-premises software. If however, the customer’s current on-premises solution is not suitable for the cloud, KeepItSafe supports a variety of applications and can assist their customers with migration to the new software and the cloud.

In short, KeepItSafe delivers modernized storage data availability, able to not only accommodate a variety of on-premises data protection solutions but also integrate those solutions into its customizable cloud service which is designed specifically for the backup and disaster recovery use case. It can walk its customers through the cloud integration process and work with its customers to provide continuous analysis of their level of protection while exceeding industry compliance and security mandates.

An enterprise typically has a variety of environments in their data center, and a backup application protects each of those environments. In fact, it is not uncommon for the data center to have different products for each platform. For example, the organization may have a large virtualized environment based on VMware or Hyper-V. It may have a physical Oracle environment based on Linux, and it may have a requirement to protect mobile laptops and devices.

When an enterprise wants to consider integrating or moving backups to the cloud, they want to do so without giving up quality protection. IT, as they go through the selection process, find that most software solutions that excel at on-premises data protection are weak when connecting to, moving to and storing data in the cloud. They also find that while most cloud solutions are better at the cloud connectivity and the cloud storage aspects are not as good at protecting the on-premises application. Since quality protection is job one, the enterprise often selects an on-premises focused solution and then settles for weaker cloud support.

A custom cloud provider like KeepItSafe can close the gap. It supports more traditional enterprise data protection solutions but then partners with its customers to complete the cloud connection. Because KeepItSafe has its cloud, it is in direct control of all of the variables needed to create a seamless connection between the on-premises applications and the cloud copy of data. This total ownership allows the KeepItSafe customers to move from using the cloud as an online backup repository to leverage the cloud as a disaster recovery site.

Conclusion

Enterprises, as much as any other sized organization, should be able to fully exploit the cloud to help solidify their data protection process. The problem has been finding the right provider. When trying to integrate cloud into their data availability process, the enterprise faces a Goldilocks phenomenon; megaclouds are too big and don’t provide the turnkey experience, and regional providers are too small, lacking the required scope. Custom Cloud Providers deliver the “just right” scenario that most enterprises need. They are also less likely to charge egress fees, which during a recovery are expensive and hard to budget for. Custom Cloud Providers have the flexibility to support a variety of applications, the expertise to walk the enterprise customer through the process and the global reach to make sure the enterprise is ready for any disaster.

Storage Switzerland’s latest white paper explains why the cloud has fallen short for enterprise backup and how to fix it. We start first with an explanation of the different types of providers and then guide the reader as to how to find the perfect match for their organization.

The paper is exclusively available to registrants of our on demand webinar “Moving the Enterprise Backup to the Cloud – A Step-By-Step Guide“. To get your copy of the white paper, attend today.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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