The cloud holds much promise for data protection, but support for the cloud varies depending on the solution. Traditional backup applications and appliances have, at best, rudimentary support for the cloud. They may only mirror the on-premises copy of data to the cloud, if they support the cloud at all. IT planners should expect more from their data protection vendors than basic cloud replication. They should be looking for solutions that provide complete cloud mobility alongside a clear, step-by-step process for cloud adoption, identifying four key steps: cloud archival; cloud disaster recovery; cloud migration; and protecting cloud-native applications.
Step 1: Cloud Archival
Product Data continues to grow with no end in sight. Its growth is leading to exponential growth of secondary data storage. The reality, though, is that the importance and value of secondary data declines over time. There may be a need to recover yesterday’s backup data rapidly, while that same scenario may be unlikely for an older backup from last month.
It makes sense, then, to archive these older backups to cloud storage instead of growing the organization’s on-premises footprint. Cloud storage provides a means to store old backup data cost-effectively while still keeping it accessible.
The organization should create a policy to archive older, on-premises backups to the cloud. The ideal solution should then later remove older backups from on-premises storage, making them exclusively available in the cloud. The solution should also archive to multiple cloud regions to reduce the risk of using a single cloud.
Step 2: Cloud Disaster Recovery for On-Premises Applications
As a result of step one, a protected copy of all data is in the cloud. Next generation solutions need to take advantage of the cloud’s other resource, on-demand, elastic computing. In step two, the data protection solution can instantiate on-premises data to the cloud, in addition to using the cloud as a storage endpoint.
This step enables companies to restore data from cloud backups to cloud servers so that applications can run in the cloud. Often this includes the conversion of on-premises virtual machines to cloud virtual machines. Enabling cloud disaster recovery eliminates the need for the organization to pay for and maintain a separate disaster recovery site. It “pays” for the use of cloud compute only when needed, such as in the event of a disaster recovery.
Step 3: Cloud Migration
As organizations embrace the cloud, one of the biggest challenges is moving data to the cloud without disrupting production systems. This migration also requires data protection architecture that can run in the cloud.
Organizations that have already completed steps one and two – using the cloud to store archival data and using the cloud for disaster recovery – have also done some of the heavy lifting for cloud migration. Many organizations use this opportunity to shift production data and systems to the cloud. In this case, the next step is for the cloud-based parts of the data protection infrastructure to run entirely in the cloud alongside newly migrated production data.
Step 4: Protecting Cloud-Native Applications
The final step is to protect cloud-native applications, built in the cloud. Just running in the cloud doesn’t provide data protection. Organizations still need the point in time backups stored separately from primary data to protect against cyber-attacks, malware, and user error.
Cloud-based data protection, as described in steps two and three, also needs to offer data backup for cloud-native applications. Once it is in place, an organization can create point in time backups of its cloud applications without having to purchase, implement, and learn a new solution. They continue to leverage what they already know, and they continue to use a single dashboard and policy engine to define data protection.
The commonality between cloud-based and on-premises data protection is critical since most organizations have a hybrid cloud approach alongside their data center. More than likely, there will be constant flow between the cloud and the data center. Data protection infrastructure should work to channel that flow of data for a variety of use cases, such as using the cloud for test instances.
The ideal data protection infrastructure is a converged solution that protects applications in a traditional data center while providing a step-by-step process for adopting the cloud. Modern data protection infrastructure should be able to leverage cloud storage for archival; as well as cloud storage and compute for disaster recovery. It should be able to run in the cloud to enable cloud migration, and it should be able to protect applications built in the cloud. Providing this step-by-step path to the cloud makes for a modern data protection solution, and it makes data protection a strategic partner in large-scale IT transformations.
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