Many organizations are considering switching to a cloud backup solution to meet their data protection needs. Cloud backup promises to reduce the data protection headache by reducing the investment in on-premises infrastructure. And while cloud backup does provide almost automatic off-site copies of data, one of its biggest drawbacks is how to perform a rapid disaster recovery. Now though, thanks to disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), customers can recover in the cloud in less than an hour, reducing not only recovery time but also saving disaster recovery site costs.
Cloud backup solutions have made progress but not all applications take full advantage of the cloud environment in which they exist. On-premises solutions may lack these capabilities as well but not exploiting them when they are readily available in the cloud is shortsighted.
Correctly Leverage On-Premises Storage
Many cloud backup solutions support some form of on-premises presence. In many cases this presence comes in the form of a physical appliance, which means the organization has to find rack space to install the unit, allocate switch ports and all the other steps required to deploy a new server. Another challenge with some on-premises implementation models is that they require a significant amount of disk capacity; they can’t act as a cache and send older backup data to the cloud.
Ideally the cloud backup solution should support being deployed on a physical appliance or as a virtual machine within a virtual infrastructure. It also should truly act like a cache, meaning that all data is backed up locally while at the same time being sent to cloud storage. Then, as backups age on the cache they are removed from the on-premises storage, thus limiting growth. The caching model is ideal for backups since most recoveries, especially ones that are time sensitive, are from the most recent backup, not from backups that are multiple years old.
Correctly Leverage Cloud Storage
The next missing element from many cloud backup solutions is support for multiple cloud storage tiers. Every major cloud provider has multiple tiers of storage that customers can use to lower storage costs but most cloud backup solutions only support one of those tiers. The cost difference between these tiers is significant but the organization needs to be careful as to what data is stored on which tier, since they are penalized for accessing data from the lower cost tiers.
Other than simply supporting multiple cloud tiers, the backup software also needs to provide policies that enable customers to move data between these tiers only after they are sure that the chance of future access is extremely rare.
Correctly Leverage Cloud Compute
The final missing element is almost universal. Very few cloud backup solutions correctly leverage cloud compute resources. While most cloud backup applications do run in the cloud they do so in a scale-up model which is the antithesis of cloud computing. These solutions can only run within a single virtual machine which means that as the environment scales, they need to start multiple separate instances.
Ideally, a cloud backup solution should use a scale-out design for both its storage and its compute. Its processing should scale across multiple compute nodes in the environment. The result is not only infinite scale to meet customer demands but the backup software vendor can add additional services like eDiscovery and full content indexing without compromising performance.
Cloud backup has evolved significantly in the last few years but even as cloud backup vendors add important capabilities like DRaaS, they are lacking basic blocking and tackling features like correctly leveraging on-premises storage, cloud storage and cloud compute. IT planners need to understand how their prospective cloud backup vendors address these gaps or look at alternative solutions that don’t have the gaps in the first place.
Correctly leveraging the cloud is critical when counting on a cloud backup solution to protect the enterprise which is often distributed across multiple data centers and remote offices. A cloud backup solution is an ideal data protection method for the distributed enterprise but solutions lacking these features will struggle with backing up the distributed enterprise in a timely and cost-effective manner.
To learn more about protecting the distributed enterprise watch our on demand webinar, “All in the Cloud – Data Protection Up, Costs Down”.