The End of Mundane Backup with Transformational Technologies

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Cloud-Based Backup | @CloudExpo #BigData #DataCenter #Storage

The cloud has emerged as an attractive option for backup, allowing organizations to achieve optimal protection for their data

Easing the Path to Cloud-Based Backup

Many organizations today require 24x7 access to the data they need to run their operations. According to a recent survey, when IT teams modernize their data centers, high-speed recovery and data loss avoidance are the two most sought-after capabilities. Eliminating any "availability gap" is the aim; however, cost and lack of skills are often a roadblock.

The cloud has emerged as an attractive option for backup, allowing organizations to achieve optimal protection for their data in an affordable, scalable and efficient way. Market research shows that cloud backup is the most rapidly growing area of cloud storage adoption. While many IT teams acknowledge the benefits of moving to a cloud-based data backup model, they are nervous and reluctant. As such, they continue to fall back on antiquated models like tape, which are inherently far less secure and reliable. Here are five perceived drawbacks that are preventing many organizations from moving head:

The Initial Data "Seed"
Many organizations have gone for such a long time without properly backing up their data that now the prospect of doing so - and an initial data transfer - is anxiety-provoking. It's like someone who bought a small house and never bought home owner's insurance. Over the years, this person continually added on and on and on to the house, and now the cost and work associated with adequately protecting that house is daunting.

It's true that an initial data transfer can come with high network costs, long transfer times, and can cause problems for production systems. For example, the highly mission-critical data in most production systems should be backed up on a daily, if not hourly, basis. To initiate cloud-based backup for these systems, companies can use techniques like log-shipping over high-speed Internet or mirroring. There are also mechanisms with SAN and virtual technologies to keep data that's far away almost up to the minute. But these techniques are all very expensive and require tremendous expertise to set up and maintain, and will inevitably impact production environment performance.

Fortunately, industry advances are making the initial data seed process simpler and faster than ever, removing a major obstacle to realizing the benefits of cloud-based backup. AWS Snowball is one example. This is a petabyte-scale data transport solution that uses secure appliances to transfer large amounts of data into and out of AWS. Using Snowball addresses common challenges with large-scale data transfers including high network costs, long transfer times, and security concerns. Cloud-based backup services are now integrating with tools like AWS Snowball.

Inoperability with Existing Storage Tools and Systems
Many organizations, particular smaller ones, have storage and backup tools they already use and like and they may not want to throw out the baby with the bath water. One example is NAS. Ideally, cloud-based backup should offer interoperability with these types of on-premise storage devices, allowing businesses to exploit the benefits of cloud backup without having to fundamentally change the way they store data.

NAS is an interesting example because while it is mainly a storage device, it's often used for data backup, one advantage being exceptionally fast recovery time. Using NAS and the cloud as an additional layer of protection can yield comprehensive protection for data with particularly low RPOs.

Productivity
In data back-up processes, productivity concerns are often paramount and the end-to-end job can be described as tedious at best. Due to growth in data volumes, IT workers are spending an increasing amount of time backing up systems and securely storing trading logs, e-mail, and other communications. This time that had been spent dealing with the logistics of backup could be better spent on many other pressing business problems. It's not uncommon for a backup to dominate on or two people for several days.

Cloud backup can change this paradigm, and the good news is IT teams don't have to manage it nearly as much. Paradoxically, the bad news is that they don't get to manage it, and the benefits are often offset by having to work on the cloud vendor's terms, dealing with their new interfaces, schedules and so on. Cloud vendors like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud provide interfaces for their services like storage and cloud computing. They also usually provide some guidelines on how to set up a proper backup process, but this is not a turnkey solution and involves a lot of learning and configuration to set everything properly.

Today, services are available to help remove all the hassle from configuring a proper cloud backup, and these don't require any IT administration or cloud technology expertise. These services are a good option for small businesses that don't have much of the dedicated IT staff and that want to leverage low-cost cloud storage for their data backup.

Vendor Lock-In
Moving to the cloud should be about increasing choice, not decreasing it. But that's not necessarily always the reality right now. Fear of cloud lock-in often dampers adoption for all types of cloud services. Enterprise customers become convinced that if circumstances or priorities within their organization change, they will not be able to move their backup processes off a given cloud as easily as they put them there in the first place.

Cloud backup is not a standalone entity. For cloud backup to witness more widespread adoption, it must be flexible, allowing users a wide range of choice and allowing them to switch as their business proprieties change. Cloud backup services therefore must be extensible, not just facilitating integration with current storage infrastructures, but also offering broad multivendor support for backup.

Security Concerns
While the cloud offers many benefits for backup, several widely publicized breaches over the past years give organizations good reason to worry. The increase in cyber threats is not helping to assuage these concerns. Anytime an organization puts business critical data into the hands of somebody else, they need to be sure that it won't be compromised. The best way to ensure the integrity of the data - and put organizations' minds at ease - is to allow them to encrypt their data themselves, and more cloud back-up services are enabling this.

Conclusion
There are many benefits to be gained from moving to a cloud-based backup model. However, perceived drawbacks - including the initial data seed, lack of interoperability with existing IT resources, productivity worries, fear of vendor lock-in and security concerns - often prevent organizations from moving forward. The good news is, these no longer have to be obstacles. For organizations of all sizes, the benefits of cloud-based backup are well within reach, and their realm of possibility.

More Stories By Alexander Negrash

Alexander Negrash is director of marketing at CloudBerry Lab, a leading cloud storage service provider. CloudBerry Lab works closely with end-user companies and MSPs, moving more organizations to cloud-based data backup models.

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