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I covered next-generation data protection (NGDP) in an earlier post which showed how the need for rapid access is driving new backup strategies. What I’d like to focus on now is how NGDP is impacted by the cloud.

What’s driving backups in the cloud?
Organizations have traditionally owned their entire backup solution—hardware, software, tape drives, tape, appliances, etc. But challenges with traditional backups are driving organizations to consider cloud backup:

  • Cost – Owning equipment and software outright is expensive and capital-intensive. For example, because virtual tape libraries (VTLs) are a single point of failure, you’d need multiple appliances and/or tape to back up the backup (disk-to-tape or disk-to-disk-to-tape). This is not only costly, in terms of capital, but it can be labor-intensive, too. Remember the 3-2-1 rule: 3 copies, 2 different media, one copy off-site. 
  • Risk – With magnetic tape, data must be physically backed up to tape and driven to an off-site location. The potential risk involved is considerable: corruption, destruction, theft, etc. VTLs offer greater physical security, but full protection requires replicating that VTL to another site, which is not only expensive, but pins the recovery to that site. 
  • Interoperability – As organizations move their key business apps to the cloud—ERP, CRM, productivity, etc.—to streamline their businesses, their on-premises backup systems don’t port easily to the cloud. A cloud-specific backup solution can better support cloud-based business apps.

Today’s organizations want the benefits of the cloud: consumption-based costs, greater resiliency, less administration and improved access. Tying up capital and labor in backup and disaster recovery—and exposing your organization to unnecessary risk—takes away from the core business. So the goal is to operationalize costs and instantly provision recovery gear.

Economics of cloud backup
Today’s cloud vendors have different tiers of storage with different cost structures. Understanding these cost structures can help your organization make decisions about cloud backup services.

Typical Retention Cost
Primary data (hot) < 14 days Costs much more to store, less to access
Secondary data (cool) 14-90 days Costs less to store, more to access
Archive 90 days-forever Costs even less to store, much more to access

Backup data has a characteristic restore pattern. Most restores are looking for recent data to repair recent damage. Restore requests drop off very quickly for backup data older than a few days, with occasional requests for older data, typically reaching near zero at 30-90 days. Archived data is kept for retention purposes—what I like to think of as keeping data “just in case”—and is often accessed by lawyers (e-discovery), regulators (compliance), and accountants (taxes).

Cloud backup taxonomy
At a high level, you can either back up TO the cloud or perform backup IN the cloud. I created this cloud backup taxonomy to show you the potential flavors of cloud backup.

Advantages/Disadvantages Typical use
Backup TO the cloud
On-premise backup software with direct copy/migrate to Public Cloud object storage, such as AWS S3 or Microsoft Azure Blob
  • Cheaper than other options
  • Really just an off-site, bunker copy of the data
  • Simple to implement and manage
  • Retention/compliance
  • Last resort disaster recovery
On-premise backup software with copy/migrate to a Public Cloud instance of backup software for offsite backup copy (DR is done somewhere else)
  • Data is available on premises, but can also be “turned on” and accessed in the cloud
  • More expensive and complex (server infrastructure in cloud)
  • Retention/compliance
  • Analytics/reporting
On-premise backup software with copy/migrate to a Public Cloud instance of backup software and disaster recovery in Public Cloud
  • Move disaster recovery from dedicated facilities to on-demand cloud facilities
  • Eliminate expensive BRS contracts
  • Considerable complexity
  • Prior use cases
  • Disaster Recovery in the cloud
On-premise backup software copy to Cloud Adjacent storage for Disaster Recovery in Public Cloud
  • Backup data is stored in a colocation facility with disaster recovery in the cloud
  • Moderate cost compared to other solutions
  • Enables DR in cloud where customer must maintain full control over data location
Direct backup to a Cloud backup service, perhaps with a cache/gateway device
  • Very simple to implement and maintain
  • Vendor lock-in
  • Simple backup and restore for smaller, simpler environments
Backup IN the cloud
Backup for SaaS applications
  • Not enough backup options for business needs
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • Salesforce
Backup for hosted applications running on public cloud IaaS
  • Can increase flexibility and reduce cost
  • Customer cloud applications are backed up

How Logicalis does cloud backup
Logicalis’ highly trained and experienced technical consultants and engineers provide a wide range of professional and managed services that focus precisely on your organization’s IT needs. We cover all the above cloud storage and backup scenarios, whether through packaged offerings or custom solutions. Services include:

  • Planning and assessment
  • Design
  • Acquisition
  • Configuration and integration
  • Deployment and migration
  • Management and operation
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Assets disposal

Learn more about cloud-ready backup solutions or call your Logicalis sales representative. Or contact us for more information.

Bill Mansfield is a Solution Architect for Logicalis US specializing in data protection and availability.