Cloud data backup solutions, also known as Backup as a Service (BaaS), have become increasingly popular in recent years. Yet, despite this, many organisations remain wary about using them. This article covers some of the advantages of cloud backup solutions and why they may be right for your organisation.

Why backup data?

It may seem like a daft question, but many organisations don’t really have a clear backup strategy. Most know that protecting

An Oracle StorageTek SL8500 tape library

Tape storage libraries, such as the Oracle StorageTek SL8500, provide the best long term protection but are beyond the financial means of all but the largest organisations – Image Copyright Oracle

their data, by backing it up, is a critical business strategy, but many don’t really know what data they are protecting or why. Most worrying is the fact that most companies aren’t backing up their data fully.

Data backups have three main functions:

  • Prevent data loss – Data can be lost due to accidental deletion, hardware failure or malicious third party actions (such as a malware outbreak).
  • Ensure business continuity – Whether it’s a minor event (such as a lost or broken laptop) or a major event (such as a fire) a robust strategy can reduce it’s impact minimising lost time and money.
  • Keep an archive – Many local or regulatory bodies require a record of data to be saved for later review if needed.

Why aren’t companies backing up their data?

Data backup systems can be complex and expensive. On premises solutions require heavy investment in backup systems to manage the backup processes, storage systems to hold the data and dedicated staffing to make sure that data is backed up correctly and that these systems are running properly.

For small and medium businesses, these costs can be prohibitively expensive meaning they often miss important data or use unsuitable backup media (such as removable hard drives, DVDs or USB thumb drives which lack key data integrity functionality).

Where cloud services are used, many organisations don’t read the fine print of their supply agreement; assuming that the supplier meets all their required backup needs. Although cloud services do provide sufficient data backup to ensure that the service remains online, they often don’t provide any form of archive.

So why use a cloud backup service?

Cloud backup services allow organisations to properly protect their data without having to invest in expensive backup and storage systems and staffing requirements are considerably lower as the systems require minimal monitoring. Instead of heavy capital expenditure on equipment, a monthly, pay-as-you-go model means you are only charged for the volume of data you back up.

Cloud services are also more suited to protecting remote workers and mobile devices as backing up data to the cloud is faster than via a VPN into a corporate network. Lastly, many cloud backup solutions are highly integrated with other cloud services, allowing you to properly protect your data held in those services and recover lost or damaged systems directly into the cloud, ensuring extremely fast disaster recovery.

Why are come organisations reluctant to use cloud backup solutions?

Despite the capital expense benefits, some organisations are concerned about using cloud backup services. The most common reasons are:

Having a large volume of data

If you have a large volume of data, moving it into the cloud can take a considerable amount of time into the cloud. To resolve this issue, most cloud backup providers offer a “seeding service” which involves the initial backup being done to a special backup appliance on the customers site, which is then sent to the provider’s datacentre, massively shortening the initial backup time.

Security

Many client’s are worried that sending their data to a third party provide means that they loose control of it’s security.

Security is a prime concern for all cloud service providers meaning that the security offered by them is usually considerably better than that of their customers. All the cloud backup providers that IXCG work with encrypt data before it leave’s the client’s site meaning it’s safe in transport and can’t be accessed by anyone but the client when outside of their network.

Backup/Recovery time

The time it takes to back up and recover data is key. Both should be as fast as possible so that disruption by the backup or recovery process is minimised. Some clients are concerned that  backup and recovery operations take longer via the Internet.

In reality, most cloud services are designed to work with on-site data storage meaning that recovery times are rarely an issue for day to day activities. Compression technologies, automatic indexing and the online-integrity checking (which makes sure that backups can be recovered when needed) means that cloud recoveries are much less effort that on-site backups and are much more likely to work first time.

Cost

Customers are often concerned about the cost of cloud based backup solutions.

When comparing cloud and on-premises storage costs, cloud can seem expensive but that is often because the true cost of on-site backup solutions haven’t been fully accounted for. Once maintenance, staffing, power, cooling, insurance, replication and floor space costs have been calculated, cloud backup solutions are often considerably cheaper than their on-premises alternatives.

Where archiving (long term storage) is needed, many cloud providers offer tiered storage options, where data is stored more cheaply on slightly slower storage systems. This means that data is accessible within minutes, rather than seconds, but as archive data access requirements are rarely time critical, this means significant savings can be made.

And, of course, ensuring that your data is reliably protected is always considerably cheaper than the disruption caused by data loss!

Summary

As with many cloud services, backup as a service has matured rapidly over the last few years to the point that it is often better than the on-premises solution it replaces. Care should always be taken to pick a cloud solution which meets the needs of the individual organisation, and to ensure that the correct data it being protected.

IXCG provides a number of Backup as a Service (BaaS) solutions from leading suppliers, which can either be managed by your staff or by our storage experts. As well as the services themselves, we also provide:

  • Data protection consultancy.
  • Disaster Recover (DR) and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) consultancy and planning services.
  • Data protection testing and procedure creation.
  • Cloud backup seeding services.
  • Remote monitoring and management.