Creating your Cloud based Backup and Data Recovery strategy
Data backups form an important part of an enterprise’s Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity planning (DR/BC). Traditionally the data was stored on tapes and physical media, at an off-site location, to mitigate the effect of the disaster. Saving the data on-site would have negated the benefit of having a backup, since there is a high probability that the backup would have been as compromised as the original. Now, the availability of cloud based backup and recovery services have created an option for enterprises to store at a virtual drive off-site, while reducing the CapEx and improving the recovery time.
The advantages of using a cloud based storage service include:
Reduced risks by geo-distribution of data. Now you can store your data in a geo-distributed way, cutting the regional risks significantly.
Economies of scale for the Managed Service Provider (MSP) who can then pass on the cost savings to you.
Conversion of CapEx (capital expenditures) to OpEx (Operational Expenditures). Cloud service reduces your initial capital outlay by doing away with disk buying expenditures, thereby putting lesser strain on your cash flow.
Data storage is scalable and elastic. Thus, if your storage requirements increases as your enterprise grows, your service can still handle the size.
Improved RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point objective). RPO and RTO are important terminologies in DR/BC planning and they respectively impact the time to restore the business function and acceptable time for which the data can be lost. A good cloud based backup and recovery plan can significantly cut both the RTO and RPO.
Here are some factors to consider before choosing the right cloud storage service.
Geography of the storage: You must talk to the storage vendor to understand where your data is going to be stored. This is very important for your disaster planning. For instance, if hurricane is a major threat to your primary data storage and your backup provider has its datacenter in Florida, then it might be a good idea to consider the alternatives. Ideally the backup storage center should not be affected by the same disasters (hurricane, terrorism, earthquake, fire). You must also be aware of the regulatory limitations in certain industries (like finance, defense and healthcare) that might prevent your data from being stored in an offshore location.
Public cloud vs Private Cloud: While public cloud can be a good option for small enterprises with lesser data storage needs, for a large enterprise it might not always be a good option. This is due to the need to transfer massive amounts of data over the Internet.
Knowing the versioning and execution of backup: You must understand how the data is stored and versioned. In some cases, the service providers might offer only full backups instead of a more smart incremental backup solution. A full backup is both time consuming and costly in terms of managing the storage and network bandwidth consumption. If versioning is available, you must understand how the versioning works and how it can be integrated with your data management.
Encryption and Information Security: The data stored in the cloud must be encrypted and you must know how the encryption keys are accessed. The service provider must also follow the industry standards to provide the best data security.
- Understanding the Service Level Agreements (SLA): When choosing the service provider, take time to understand their SLAs and make sure it is in line with your requirements. You must know the data availability agreement and the expected time to restore the content.
By Balaji Viswanathan
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