In Are You Taking the Right Approach to Backup and Recovery? Part 1 we covered many of the reasons backups fail, as well as the importance of having a backup strategy that fits your situation. Data storage needs are growing exponentially, which means more data also needs protecting for longer periods of time. Tape storage has traditionally been the primary media of choice when it comes to backup, but as storage needs grow, so does the amount of tape storage. Not to mention the time needed to organize, rotate and manage all those tapes.
One of the primary reasons that backups fail is that tapes are changed incorrectly or not at all. Not to mention the common enough problem of if tapes are even being rotated off-site on a regular basis. What would happen if your data center and all the backups were lost to a fire, would you be able to recover?
The Cloud for Backup
Cloud backup solutions have been available for several years and are growing in demand because of the disadvantages of tapes. They offer competitive pricing over other methods and are easier to manage than changing tapes. Cloud backups usually use standard cloud storage and an internet connection to replicate on-premises data to cloud storage. By using a cloud backup solution, the offsite backups occur on a schedule and can be structured to follow common backup routines, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. Most of the major backup providers all support cloud storage as there backup target.
Why the Cloud?
When using cloud storage for backup, there are several advantages to moving away from tapes. One of the biggest gains is there is no need to manage all those tapes. How often has the tape from last night’s backup been left in the tape drive? How often are your tapes rotated off-site? Are they ever sent off-site? Managing tapes takes a lot of time to keep track of and ensure they are being rotated off-site. Not to mention the length of time it takes to recall a tape from storage. That can get pricey.
Cloud backup storage is flexible and grows and shrinks as your data changes. Backups are sent to the cloud almost immediately, allowing more frequent backups that are sent off-site. Besides the automated schedule of moving data off-site, data can also be retrieved almost immediately. Since the data is kept within your cloud tenant, it is accessible from either on-premises or even in the cloud itself. Most cloud providers can also geolocate your data automatically, allowing your data to be replicated within your region but also to other regions. This is beneficial if an entire region becomes unavailable or data needs to be restored at another location. This not only improves redundancy but also can improve performance.
What About Security?
One of the concerns with using cloud storage is security, how the data is transmitted and stored. Microsoft has strict policies on data storage and transmission; they hold numerous industry certifications. Transmitting data to the cloud is typically done using HTTPS, a standard protocol that is encrypted using a certificate that ensures the sender and receiver are authenticated.
The storage of data is usually designated at one of the provider’s regional data centers. Most providers have international locations, which keeps data local, addressing some specific privacy and compliance requirements. Data can also be replicated to other regions if an additional level of redundancy is required. Most providers also offer encryption of your data. Encryption will add another level of security, if the drives your data is kept on are stolen, the data can’t be accessed without the encryption key.
For backup, using cloud storage is more cost effective, easier to use, more secure and simpler to manage than tape. Most major backup providers already support using cloud storage, minimizing any investment to configure your current backup solution.
In the next part of this series, we will be looking at the best practices for setting up, configuring and using cloud storage for backup.