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Should I Use Cloud Backup or Cloud Disaster Recovery?

Sep 19, 2018, 18:00 PM by Trenton Baker

Cloud Backup or Cloud Disaster Recovery

Technically, the title is a trick question. It’s not an issue of using cloud backup or cloud disaster recovery, but under what circumstances you should either and when you are best served to grow from one to the other. Because when you store data in the cloud, you’ll end up needing both.

As reported by Forbes, cloud data that needs backup and DR protection, and requires it often. McAfee surveyed 1400 senior technical professionals for its Building Trust in a Cloudy Sky: 2017 State Of Cloud Adoption And Security report. Over 90% of the respondents indicated that by 2019, they expected to commit 80% of their IT budget to cloud applications and platforms.

A significant portion of that budget had better go to secondary workloads in the cloud: running cloud backup and DR to protect data recovery, application availability, and IT resilience.

What Exactly are Cloud Backup and DR?

It’s important to understand the difference so IT can protect the organization’s data and applications. First, cloud backup simply means a copy of your data is replicated offsite to a secure location. Data backup is obviously essential. However, it’s important to consider that your backup solution provides easy recovery for all your files, applications and retains functionality without complication or corruption.

Cloud Backup

Cloud backup is not terribly different from traditional backup. IT backs up on-premises physical or virtual data to a cloud target; simple enough. Then there is cloud-to-cloud backup, where IT backs up cloud native data from environments like SaaS and IaaS to another region or secure cloud.

Challenges with the Cloud

Courtesy of Veeam

IT needs to consider the speed and costs of cloud recovery carefully. Many organizations store backup in cold storage tiers on hyperscale public clouds. Long-term storage is cheap in these environments, but recovering larger volumes of data can get expensive. Additional factors in cloud recovery are the amount of data if you are restoring from these megacloud vendors, the availability of local storage if you’re restoring on-premises, and the option to recover to a different site from the original backup.

Although cloud backup is not as complex as cloud DR, we recommend that you evaluate a Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) strategy. The right MSP and partners will help you maximize your data protection investment by optimizing backup and ensuring recovery. Look for MSPs who do not exclusively work with the public clouds. Yes, it is true that these megaclouds can have benefits for some workloads but are often not your necessarily a sound economical choice for secondary workloads.

Cloud Backup Benefits
  • Reliable backup and recovery. Enterprise-level cloud providers already offer redundant architectures for reliable backup storage. You can get even more value by backing up your data to a custom-tuned cloud that is optimized for backup and recovery; no need to stick to the public clouds.
  • Save money. Save money by replacing costly on-premises storage and management overhead with the cloud’s scalability. Also, replace CapEx spending with a pay-for-what-you-use OpEx model. (Carefully manage this, or you’ll end up spending more in ongoing expenses than you would have spent buying and managing a storage system yourself.)
  • Secure your data. Backup vendors should offer encryption to backup and recovery data in-flight and at-rest. Also, your cloud provider should not have any access to your data beyond securing and protecting it.

Cloud Disaster Recovery

Cloud DR evolved from the concept of mirrored disaster recovery hot sites. The latter used to be the last word in modern data protection, but maintaining mirrored remote sites is expensive and time-consuming. Cloud DR enables IT to protect uptime with virtual failover environments.

Cloud DRCourtesy of CloudTweaks by David Fletcher

However, cloud DR is considerably more expensive and complex than cloud backup, and no company should pay for failover expenses (egress) for every application. Assess and designate your mission-critical and business-critical applications to assign failover options by priority. For example, critical financials application cannot afford downtime. Contract for immediate near-zero RTPO and automated failover in the cloud to keep the application processing. Be sure to include VPN access for credentialed end-users.

Again no one likes complexity, and for a finely tuned cloud DR plan, we implore the adoption of DR-as-a-Service (DRaaS). On your own you would need to have a virtualized failover environment, the infrastructure to immediately take over application processing, new connectivity between the failover side and users, the ability to efficiently failback, and knowledgeable internal staff who can jump right into a failover event. Frankly, that is a lot to ask for an event that may never happen. Treat DRaaS as the ability to maintain business uptime.

Cloud DR Benefits
  • Minimize downtime. Recovering applications and data to the data center might take hours to days depending on the scope of the disruptive event. By spinning up priority applications in the cloud, you can keep downtime to seconds. When your primary environment is restored, you can failback to the primary environments and resume processing with minimal interruption.
  • Save money. Replace expensive remote hot/warm sites with virtual failover environments in the cloud. Although cloud DR is more elaborate than cloud backup, it’s less costly than mirroring remote sites. It’s also far easier since your cloud provider provides the DR infrastructure.
  • Stay in compliance. Suffering a disaster is not an automatic pass for regulatory compliance. Regulators do not particularly care why data loss occurred; simply that it did. Stay in compliance by maintaining virtual DR environments as well as your backup in the secure cloud.

Cloud IT Resilience (ITR)

Today we have cloud resiliency or roughly speaking business continuity. Business continuity is evolving as cloud backup and DR continue to grow in prominence. Data Resilience is the next evolutionary phase of business continuity.

ITR is the ability for businesses to maintain production level operations even after a major emergent event. Resilience helps organizations take hyper-availability principles and integrate business continuity with the concepts of cloud data protection preparedness and disaster recovery. Application and data resiliency is key to building an elastic cloud data protection infrastructure.

For example, an accounting firm, unfortunately, is under 12 feet of water after a hurricane, all servers are lost, and it would be out of business if all the files were on local servers only. However, if it had a complete network of applications in the cloud, employees could continue to work from home or some other location, thus providing business continuity.

Cloud backup, DRaaS, and Cloud Resiliency are natural extensions of each other. Of course, the ideal scenario dictates that organizations of any size should adopt all three data protection strategies at some level.

It is now apparent that in order to sustain business continuity, CIOs and IT admins must prepare for unplanned outages and disruptive events from a position that is both proactive and preventative. This is becoming a critical process to increase enterprise uptime and confidence in a world in which IT pros must do more with less.

At a minimum, you need a mechanism to prevent data loss and keep it safe with the right cloud backup process. Next, you can achieve data availability by implementing a comprehensive disaster recovery plan based on your tolerance for downtime. To help ensure a hyper-available future, adopting a proactive and comprehensive cloud IT resiliency strategy is nothing less than imperative. The best way to obtain IT resilience is to prove it with real-life incident exercises.

KeepItSafe is positioned to build out your data protection strategy from cloud backup to disaster recovery-as-a-service, and add IT Resilience resources when you are ready. Don’t forget to review your plan annually and ask for a free assessment.

Readers of this blog post are also interested in this webinar:

No Backup Is an Island: The Value of the Cloud in your Backup Strategy

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