Why organisations should consider cloud-based backup and recovery
Amrita Choudhury, Analyst, Software – Infrastructure Solutions
The last decade has seen massive growth in data volumes and there has been a corresponding seismic shift in the way in which organizations deal with data. While storage technology has become relatively affordable and improved, it has struggled to keep pace with the data growth.
Storage infrastructure expansion can be costly and is a continual process. Freeing up storage capacity is never an easy decision, with business requirements and regulatory compliance obliging organizations to have effective backup and disaster-recovery mechanisms in place.
Cloud-based storage has been a catalyst for major change in the backup and recovery arena. It also provides several benefits, including scalability, flexibility, accessibility, monitoring ease, and affordable pricing. Ovum believes that cloud-based backup and recovery is a viable proposition for many organizations, and could help mitigate one of the biggest headaches of IT departments and CIOs.
Using cloud for backup and recovery eases data-management pressures
Traditionally, backup and recovery has been considered an IT function, with businesses often considering it as a lesser priority. However, over the last decade, the transformation in business operations, IT penetration, and growth in consumerization have put tremendous pressure on data integrity.
Organizations now require efficient data backup, as well as a recovery strategy. Business continuity, regulatory compliance, and growing IT infrastructure management costs have also made organizations rethink their priorities. The conventional way to back up and restore data onsite is costly because of several factors including maintaining the infrastructure, labor costs, the increasing cost of real estate, and improving and adding more technologies and appliances, plus the risk of natural/non-natural disasters that could pose severe challenges to existing strategies and storage mechanisms.
Cloud-based backup and recovery, however, provides several benefits and can be an easy, simple, and cost-effective way to back up media/data off-premise. Clients pay a fee according to the volume (size of data), applications, licensing, maintenance, and how the data is recovered.
Using cloud storage gateways, backup providers can transfer encrypted data via secure network protocols to remotely managed data centers, and in one go the data is archived, backed up, and safe from disasters. Most solutions have a “snapshot” capability, making it easy to restore the data from another location in case of failure.
Cloud-based backup and recovery solutions also provide the capability to back up virtual machines. However, a strong management process is required to control costs and gain complete visibility into the way in which the growth in data is managed.
Backup and recovery as a service is a sweet spot for providers
Legacy storage vendors have ruled the market and enjoyed large market share in the storage backup recovery market for quite some time. However, as more and more software application providers, managed service providers, Internet service providers, and cloud service providers have joined the bandwagon, the cloud backup and recovery market has opened up with a host of affordable solutions.
Most hardware giants supplying appliances and applications to organizations have their own dedicated software that doesn’t support third-party solutions. This has provided an opportunity to new entrants to come up with solutions which are hardware-agnostic.
Cloud services providers also see this as an opportunity because cloud-based solutions can reduce capex and be more flexible. As a result, new providers offering cloud-based backup and recovery services and solutions are flourishing. There is a choice of public, private, and hybrid cloud backup and recovery solutions. Backup and recovery choices include tape-to-tape, tape-to-cloud, disk-to-disk, disk-to-cloud, and cloud-to-cloud.
Backup and recovery are also provided for virtual environments, hypervisors, and bare-metal restore. They often provide organizations with certain amount of free storage capacity, along with deduplication, compression, high-availability data replications, snapshot, automatic tiering, and software support to third-party enterprise applications or appliances.
Ovum believes that the cloud-based backup and recovery market will mature and there will be consolidation, with storage giants acquiring niche providers to enable them to grow at a faster pace.
Cloud-based backup and recovery needs careful consideration
Cloud-based backup and recovery is something that organizations should evaluate and have a clearly defined strategy for. It can be a secure and affordable option, but merely shifting the data to the cloud could prove hazardous. Critical factors such as data security, application consistency, data protection, size of data, unclear SLAs, and support are some of the issues that organizations need to be aware of when selecting a cloud provider. Ovum believes that organizations should first think through what kind of data it needs to put on the cloud and how often it might be used.
The adoption of cloud backup, however, will increase and as data volumes continue to soar, the appeal of offloading primary storage to the cloud will also increase as greater numbers of customers start to use cloud storage for primary or working copies of data, rather than just backup.
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