Most organizations are unprepared for the negative data impact from unforeseen natural or human disasters. Every year businesses continue to lose millions of dollars in revenue from loss of sensitive information due to natural disasters and cyber security threats. Studies have revealed that small businesses affected by more than ten days of data loss generally had filed for bankruptcy immediately or within a year of the disaster. More than half of the small-to-medium businesses that manage their own networks are unaware of the breach when their network is compromised by a hacker. When you are dealing with technology and data, it is important for organizations to be prepared for unforeseen situations by taking advantage of backup solutions for business continuity. Such situations include theft, loss, corruption, fire, flood, hurricane, or malware.
Legacy Backup Storage Solutions
When choosing the right backup strategy, businesses have to take into consideration the constantly changing technology for backup, storage, encryption and recovery, as well as the type and amount of internal and external data in the organization. Data backup should align with the security and data management policies of the business. Two of the historically valuable types of backup are Direct Attach and Virtualized Network.
Direct-Attach Backup Storage is the most commonly used backup solution for individuals and small businesses, and it is comprised of external hard drives and portable storage devices with a few terabytes of data. Businesses requiring minimal backup may find this a cost-effective and simple backup solution. That said, there are potential risks associated with this solution regarding scalability, repetitive backup processes, and vulnerability to on-site disasters, including malware infections, loss and theft.
Virtualized Network Backup allows computers to share the resources of network- connected storage devices as a single storage unit. This system can manage, back up, secure and recover data with dedicated internal resources and minimum user involvement. However, organizations need to invest in setting up virtualized networks, sophisticated security solutions, and on-site support for operations. The physical storage resources should be spread across different geographical locations to secure and minimize the impact of natural disasters.
The New Entrant: Cloud Backup
Cloud Backup is also generally referred to as Online Backup or Remote Backup, wherein the data, including files, folders, or the entire contents of a hard drive, are regularly backed up to a remote storage server or facility that is accessible from the internet. Smart organizations of all sizes and industries, all over the globe, are implementing cloud backup strategies suited to their needs. Cloud backup solutions offer businesses the security of storing their data off-site in data centers managed by third-party vendors, while paying just a subscription fee based on capacity and bandwidth. Initially created for consumer desktops, cloud backup has now evolved to enterprise endpoint data protection on servers, desktop, laptops, and smartphones. It has also extended to protect physical and virtual servers. Cloud backup technology is more impervious to the risk of loss from fire, theft, hacking, or natural disasters and it can run in the background, without manual intervention.
There are many types of cloud vendors for organizations to choose from. There are native cloud providers, where the cloud is the focal point of the data protection process, and legacy vendors, offering the cloud as an add-on backup option for the purpose of data protection. Some service providers are software developers that use generic cloud services like Amazon, Azure or Google for cloud storage, while others have purpose-built cloud data centers with their own software and hardware to securely store customer data. In addition, there are managed service providers that are facilities specialists who generally use an off-the-shelf third-party software product to provide data protection for their customers.
Cloud Backup Strategies
Businesses turning to the cloud for data protection can opt for pure cloud backup or hybrid cloud backup strategies. Instead of traditional local backup, the data is copied and sent off-site to a cloud provider. With pure cloud backup, the data is copied directly to the service provider’s cloud and in hybrid cloud backup, the backup data resides both on your premises and the cloud, which smoothes out transport to the cloud and enables quicker restores when needed.
- Pure cloud backup – Following the initial installation of agents on machines, pure cloud backup services seamlessly integrate with the cloud in the background for automatic backups without administrative intervention. This solution can be implemented easily; it allows organizations the ability to easily scale with growth. And organizations don’t need any in-house IT department skills. However, there are bandwidth restrictions with pure cloud, so it may not be the right fit for large organizations with complex backup requirements. The rule of thumb is that if you need to restore large files that may take a long time to download, pure cloud is not the right solution for you.
- Hybrid cloud backup — Cloud vendors can provide a hybrid cloud backup solution for large organizations that deal with a huge amount of data and have the need for easily accessible restore operations. The cloud backup consists of an on-site network attached storage (NAS) appliance that receives backups from the data center’s servers and then synchronizes that data to the external cloud provider’s facility. If a restore is required, the data can be accessed from the on-site NAS appliance for rapid recovery of servers and the replicated cloud copy can be recalled on demand in case of a disaster.
Businesses can conveniently use cloud-based recovery for single-file restore jobs, while having the security of local backup for more rigorous recovery tasks such as full system recoveries. Do not overlook the importance of having a cloud backup strategy in your data protection arsenal, as cloud service providers have resilient infrastructure and durable services to keep your business up and running, despite any data center outage or disaster.
Know Your Benefits
There are many reasons organizations prefer using cloud services for data backup and storage:
- Safety–Data in the Cloud is secure and recoverable from the offsite backup location because it is not subject to the typical threats of fire, earthquake, flood or theft which can affect local servers. Vendors operate multiple state-of-the-art facilities with encrypted server systems and redundantly backup data using server clustering technologies, to minimize risk to your data in case of primary server failure. Cloud-based servers are constantly monitored behind the latest firewalls, protected with anti-virus software, where even logins are tracked. The data is encrypted during transmission and also stored in an encrypted format.
- Easy Recoverability–Online backup is accessible from anywhere, offering ease of data recovery. The encrypted data on the cloud can be decoded and recovered easily with a click of a button. Even if data is lost or deleted, through accidental user error, backups are available due to multiple levels of redundancy, with many copies of your data stored in different locations.
- Affordability–Cloud storage is built around the software application of a business so there are no capital expenditures for hardware, real estate, or dedicated IT staff to manage backup systems. Organizations only pay for the resources they consume. The costs are transparent and service providers offer inexpensive and affordable packages, sometimes with even recovery and disaster management.
Off-site data protection is a must because corporate data is always at risk from loss, malicious threats, accidents, or natural disasters and securing it off-site in the cloud can provide an additional layer of protection. Cloud backup providers tailor options for all kinds of businesses but before you jump in. consider factors such as security, operations to be moved to the cloud, total Cost of Ownership, datacenter distribution, and nature of Service Level Agreements. Just ensure that your cloud backup service fits your needs.