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Backup & Storage|Cloud Computing|DNS|Security

What You Need to Know About Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery

Backup is the foundation of every business’ disaster recovery (DR) strategy and today many organizations are choosing to back up to the cloud. There are a lot of good reasons for using the cloud as a backup target.

The cloud has global data access that can service a geographically dispersed business. Cloud storage tends to be less expensive than local storage – and this can be an important consideration as most businesses are experiencing very rapid data growth. Cloud storage can also fulfill the requirement for offsite storage which can be used to recover your systems in the event of a site failure.

While cloud backup has a number of advantages, there are also several considerations that you to be aware of before moving your backups to the cloud.

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First, backing up to the cloud means that you are no longer in control of the backup media. Instead, the control over your backups is in the hands of your cloud provider. Next, cloud backups have the potential to increase your backup window. Backing up to the cloud means the backup data has to be transferred across the Internet which means that there can be both security and latency issues. The backup data itself needs to be encrypted as it is transferred to the cloud to prevent any unauthorized access. Backup and restore times to the cloud are also impacted by network latency which can extend your Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs).

To offset the network latency issue, some backup products offer features like data compression, deduplication and WAN acceleration that can vastly reduce the amount of data transferred across the Internet and speed up the backup process. One way many businesses have dealt with this problem is by having staged backups where an initial backup happens locally and then a later process copies that backup to the cloud.

This strategy offers several advantages as it facilitates fast backup and restore from local storage as well as providing an offsite copy of the data for DR. It can also insulate your application backup from the latency that might be incurred with backing up directly to the cloud.

Cloud disaster recovery (DR) has similar considerations. DR in the cloud and Disaster Recovery-as a-Service (DRaaS) can be especially useful for many smaller and medium-sized business (SMB) that otherwise might not be able to implement a DR plan.

Making a DR plan can be resource intensive and complicated which can put it out of reach for SMBs that are struggling to keep up with day-to-day demands. Utilizing a DRaaS can take away a lot of the heavy lifting required to implement a DR strategy bringing it within reach of many SMBs. However, one thing often initially surprises many organizations about most DRaaS services is that the recovery target is usually the cloud.

That means that after a DR failover has happened all of the business critical VMs and workloads will be restored but they will be restored into the cloud which can change the application’s characteristics and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Certain DRaaS features can make it easier for you to evaluate the impact of failover to the cloud. The ability to perform non-impactful full site failovers as well as selective partial failovers and failbacks can allow you to ascertain your RTOs and Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) as well as evaluate the performance of your applications following a failover.

Like cloud backup, network latency can affect the replication interval that you can support which can impact your RTOs and RPOs. This makes networking technologies like data compression and WAN acceleration important. The ability to orchestrate your recovery process is also vital because most applications have built-in dependencies. For instance, your domain controllers and DNS services need to be brought online before the applications and databases that require them. Orchestration enables you to control the recovery order of your VMs and services.  Like cloud backups, the ability to provide end-to-end encryption is also important in order to secure your private and sensitive information.

Like the old saying the devil is in the details, the cloud can be a great asset for backups and DR but before jumping in its important to be aware of the details that you need to know for a successful implementation.


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Michael Otey is president of TECA, a technical content production, consulting and software development company in Portland,
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