By Gareth Tudor, CEO of Altonet
The data explosion is increasing demand for data storage, driving up costs, amplifying the risk of data loss or exposure and complicating disaster recovery plans and strategies. Furthermore, organisations are increasingly moving away from cumbersome, error-prone, tape-based backup solutions. As a result of these factors, cloud-based data protection and backup solutions are becoming increasingly attractive.
Cloud data protection solutions offer a combination of the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated cloud technologies to offer organisations a number of benefits. These include: fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data; reduced cost; on-demand, pay-as-you-go services; improved data recovery; and the ability to free up IT resources for more mission-critical projects. Cloud server backup solutions also reduce the complexity of data management, ensuring that data is automatically backed up safely offsite, to protect it for disaster recovery purposes. There are many reasons to move backup into the cloud and multiple benefits that can be derived as a result.
1. Achieve disaster recovery with secure offsite cloud backup
To ensure comprehensive data protection, data backups should be kept offsite, so that they can be restored in the event of a disaster such as fire, floods, burst pipes and more. Disk-based cloud server backup makes use of the cloud platform to automatically transfer data offsite for disaster recovery. Data can be backed up to off-site facilities in real-time, so no matter what type of disaster strikes, data can be quickly and easily restored as necessary.
2. Freedom from manual and complex tape backup tasks
Automating backup tasks using cloud storage allows IT staff to focus on strategic projects that provide value to the core business, rather than instituting and monitoring manual backups, reviewing logs and troubleshooting problems. Most cloud backup solutions are ‘set and go’, meaning that these functions operate reliably and automatically in the background. These solutions also standardised and automate the backup process throughout the organisation, meaning that the backup function can be centralised, freeing up IT staff at satellite locations. Moreover, a single backup application can be used to protect both virtual and physical servers, and web-based tools can be used to manage and monitor all aspects of server data protection.
3. Predictable costs for simpler budgeting
Cloud backup solutions can be implemented as a subscription-based managed service from reliable third-party providers. This delivers 24×7 coverage, proactive monitoring of data, instant scalability, predictable pricing and no requirement for capital investment into traditional backup and recovery technology. There are also no costs for backup hardware, maintenance or media with cloud backup, as the service provider bears the cost of infrastructure and storage devices, both now and into the future as customers grow.
4. Reliable and guaranteed data recovery
Cloud backup solutions automatically transmit any changes in files and databases to a secure, offsite facility for continuous backup. This level of backup is achieved with minimal effort on the part of staff, as procedures just need to be set up which will run in the background. This delivers reliable protection of organisational data. Advanced cloud backup tools not only protect recently changed files that are closed, but also capture changes in open files and databases, which often represent important enterprise data.
5. Minimised risks and costs of downtime
Data protection is not a single activity or a one-time event, but a complex workflow of interconnected processes that extend beyond onsite backup. Cloud server backup solutions offer a single, low-overhead solution that addresses the entire workflow, while at the same time reducing associated risks and costs. There are many benefits, including: fast, comprehensive and continuous data backup; automatic and immediate transmission to an offsite location; secure storage that reflects an organisation’s specific retention scheduling and policies; and rapid recovery at the required level of granularity. In the event of disruption or disaster, organisations can therefore restore to a point of time mere moments before the interruption occurred – or further back – reducing the cost and effect of downtime.
6. Fast data recovery and restore
Cloud server backup immediately moves data offsite and into the cloud, which means that data can be rapidly restored. Fast recovery is optimised using a web interface, helping to recover very quickly from data corruption or hardware failure, which are the most common causes of data loss. Cloud backup from certain suppliers also allow control over how much bandwidth is used at any specified time for effective planning and management of workloads and data flows, which is essential in a country such as South Africa where bandwidth is often restricted because of high costs. Optional onsite rapid recovery appliances further speed the recovery process, and these can often be used to transfer bulk data, such as entire servers, back from the offsite copy.
7. Take advantage of service provider’s expertise and resources
Using a reliable cloud backup provider means that organisations can leverage the provider’s expertise and niche skills to securely protect and provide uninterrupted access to all data. Service providers not only bear the cost of infrastructure, but are usually bound by SLAs to deliver updated technology as disk-based backup evolves. This gives organisations flexibility as they grow and change. It also helps to achieve significant competitive advantage by harnessing the power of the latest technology, infrastructure and scalability that a cloud backup service provider delivers.
8. Offload regulatory compliance requirements to the service provider
Regulations, legislation and compliance protocol governing data protection, backup and retention periods can prove onerous for organisations to comply with. However, it is critical that businesses meet their responsibility to protect critical data assets. A reliable cloud backup solution helps organisations to demonstrate consistent, repeatable processes and controls for information protection, with management tools to allow control of archiving features, thereby ensuring compliance with organisations and regulatory rules and policies.
9. Well-managed, secure cloud
Enterprise servers manage vast amounts of sensitive data, from customer information to employee records, intellectual property and more. Protecting this data requires more than just backup, it needs encryption as well. A reliable cloud server backup provider will ensure that data is encrypted before it is moved through a secure cloud channel, and will ensure that this data remains encrypted at the offsite location. Only authorised users with the correct keys will be able to access and decrypt this data.
10. Ease of setup and use, no training required
Traditional tape based backup and recovery can be time consuming and onerous. Two of the greatest benefits of best-practice cloud server backup suppliers are the ease of use and wide range of controls that these solutions offer users during recovery. Users can choose functions that occur automatically, and still retain the ability to manage and monitor the entire backup and recovery process, anywhere, any time. Restores can be conducted back to the original site, or to a different site, and the files for restoration as well as the location can be easily selected. The level of protection can also be selected for different data types on a per-server or even per-folder basis. All of these processes can easily be managed using an intuitive web interface that requires minimal technical assistance.
Backup and restore capabilities are critical for business continuity in today’s real-time, digitally driven world. However many organisations fail to identify critical vulnerabilities in existing data protection methods until it is too late. Cloud server backup solutions automatically protect mission-critical data from both natural and man-made disasters, virus attacks, human error, equipment failures and other disruptions. Moving backed-up data to best-practice cloud suppliers offers a number of efficiency, risk management and cost saving benefits, and can help organisations to ensure that, in the event of a disaster or disruption, they can get back to business as usual in the shortest possible time.