Effective data management is critical for cost effective data protection in the cloud
Jul 28th, 2016

Allen Mitchell, Cloud Consultant at Commvault Cloud Solutions Group EMEA

By Allen Mitchell, Cloud Consultant at Commvault Cloud Solutions Group EMEA

Cloud adoption has been somewhat of a slow starter in South Africa for a number of reasons, chiefly connectivity, bandwidth availability and costs. Now that these issues have been resolved, however, organisations are grappling with the challenge of understanding the appropriate level of cloud adoption for their business. The hybrid model has become a popular option, maintaining mission critical data on the premises and pushing non-core data and applications into public or private cloud solutions. However, while this approach offers the required levels of agility and flexibility to support digital transformation goals, cost effective data protection in the public cloud can prove to be a challenge, and there are a number of areas that can trip businesses up. Effective data management is essential to delivering a holistic, scalable solution for the protection of critical data both on premise and in the cloud.

The public cloud as part of a hybrid solution can offer numerous benefits to business, including affordable and highly scalable storage as well as high availability. However, it can also prove to be difficult to incorporate public cloud solutions into data protection strategies. The major reason for this is that public cloud providers typically only offer snapshot and replication for protection, which limits recovery potential. Other challenges include hypervisor portability and hardware lock-in as a result of deduplication appliances that limit the choice of cloud services and providers or force the addition of gateway infrastructure.  In addition, virtual machine sprawl can become an issue, as non-functional virtual machines are often not removed and thus take up a large amount of budget unnecessarily.

A number of tools are available to assist in dealing with these challenges. One such solution is cloud-based disaster recovery for tier 2 workloads such as financial or classified data, offering recovery on demand. This can help to significantly reduce the cost of disaster recovery facilities. In addition, there are tools and transport available for virtual machines to ensure that the right workload is pushed to the right cloud. The issue of public cloud data protection can be handled using reverse disaster recovery, which utilises on-premise infrastructure to back up and recover public cloud workloads should they be compromised or experience an outage. There are also a number of management tools that can be used to deal with virtual machine sprawl in both the public and the private cloud.

While cloud computing is undoubtedly becoming an essential business enabler in today’s fast-paced business landscape, organisations must ensure that they maximise the value of cloud solutions while maintaining data security. Effective data management tools are essential in ensuring that cloud solutions can be successfully capitalised on. Data management tools should provide visibility across data regardless of its location, including on premises, in the cloud or housed within various Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. In addition, solutions need to allow organisations to set policies that are aligned to the service level agreements (SLAs) for both physical and virtual systems. This enables business to leverage shared infrastructure management and reporting, delivering enhanced efficiency.

Another useful feature to look for is the ability to automate key functions that are critical to both on-premise and cloud-based disaster recovery. This includes hypervisor conversion, testing and reporting. Furthermore, solutions should permit the creation of automated workflow processes that support the service catalogue, and should provide vendor-agnostic support for the widest possible range of third party solutions to enable greater functionality and competitiveness.

At the end of the day, data is a critical business tool and enabler, and the need to both utilise and store large volumes of essential and/or confidential data both on premises and in the cloud makes data management more important than ever. It is therefore necessary to implement an effective data management strategy that does not tie businesses to a particular cloud provider. Organisations need to look for a holistic, scalable, agnostic solution. Tools and strategies must offer the ability to store, access and recover business critical data whether it is stored on the premises or in the cloud. Only then will businesses be able to fully leverage the benefits and opportunities of the cloud without the risk.

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