According to Gartner, the global public cloud service market will grow to $331.2B in 2022. By 2021, 90 percent of enterprises will be using the cloud. Many use it for basic services like storage and email, but infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) are also on the rise. With the ubiquity of the cloud, it’s easy to forget that whether you create data in the cloud or onsite, it all lives on hardware, and hardware can fail. There’s no certainty any data you store is safe if you don’t take the right precautions.
With cloud backup, there are two categories to think about: 1) principles for replicating onsite backups to the cloud. 2) Ensuring redundancy for data stored or even created in the cloud (i.e., backing up one cloud to another). Here are five best practices that cover these scenarios.
Understand Recovery Objectives
Without recovery objectives it’s difficult to create an effective cloud backup strategy. These two metrics are the foundation for every decision you make about backup. They also help define the actions you must take to reduce downtime following a failure event. Before you do anything, determine your:
- Recovery Time Objectives – How quickly must you recover before downtime becomes too expensive to bear?
- Recovery Point Objectives – How much data can you afford to lose? Just 15-minutes’ worth? An hour? A day? RPO helps you determine how often you take backups, so you can minimize data lost between your last backup and a failure event.
You need backups, of course. But depending on where and how they’re stored, it’s wise to make copies of those backups. If you back up one server to a storage device stored in the same location, they’d both be toast if your office flooded. The great thing about backing up to the cloud is you can move data safely offsite, away from anything that might affect your local physical storage.
Store backups locally and replicate them offsite for redundancy. Next, consider whether you should replicate those copies to another site as well. Cloud providers have their own redundancies in place, but they aren’t infallible. Don’t take chances. Back up locally, replicate to the cloud, and even consider mirroring crucial data just to be absolutely sure.
Consider Both Data Loss and Downtime
Redundancy should ensure that data is safe, no matter what happens. But that’s half the story. Businesses begin hemorrhaging money the second their systems go down. Data must be safe, but it also must be accessible.
Carefully consider how you’re going to recover and which events you may need to recover from. A natural disaster is a much different issue than hardware failure, and you need an approach for both.
How can the cloud aid you in recovery? As you research cloud providers, assess how long would it take to download a backup from the cloud then restore it to physical hardware. Does the provider allow you to spin up that same backup as a VM in the cloud? Consider how the cloud can help you thwart downtime in addition to preventing data loss.
Think About Systems and Data Categories
Data storage is cheaper than ever, but that’s no reason to waste space. An effective cloud backup strategy often includes a different approach for different types of data and systems. Ask yourself:
- Which data is most critical? You may want to mirror this data to a second cloud site.
- Which data should be archived? If you’re not likely to need it often, you may want to put it in archive storage, which is often inexpensive.
- What systems must stay running? Based on business needs, each system has different tolerance for downtime. Consider not just which data you must restore first, but also which systems take priority during a restore, so you can be certain they’ll be up and running no matter what.
Consider Using a Recovery Cloud
You may have your own data center. You may be an Amazon Web Services user along with millions of others. Whatever the case, it’s wise to consider whether the cloud services you use are enough. Many offer the basics but aren’t built for the complex needs of enterprise recovery. As you look at vendors for cloud backup, seek answers to these questions:
- How well does this solution integrate with your current backup solution?
- Does it offer archiving, mirroring, and other premium options?
- If a location you manage is wiped out, can you recover directly from the cloud?
- Is the solution easy to manage? Can you do it remotely?
- How efficiently do backups transfer and sync? Can you send seed drives to get data backed up there faster?
- Is there any way to back up and recover data created in cloud-based applications like G Suite or Office 365?
- Is there any sort of guarantee from the vendor that you can recover no matter what?
- Can you fail over a system or network? Can you do so without the vendor’s intervention?
- What does the vendor’s uptime look like?
- Does the vendor’s staff understand backup and recovery well enough to get you through a crisis?
Most businesses use a blend of local storage and the cloud. Your job is to make sure that no matter where clients create or store data, it’s backed up and accessible when they need it. This is no easy task, but using a cloud-based data protection solution will make you and your clients much less likely to lose data or suffer from costly downtime.
Are you looking for a cloud solution that makes backup and recovery simple yet powerful? StorageCraft Cloud Services gives MSPs the tools they need to create a flexible, profitable, and highly effective disaster recovery as a service offering. Meanwhile, StorageCraft Cloud Backup protects data hosted in SaaS applications.