1 The Benefits of Integrated Cloud Recovery as a Service
2 The Benefits of Integrated Cloud Backup and Recovery Cloud computing is today s hottest topic in IT. Businesses of all sizes are trying to achieve more with less by looking for cost-effective ways to access or deliver software, platforms, infrastructure and a full range of computing resources through the ubiquitous cloud. Basic cloud backup has already become a booming business, but now fully integrated cloud-based recovery as a service (RaaS) is emerging as enterprise-class application of the cloud. But what do today s new buzz words really mean? Do customers assumptions about the cloud in general, and backup and recovery in particular, match the services that providers are actually offering? More importantly, can cloud-based RaaS improve the effectiveness of disaster recovery efforts, simplify processes and reduce costs? Yes, but only if customers can clearly distinguish between different types of cloud services. The cloudbased data restoration that many providers advertise today falls far short of the comprehensive recovery solutions that most customers need to ensure their business continuity. By understanding the minimum requirements for an integrated cloud backup and recovery solution delivered as a service through the cloud, customers will be better able to evaluate prospective providers of this vital new offering. What is the Cloud? Since its emergence in the early 1990s, the idea of the cloud has evolved into a marketing term that can mean almost whatever anyone wants it to, covering a wide variety of services. Forrester defines cloud computing as A standardized IT capability (services, software, or infrastructure) delivered via the Internet in a pay-per-use, self-service way. Today, cloud computing takes several primary forms: Software as a service: Businesses and consumers subscribe to applications and access them online. Platform as a service: Organizations deploy applications while avoiding the cost and complexity of hardware and software management, provisioning and hosting. Infrastructure as a service: Organizations buy entire physical, virtual or hybrid IT infrastructures (including computing, storage and network resources) as a fully outsourced service. Recovery as a Service: Organizations buy robust off-site data backup and recovery capabilities as a fully outsourced service.
3 The types of clouds are almost as varied as the ways that businesses can use them. Private, or dedicated, clouds serve a single customer either internal or external to the organization running them. Public, or shared, clouds offer customers the economies of pooled resources. There are also hybrid clouds with both public and private components, or those created for internal users but also made publicly available to external customers. Cloud Recovery as a Service Defined One of the most important cloud offerings available today cloud backup and recovery as a service integrates all of those features. It can be defined most simply as: The provision of software, platforms, and infrastructure to enable an integrated backup and recovery process, accessible from anywhere, at any time, via any carrier
4 In a comprehensive, fully integrated cloud backup and recovery program, backup software at the client s site collects, de-duplicates, and securely transmits full server images through the cloud to a backup and recovery service provider s site. The service provider stores the client s data on multiple mirrored disk systems and, in some cases, including an additional copy on tape so that if a disaster strikes, almost any virtual or physical replacement server can be quickly re-populated. Because the provider has captured the entire server image and not just data files, access to restored applications and data can begin in as little as one hour after the total loss of a single or multiple servers. In disasters that take out a company s workplace as well as its production data center, cloud backup and recovery offers the additional benefit of enabling employees to access their restored data and applications from nearly any remote location. Effective delivery and implementation of cloud backup and recovery as a service depends on several key enabling technologies: Access to the cloud provider. Data backed up in the customer s data center has to be transmitted offsite to the service provider. In many cases this will happen over the Internet, or the public cloud. But customers may also choose the additional security of a virtual private network or some other direct link. Whatever the case, the customer typically provides or contracts for network facilities and capacity adequate to meet its needs. Highly efficient disk-based backup. The latest generations of backup software now feature very high levels of compression and deduplication, so that the data being transferred and stored is only a small fraction the size of all the data actually being backed up. This significantly reduces transmission times and network resources required and also lowers backup costs when dealing with providers who base their charges on compressed storage volume rather than native backup volume. While there are many excellent products available today, no one product supports every environment. Unless a customer s requirements are based on a single platform such as Wintel, cloud recovery service providers should be capable of creating solutions that integrate multiple backup products and recovery platforms. Bare-metal recovery. When the time comes to restore and recover lost data, the original server may no longer be available. Therefore, customers need providers who can restore entire server images onto new systems, socalled bare-metal recovery. Today, that new system can be virtual or physical. Customers wanting the fastest recovery at the lowest cost should consider the capabilities of virtualization. Carrier-neutral network access. Customers with high security environments and unique bandwidth requirements may be best served by a private cloud to the backup and recovery service provider. This means your provider must be able to connect to your chosen network carrier. As obvious as this sounds, and whatever you may assume about the universality of the Internet, this capability is not always the case.
5 Aligning Recovery with Your Core Business Strategy, and Closing the Recovery Gap Just as cloud-based recovery as a service has evolved into cost-effective components of a business continuity plan, it is also enabling a new strategic view of recovery s role and capabilities. With the advent of the cloud, a company s recovery strategy can be driven by its core business objectives, not by the backup process. Until now, traditional IT disaster recovery models had been constrained by the limitations of old-style data backup. That is, organizations backed up all their data to tapes, which were then transported by truck to an offsite storage facility. The retrieval of the physical media to the recovery center and restoration of the data in turn determined the recovery point and recovery time that this strategy could support. This limited the mission of the organization s disaster recovery and business continuity efforts to what was tactically achievable rather than its actual business requirements. Cloud-based backup and recovery as a service enables the transition to a superior approach in which IT disaster recovery decisions are driven by mission, objectives, strategy and tactics. In this scenario: Disaster recovery is designed to support the organization s mission of fulfilling its core business promise. IT sets shorter recovery time and recovery point objectives for access to data and rapid return to operations following a disaster. The recovery plan incorporates strategic integration of cloud-based tactics into a fully integrated backup and recovery program.
6 For organizations that are trying to set shorter objectives for recovery point and recovery time, cloud backup and recovery as a service fills the gap between the matter-of-minutes recovery delivered by costly, high-end SAN replication and the multi-day recovery achievable with tapes and trucks. Cloud backup and recovery provides same-day recovery, restoring business operations in hours as opposed to days or even weeks, with as little as 15 minutes of data loss at a lower cost than tape-based processes. Cloud Recovery as a Service Closes the Gap Exploring the Cloud: Key Questions for a Service Provider Because cloud-based backup and recovery as a service is a relatively new offering, it pays to set aside conventional assumptions when reviewing providers and their service offerings. One common misconception is that the cloud is always on and always available, from anywhere, by anyone, with equal access for all. Another common misconception is that cloud data is always protected and easily retrievable, and that data restoration is the same thing as disaster recovery. Avoid such common pitfalls by asking the following questions of any potential cloud backup and recovery service provider. How reliable is their network? The cloud is the network. If the network stops, the service stops. While the provider has no control over the public cloud, it has substantial control over its connection to it. Does the provider maintain its own network infrastructure that connects directly into major Internet backbones and interexchange peering points? Is its network diversely routed to assure reliability and uptime? Does it include high-capacity fiber facilities? Can the provider cross-connect to your private network carrier and eliminate traditional last mile problems?
7 Does the provider offer an integrated service delivery model? Many companies say they provide cloud backup and recovery when what they actually provide is limited data backup and restoration across the public cloud. In the disaster recovery world, restoration and recovery are not the same thing. Backup does not mean back in business. Merely returning data back across the cloud is not a business recovery solution. In fact, considering that most companies size their access to the public cloud based on the relatively small amount of de-duplicated data they transmit each day, rather than the large amount of data they will need to restore almost instantly in a disaster, it is arguably a greater risk than traditional backup methodologies. A provider of truly integrated cloud backup and recovery services receives your data, backs it up on mirrored systems at multiple redundant and secure locations, and has the capability within its own facilities to restore data to multiple media or to fully functioning physical or virtual systems of all types. What is the provider s level of experience? How long has the provider been in the business of backup and disaster recovery before launching its cloud-based recovery as a service offering? What is its track record in actually helping enterprises such as yours to achieve rapid recovery? Has every disaster declaration by a client resulted in a successful recovery? Has every client received nothing less than its full, contracted level of services during a disaster event? Cloud backup and recovery as a service may be a new concept, but disaster recovery is a mature industry with experienced players available to provide high-quality service. What controls do they have in place? Ask about the provider s approaches to physical and electronic security, data protection, and chain of custody. How many copies of your data does it store, and how are they secured? Are the vendor s processes and internal controls regularly reviewed by third party auditors for safety and reliability? Will they make their most recent audit available to you on request? Have the provider s facilities and processes or staff been certified to standards such as FISMA, SOC2 PCI or the Uptime Institute? Where is your data stored? The cloud may be a nebulous concept, but your data has to reside on physical servers and storage somewhere. Where are they? If you re close enough to the provider s facility, ask for a tour. If that s not feasible, ask for a complete description of their equipment and facilities especially in terms of security, resiliency and maintainability. This is extremely important. Even ordinary maintenance of physical systems requires bringing them offline. To assure that your service will not be interrupted during scheduled facility maintenance or repair operations, ask if the provider s facilities are designed for concurrent maintainability. This means that the facility has sufficient redundancy in computing resources, network interfaces, and electrical, mechanical and cooling systems so that each element of the infrastructure that supports IT operations
8 can be taken offline for scheduled maintenance with no impact on the IT environment. The independent industry standards for evaluating facility resiliency can be found in the Tier Ratings published and administered by the Uptime Institute and only Uptime Institute Professional Services can rate and certify facility design and construction per the Tier Classification System. Don t let a provider try to tell you its facility is Tier II-plus or near Tier-III. There are no mid-tier levels and self certification is a sham. A facility is either concurrently maintainable or it is not, and if it actually meets the tier Rating criteria, it can be certified by the Uptime Institute. What about cost and terms? The most cost-effective and customer-friendly pricing for backup and recovery services will be based on the amount of data actually stored, not the amount being protected. Beware of providers who charge based on the amount of data to be protected, that is native uncompressed production data, rather than the compressed, de-duplicated amount of data stored at their site. Also, because your backup requirements may change as your business evolves, look for a provider that offers the flexibility for you to increase or decrease your storage requirements without penalty. Business today is more dynamic than ever and the combination of virtualization and cloud-based resources-on-demand has driven down IT costs. Gone are the days when a provider could require a customer to commit to a fixed number of physical servers on a traditional hot site contract for up to three years. In today s business climate, disaster recovery service providers must demonstrate flexibility in contract terms and conditions. Summary: The Cloud as an IT Disaster Recovery Solution Basic cloud backup and recovery is already an accepted and increasingly common solution for businesses seeking to get more value for their business continuity dollar. The on-demand availability of software, platforms and infrastructure as a service including virtualized hardware that can run many different operating systems speeds and simplifies recovery and drives down its costs because customers pay only for the resources that they use. For organizations seeking to meet shorter recovery point and recovery time objectives, cloud-based backup and recovery as a service economically fills a gap between high-speed SAN replication and slower tape services. As the concept rapidly evolves, a hybrid solution should emerge that combines cloud-based backup and recovery for a customer s most critical servers with tape-based, hot-site recovery services for less critical resources. The density and data transfer speeds offered by tape media have advanced greatly in the past several years. This technology, often written off by the proponents of online services, is making a real comeback in many disaster recovery plans because it makes the most economic and operational sense for restoration of large and/or second tier applications. The cloud offers exciting possibilities for more efficient and cost-effective disaster recovery, but only if customers understand exactly what they are buying. By asking service providers the right businessbased questions, customers can make better informed decisions on this vital component of a cutting edge business continuity solution.
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