Cloud Backup: Instead of tape and now for SMBs?

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1 Cloud Backup: Instead of tape

2 SMBs basically have the same data backup and recovery needs of larger organizations. Their data is no less important. And thanks to some new backup products from vendors geared toward SMBs, there are many choices available even backup-as-a-service offerings via the cloud. This E-Guide will walk you through the different SMB backup options now available as well as the pros and cons of cloud storage, recent developments in this technology and if it could replace tape media. some organizations By John Hilliard, Assistant Editor Cloud backups involve placing data on off-site storage that is owned and maintained by a third-party vendor who charges a fee based on the service level provided to the user. This tutorial will walk you through the pros and cons of cloud backups as well as recent developments in the cloud backup space. Proponents of cloud backups say this approach offers greater flexibility and reliability when using data because users can leverage the benefits of scale by using a cloud vendor s infrastructure, as well as the vendor s experience in maintaining storage resources. One of the main challenges associated with cloud backups comes with the initial upload because moving a significant amount of data over a wide area network (WAN) can be time-consuming. Some cloud backup vendors try to address this shortcoming by mailing a storage device to backup customers, who load the device with their data and send the unit back to the vendor. After the initial backup, only changes are saved, so not much data is being sent over the WAN. Many products also employ source-side deduplication to further reduce the amount of data being backed up. In the case of disaster Page 2 of 10

3 recovery, a vendor s service agreement may include provisions for delivering a storage device loaded with a customer s backup to the customer s site. Lauren Whitehouse, a senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said one of the biggest developments in cloud backup is the range of devices that are compatible with the technology. A lot of the online backup vendors are making data accessible from [a variety of] devices. So if I back something up from my laptop computer, but I want to access it on my tablet or my handheld device, I can do that. I can actually recover it to that device. So that s just showing that users want to have more access and portability [with] their data, and they re using online backup applications to get it, she said. Editor's note: For more information on choosing a cloud backup service check out our tip, Cloud backup provider checklist: Criteria for choosing a cloud service. Legacy backup providers offer cloud option Legacy backup software vendors that offer a cloud option include Commvault and Symantec that target the enterprise, while others have products aimed at smaller-scale customers. Often vendors will design their products to work with a specific cloud vendor for example, Symantec s NetBackup designed to work with Nirvanix cloud service. Whitehouse said it s significant that legacy backup software providers offer an option to keep data in the cloud. Those companies that are moving from a tape-centric to a disk-based backup strategy are looking for ways to off-site copies without having to create tapes. A cloud repository can be a low-cost way to store copies for long-term retention, she said. Editor's note: To learn more about how traditional backup tools are evolving, check out our podcast Data backup tools evolve with cloud, vstorage APIs and source dedupe. Page 3 of 10

4 Cloud services evolve to include high availability features Growing beyond backup, cloud resources are increasingly being eyed as an option for disaster recovery, Whitehouse said. Very recently, Axcient introduced a disaster recovery service for their customers. So they came to market strictly as a backup software-as-aservice provider, but now they ve enabled through their infrastructure, the ability to actually fail over applications to their cloud. So I have not only the backup data located in the Axcient data center, but now I can spin up a virtual machine and have a [version] running in a virtual machine in Axcient s data center and be able to access my data and be able to actually recover a system from the cloud, she said. Another option is Amazon s S3 cloud, which she said is further along with such services, which gives customers the ability of running instances of applications using their own data all within the cloud. It s all on-demand, I don t have to have a data center I don t have to have all that equipment sitting idle until recovery, said Whitehouse. I don t have to lay out a lot of capital, whether we re talking about hardware or software licenses, and I don t have to have the operational overhead of renting [necessary] space and people to do operational recovery. It s all done for me on-demand and I m just going to pay for the resources that I use for the time that I use them. Cloud vendors like Amazon offer public cloud storage options or organizations can create and manage their own private clouds. But Whitehouse said customers can create virtual private cloud backups as well, while addressing issues like data security. If you re nervous about having your data in a shared infrastructure, like Amazon, you can actually create a virtualized private cloud. So I can actually carve out part of the Amazon public cloud, and make it my virtual private network that I can access through my private VPN. So I can have my levels of security, nothing of mine will be comingled with anyone else s, but I still get the benefits of scale of the Amazon infrastructure, she said. Page 4 of 10

5 Editor's note: Disaster recovery in the cloud explained offers more information on cloud DR services. Who s adopting cloud backup? According to a Gartner Research study published in October 2011, the financial services industry has made cloud-based services like backup and recovery a top priority. In a survey of more than 2,000 CIOs of financial services firms, 39 percent told pollsters that they expected about half of all transactions will be supported by cloud infrastructure and software as a service by 2015, according to a Gartner press release. Early cloud adoption, especially in the financial services sector, may have been limited to non-core areas and proofs of concept, but it is set to go mainstream, moving the heart of the business, transaction origination and processing, into the cloud, wrote Gartner Managing Vice President Peter Redshaw in the statement. In an ESG study published in May 2011, a survey of more than 600 senior IT professionals, researchers found more than 80 percent of respondents have plans to use cloud-based services over the next five years. While the scope of those cloud services aren t seen as having a significant effect on current IT operations at the moment, there is the potential for growth. The infrastructure-as-a-service model, which can include cloud backups and other functions, is used by about 17 percent of survey respondents, while another 18 percent said they planned to use IaaS. An additional 26 percent of survey participants told ESG they are interested in IaaS. Editor's note: Firms see public cloud storage as tape alternative in remote sites details how two organizations deployed cloud backup as a tape replacement. Page 5 of 10

6 Could cloud unravel tape? While tape archiving technology continues to be the focus of development, the technology still has the drawbacks of being physically transferred from a customer s location to a long-term archival site, as well as the technological investment in creating and utilizing tape to retrieve data. Whitehouse noted that ESG studies have found that tape use is decreasing significantly while cloud backup is expected to grow over the next few years. People don t want to deal with tape if they don t have to, and cloud could be a great alternative to tape, she said. Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) basically have the same data backup and recovery needs of larger organizations. Their data is no less important. And thanks to some new backup products from vendors geared toward SMBs, there are many choices available in the form of disk, continuous data protection, backup appliances, and even backup-as-aservice offerings via the cloud. In Lauren Whitehouse's latest Storage magazine column, learn about how to choose the best SMB, products in this space, and why disk backup is a good for SMBs. The only big difference between the computing environment of a large organization and a small one is scale. The paradox is that any type of disruption to computer systems or loss of access to data for an extended period of time while a nuisance in a larger company could be detrimental to an SMB. In either case, it s imperative to protect system and data assets. But what s the best approach for smaller organizations? While less likely to be challenged by the backup window and recovery time objective (RTO) issues faced by larger counterparts, smaller organizations are characterized by limited IT staff and budgets. Therefore, keeping data Page 6 of 10

7 protection simple and cost-efficient is crucial. There are a number of backup solutions and approaches that meet these criteria for smaller firms. A switch to disk Storing backup copies on tape is still a preferred method in smaller firms. In a survey of 441 data protection professionals, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) found that a tape-only backup strategy in companies with fewer than 1,000 employees is more predominant than in firms with more than 1,000 employees (by a 3:2 margin). Tape is a cost-efficient, long-term storage media, but its use can slow recovery and require operator intervention. Leveraging disk in backup processes not only speeds backup and recovery, it opens up a lot of options for capturing copies for system and data protection. While the adoption of disk storage requires a CapEx investment, OpEx savings make tape replacement with disk more palatable. For that reason, more SMBs should focus on the cost justification for a switch to disk. Simplify backup and recovery processes Keeping things simple starts with the way backup and recovery is accomplished. One approach is to capture a complete image of the system, including the operating system, application software, system state and data. Image- or system-level backup accelerates the process vs. a file-by-file inspection. The real advantage, however, is in the recovery process because the system can be rapidly recovered from bare metal. Vendors such as Acronis, CA and Symantec offer disk-imaging products that allow IT to clone a whole disk image and rapidly restore it as a whole. For virtual environments, Veeam and Quest Software vranger offer similar functionality. Continuous data protection (CDP) technology is another appealing approach for smaller organizations because it can capture data modifications continuously to enable recovery from any previous point in time. CDP captures block- or file-level changes, mirroring data to the CDP server, which is typically an appliance. The beauty of CDP is that in the event of disruption on a primary system, the technology eliminates the need for a mandatory restore. The CDP appliance can operate as the primary vehicle temporarily. CDP solutions vendors include CA, FalconStor, IBM, Quest Software and SonicWall. Page 7 of 10

8 Some s offer semi-continuous backup in seconds-to-minutes intervals. Microsoft, Symantec, Syncsort and Unitrends deliver CDP-like functionality as they re based on snapshot technology rather than continuous capture. These solutions take snapshots at intervals as frequently as every few seconds, but for small organizations even hourly capture is reasonable and more cost-effective. A snapshot-style approach to backup isn t limited to software-based solutions. There are plenty of storage systems vendors promoting backup via snapshot, including Dell, NetApp and Nimble. Physical and virtual appliance packaging Packaging data protection in an appliance form factor simplifies the procurement and deployment of backup and recovery. Appliance-based solutions are pre-assembled with the necessary compute, storage, software and network interface components, taking the guesswork out of configuring and acquiring piece parts, and offering a more plug-and-play installation and configuration experience. And, since appliances are purpose-built for processing, they don t disappoint on performance. Arkeia, Barracuda Networks, Dell, EMC, FalconStor, Hewlett-Packard, i365, QuorumLabs, SonicWall, Symantec and Unitrends are just a few of the vendors enabling appliance-based data protection deployment. A virtual appliance eliminates the need for physical appliance packaging, and delivers the ultimate simpler and cheaper data protection experience. It s a preinstalled, preconfigured, fully tested application with an operating system tailored to run that application delivered in a virtual machine. The aim is to eliminate the materials, installation, configuration and maintenance costs associated with running complex stacks of software. A virtual appliance is an attractive approach to deploying applications because it improves resource utilization vs. physical hardware approaches and offers more flexibility in configuring high availability, load balancing and business continuity. Virtual appliances for data protection include those from Arkeia, EMC, FalconStor and PHD Virtual Technologies. SaaS and cloud storage The discussion of a simpler and more cost-efficient data protection strategy would be incomplete if it didn t include a cloud option. Backup Software-as-a- Page 8 of 10

9 Service (SaaS) and cloud-based storage are emerging as go-to SMBs s. Why? Backup SaaS requires no up-front capital investment in backup infrastructure and little to no administrative overhead. This approach takes advantage of on-demand resources available from a thirdparty provider on a subscription basis. Similarly, taking advantage of ondemand cloud-based storage -- rather than on-premises storage systems for backup copies reduces storage capacity requirements and lightens the load of storage administrators, lowering costs. There s no shortage of vendors offering backup SaaS. Those catering to the commercial sector include Axcient, Carbonite, i365, IBM, KinecticD, SunGard, Symantec, VaultLogix, Venyu and VMware/Mozy. For cloud backup storage, Amazon, Microsoft and Nirvanix have partnerships with a number of backup vendors to provide the backup destination for copies made with in-place backup software. Don t compromise No business should skimp on system and data protection, least of all one that could suffer some adverse impact on revenue or customer relationships due to system downtime or data loss. There are countless vendors, solutions and approaches aimed at minimizing this risk, while keeping complexity and cost to a minimum. Page 9 of 10

10 Free resources for technology professionals TechTarget publishes targeted technology media that address your need for information and resources for researching products, developing strategy and making cost-effective purchase decisions. Our network of technology-specific Web sites gives you access to industry experts, independent content and analysis and the Web s largest library of vendor-provided white papers, webcasts, podcasts, videos, virtual trade shows, research reports and more drawing on the rich R&D resources of technology providers to address market trends, challenges and solutions. Our live events and virtual seminars give you access to vendor neutral, expert commentary and advice on the issues and challenges you face daily. Our social community IT Knowledge Exchange allows you to share real world information in real time with peers and experts. What makes TechTarget unique? TechTarget is squarely focused on the enterprise IT space. Our team of editors and network of industry experts provide the richest, most relevant content to IT professionals and management. We leverage the immediacy of the Web, the networking and face-to-face opportunities of events and virtual events, and the ability to interact with peers all to create compelling and actionable information for enterprise IT professionals across all industries and markets. Related TechTarget Websites Page 10 of 10

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