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Hybrid cloud backup and recovery solutions are emerging as a key solution to enable business continuity 24x7x365
By: Dave LeClair
Feb. 3, 2016 03:00 AM
Examining Six Hybrid Cloud Trends in Disaster Recovery and Backup for 2016
In the ESG Research Report, "2015 IT Spending Intentions Survey," IT professionals list improving backup and recovery, managing data growth and using cloud infrastructure services as top IT priorities over the next 12 months. So it is no surprise that cloud-based disaster recovery (DR), business continuity and backup initiatives solutions are under close examination by many companies.
Hybrid cloud backup and continuity solutions, in particular, have a variety of benefits that can greatly enhance the depth and breadth of protection for businesses that need to stay up and running through all sorts of downtime challenges. It's now possible for a single backup and recovery solution to protect data locally and have multiple backup copies stored in various cloud locations. Local protection allows firms to have backups cached near IT for rapid recovery of minor issues, such as an accidentally deleted email. Storing multiple copies in the cloud provides geo-redundant disaster protection and failsafe long-term retention. While this was possible previously, the most powerful cloud recovery solutions today do this automatically and at a cost far cheaper than most companies can do it themselves.
Yet, as with all emerging technologies, sorting out the real trends from the marketing noise is a significant challenge. What are the trends in hybrid cloud DR and backup and what should IT professionals be asking of their teams and potential vendors as they consider a cloud-based backup and continuity solutions? Here are six main themes to keep in mind:
1. Low-cost cloud storage enables organizations of any size to easily get true offsite DR
2. Wide variations in cloud backup and recovery solutions
There is also varied functionality between vendors. Many cloud recovery solutions have simply taken existing backup techniques and bolted on a cloud extension. They are simply creating a mechanism to move copies of backups to offsite cloud storage that previously would have been stored locally or put on tapes and shipped to a vault. While this solves some problems by automating formerly manual processes of moving data offsite for basic DR, those solutions have not had the transformative impact that cloud potentially offers. Therefore, due diligence is required when comparing options.
3. WAN bandwidth concerns persist
As a result, it's extremely important to use granular continuity approaches that can mix local archiving with advanced WAN acceleration techniques. More than ever the backup and data retention strategy and vendor's ability to efficiently dedupe, compress and otherwise optimize the amount of backup data that needs to be sent over the WAN is important.
There is an alternative method to get the initial set of data into the cloud without having to wait days or weeks to transfer many TBs over a WAN called seeding. Physical seeding uses physical disks and overnight shipping to quickly create the first dataset in the cloud. Media, typically physical disks, is sent to the cloud provider to "seed" the initial full set of data and avoid the WAN challenge. However, not all vendors offer a seeding option and almost all charge a nominal fee for it.
Seeding can also be done in "reverse" and can be even more important than the initial seeding your data to get started. "Reverse Seeding," a.k.a. a Data Shipment Service Level Agreement allows companies to get data back within 24 hours in the event of a disaster. If the customer has a disaster and loses all or a large amount of their data, the cloud vendor places their data onto disks or a new backup appliance and ships it to the customer. A data shipment SLA can be the difference in having a recovery time objective (RTO) of hours vs. weeks for large amounts of data.
4. Understanding of cloud security is maturing
However, just as consumers became more comfortable with Internet banking, many IT leaders are becoming more comfortable with cloud security. To get greater confidence, IT professionals must ask cloud vendors about SSAE 16 and SOC compliance certifications. SSAE 16 effectively replaced SAS 70 in 2011 and is useful in validating security and other financial reporting requirements.
5. Moving beyond data protection to system and workload availability
6. Automating the testing and validation of cloud backup and DR
However, true recovery assurance solution are now available that can solve these challenges. With recovery assurance, IT no longer has to wonder if the backups are good and the applications will work properly in the DR environment when required. Recovery assurance ends the DR testing hell that many enterprises face. Infrequent, manually intensive DR tests are expensive and do little to reduce concerns about recoverability. Recovery assurance solutions automate the testing of backup and applications in the DR environment. By automating testing, IT professionals can test and certify, at the application level, that critical systems are functioning properly, providing IT with absolute confidence in the environments.
Hybrid cloud backup and recovery solutions are emerging as a key solution to enable business continuity 24x7x365. The mix of local backup solutions, combined with copies of backups in the cloud, plus DRaaS and recovery assurance can empower a company with absolute confidence to withstand almost any downtime event or disaster.
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