Cloud backup has emerged as a highly efficient method of off-site data storage that aims to protect valuable information. It has proven to be a popular alternative to traditional backup strategies, offering cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and on-demand scalability that organizations find appealing. By understanding the basic principles and strategies behind cloud backup, businesses can harness its potential as an invaluable component of their disaster recovery (DR) process.
What is the “Cloud”?
The term “cloud” or “cloud computing” refers to the delivery of computing resources and services over the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. It represents a shared pool of resources and services used for storing, managing, and processing data, all accessible via the web. Cloud computing eliminates the need for costly on-premises IT infrastructure, offering a more efficient and streamlined approach.
Understanding Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a data storage model where information can be accessed, managed, and stored in a remote cloud server via the Internet. The responsibility of maintaining and supporting cloud storage lies with the cloud storage provider, ensuring that users’ data remains available and accessible at all times. Key characteristics of cloud storage systems include:
1. Back-end support and maintenance are handled entirely by the cloud storage provider.
2. Cloud environments operate on a self-service basis, granting users direct access to cloud-based resources and built-in services without involving the service provider.
3. Cloud environments are elastic, allowing for easy scaling up or down based on the customer’s needs.
4. Cloud-based resources can be accessed over the Internet at any time.
5. Multiple users can share a single cloud environment using a multi-tenant model.
6. The cloud storage provider monitors and calculates resource usage, ensuring that users only pay for what they use within a specific timeframe.
Types of Cloud Storage
Different types of cloud storage cater to varying needs and requirements:
1. Public cloud storage is a multi-tenant storage environment created for storing unstructured and less vulnerable data. It functions as a global data centre where computing resources can be stored and accessed by the general public over the internet. Major public cloud storage vendors include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.
2. Private cloud storage is an exclusive cloud environment used solely by one organization. It is usually managed internally or by a third-party vendor. Private clouds are ideal for organizations that require full data control, customization, and high-level security. Prominent vendors in the private cloud storage space include VMware, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and OpenStack.
3. Hybrid cloud storage combines elements of both public and private cloud storage to form a comprehensive system. This approach allows organizations to leverage the services of both public and private cloud providers, maximizing efficiency in a virtual environment.
Understanding Cloud Backup
Cloud backup, also known as online backup, involves sending a copy of data over a secure network, either proprietary or public, to a cloud-based server. Third-party vendors typically provide cloud computing services, setting service fees based on scalability, bandwidth, or the number of users. It ensures minimal data loss by enabling on-demand backups. The data becomes accessible from multiple access points and can be shared among cloud users.
How Does Cloud Backup Work?
The backup process involves copying data from the production site and transferring it to a remote storage system for easy access during disaster recovery. Many organizations prefer cloud backup solutions due to their flexibility, ease of deployment, and on-demand scalability. To set up a cloud backup process, follow these steps:
1. Purchase a cloud backup service that meets your requirements.
2. Install the backup software within your IT system.
3. Choose the files, folders, and applications that you want to back up.
Once the configuration is complete, your cloud backup system is ready to use. Most cloud backup providers offer options to set backup schedules, manage backup files, control allocated bandwidth, and add new files as needed. Once customized, the cloud backup service operates automatically and continuously, minimizing the need for manual intervention.
Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Backup
Cloud storage and cloud backup are often used interchangeably, causing confusion between the two terms. Understanding the distinction is crucial when determining the services your organization needs.
Cloud storage is an additional storage system that complements primary physical storage, mainly used for backing up sensitive data. It involves transferring copies of critical data to a cloud-based environment for storage. Even in the case of accidental deletion from the production site, files remain intact in cloud storage, unaffected by alterations at the primary location.
Cloud backup, on the other hand, focuses on backing up specific data and storing it in a cloud storage system, typically provided by an online backup vendor. Cloud backup facilitates data synchronization between the production site and the cloud. The cloud counterpart guarantees precise reflection of any modifications made to the original data. It also facilitates storing full copies of protected data. The service continuously scans the virtual infrastructure, detecting changes and updating the cloud environment accordingly.
Cloud backup primarily serves the purpose of ensuring data recovery in case of a disaster, while cloud storage functions as a remote site for storing data, accessible to multiple users over the internet. Cloud storage systems also offer the capability to store cloud backups.
Advantages of Cloud Backup
Cloud backup services have gained popularity due to their numerous benefits. These are some advantages of applying a cloud-based backup solution in your environment:
1. Cost-effectiveness: The market offers a wide range of cloud backup services at varying prices, allowing businesses to find a solution that fits their needs and backup data volume.
2. Enhanced data protection: Storing data off-site provides advanced security and protection. In the event of a disaster, the primary site might suffer damage or destruction, but they guarantee the security of critical data.
3. On-demand access: Users can access cloud storage from anywhere and at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. This accessibility allows problem-solving through devices like laptops or smartphones, eliminating the need to be physically present at the office.
4. Automatic backup: Once configured, the backup process becomes fully automated. To utilize this service, users simply need to indicate the files they want to back up and specify the frequency at which the backup jobs should run. The backup system takes care of automatically and continuously backing up computer files according to the set schedule.
5. Scalability: Cloud resources can be easily scaled up or down to accommodate data volume changes. Organizations can add storage, memory, or processing power as needed, cutting unnecessary costs and optimizing resource allocation.
6. User-friendly: Third-party cloud storage providers manage and maintain the infrastructure, freeing up organizations to focus on their core business services and operations.
Disadvantages of Cloud Backup
Despite the benefits they offer, cloud backup services do have their downsides.
1. Trustworthiness of service providers: Since critical data resides in a cloud managed by a third party, it becomes essential to choose a reputable and trustworthy cloud service provider. Unreliable providers may introduce the risk of data corruption. In such cases, building a remote disaster recovery location with physical infrastructure might be a more advisable approach.
2. Bandwidth and latency: Smooth and fast data transfer between production sites and their storage depends on network connectivity and distance. Adequate bandwidth is necessary to facilitate efficient data transfer.
3. Security risks: The accessibility and sharing of cloud files among multiple users elevate the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches. It is important to ensure that the chosen cloud backup service employs robust encryption technology to protect data.
Implementing an effective cloud-based backup solution ensures constant data protection, remote accessibility, and rapid recovery in the event of a disaster. Cloud backup technology offers the flexibility to customize your virtual environment according to your organization’s specific needs without incurring unnecessary costs. By opting for a cloud backup service, you only pay for the resources you use. Making it a cost-effective solution for organizations of all sizes.