An integral part of a cloud-first strategy is to ensure your data protection technology keeps pace. If you don’t cloud-enable your data protection, then one of two things can and will happen. It will become a limiting factor in leveraging the cloud to its fullest, or as you race forward with your cloud strategy, your exposure to data loss will increase.
As with most technology, it is easy to claim that backup and data protection solutions are “cloud-ready”, but what does that really mean?
Broadly speaking, there are two categories of cloud-ready data protection solutions. "Backup to" and "backup in”. These are self-explanatory, referring to the process of using the cloud as a target for your on-premise backups in place of disk or tape, or backing up your applications that are running in the cloud.
As you build your own cloud-enabled backup strategy and choose your backup solution provider, it’s important to understand that the level of cloud integration that different backup providers actually achieve can wildly vary.
At a macro level, there are four “flavours” of cloud-ready data protection that you need to think about. The first two come under the heading of “backup to”, namely:
Backup as a Service (BaaS) – Backup as a Service describes backing up your on-premise applications and data to cloud. Be warned that the level of integration, cloud optimisation (which can significantly affect your monthly bills), recoverability, application support as well as supported clouds will be very different from one backup solution provider to the next.
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) – Disaster recovery is different to backup. It falls under the heading of replication, but it is still a type of data protection. With demands for fast recovery increasing, many applications now require this level of protection. The same rules apply as with BaaS, with extra attention needed for recoverability. Many solutions can replicate your data to the cloud in near real-time, but far fewer can actually achieve the fast recovery you would expect of a DR solution.
The second two come under the heading of “backup in”.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Protection – This usually involves making sure that VMs being hosted in an Infrastructure as a Service cloud are being protected by your provider. In many cases, your IaaS provider will have standard backup SLA built into their service. However, it is important to understand the details of this SLA. If it doesn’t meet your needs, they are often open to working with you to implement a custom solution.
Software as a Service (SaaS) Protection – Many people assume that when you consume applications on a Software as a Service model (e.g. Salesforce.com or Office 365), that data protection is “taken care of” by the SaaS provider. This is incorrect. While some level of data protection is included, the devil is in the detail, and it is rarely the case that the protection afforded by the SaaS provider meets the levels of protection that your business needs.
Companies that build their data protection solutions for a “virtual world” have the benefit of being cloud-ready from inception as their core clouds are built on virtualisation. Veeam is arguably the pioneer in this space. Their solutions address the four flavours of cloud data protection and go far deeper. This detailed paper by the Enterprise Strategy Group provides a deep dive into just how capable Veeam is in helping companies achieve cloud-powered data protection. You can download it here.