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6. Integrated cloud backup

Cloud backup has been around as a consumer service for years, and it makes a good deal of sense -- keeping an offsite copy of data is pretty much disaster recovery 101. However, in the enterprise space a number of roadblocks have hindered widespread cloud backup adoption. One of the biggest issues limiting its acceptance was that it required an entirely new backup approach and a cloud-specific backup application. But that’s changing, and a number of major backup software vendors now allow users to back up directly to the cloud.

CommVault Systems Inc.’s Simpana lets you back up to any cloud vendor that supports the REST protocol, such as Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Nirvanix or Rackspace. Symantec Corp.’s Backup Exec can back up to Symantec’s cloud, while the firm’s NetBackup has an option to back up to Nirvanix. EMC NetWorker can ship backup data to EMC Atmos-based cloud storage services.

“They’re trying to promote this whole style of data protection to customers who don’t have a second site where they might replicate data to,” said Lauren Whitehouse, a senior analyst at ESG.

Cloud integration with traditional backup products allows users to create onsite disk backups for fast restores, but rather than sending copies offsite on tape, they can now easily choose the cloud as an alternative for disaster recovery. In the event a large amount of data must be restored from the cloud, many services can ship data

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on an appliance or disk to a customer site. Other users might see it as an archiving tier, sending older data to the cloud for long-term retention.

Some data storage managers opt to continue to rely on somewhat outdated backup technologies mainly because switching backup products can be complicated. And there may be resistance to new data protection technologies because using them means adding a separate tool with the associated management requirements. But when cloud storage is so tightly integrated with a company’s existing backup application, those apprehensions quickly disappear.

The addition of a cloud option to legacy backup tools may be just the push that some firms need to give cloud backup a shot. Another backup technology -- continuous data protection (CDP) -- provides a good analogy. As a standalone product, CDP saw little adoption, but when it was integrated with backup software products that users were familiar with, it went mainstream.

“Backup and long-term retention use cases are good examples of where IT organizations can dip their toe into the cloud pool,” Whitehouse said. “It’s replacing the need to create tapes and ship those tapes offsite.”

 

This was first published in December 2011

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