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As an alternative to per-cloud integration via APIs, some backup vendors take advantage of cloud gateways for integration. Backup apps that don’t speak in REST interfaces can use the cloud as a storage repository via the use of a cloud gateway, such as those from Ctera Networks, F5 Networks, Nasuni, Panzura, Riverbed, StorSimple or TwinStrata. For example, an on-premises Riverbed Whitewater appliance can be deployed as a local storage target for the in-house backup application. It provides local deduplicated storage and automatic wide-area network (WAN)-optimized replication of data to a public cloud, including AT&T Synaptic Storage, Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Nirvanix and Rackspace. Some of the backup vendors implementing this form of cloud integration include CA, CommVault, IBM, Quest, Symantec and Veeam.

While the purchase of a

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cloud storage gateway appliance is an added cost, it can provide greater flexibility in IaaS vendor selection. This type of implementation, however, does have some drawbacks. First, IT organizations may have to adjust deduplication, compression and encryption settings. Deduplication, compression and encryption performed by the backup application itself would be redundant to the services offered by a gateway appliance like Riverbed’s. Also, retention settings for local and cloud storage are typically configured at the gateway appliance -- and not at the backup application -- which can introduce a layer of management complexity. Lastly, the backup application only sees the gateway device as the local storage repository; it’s not aware of copies replicated by the gateway appliance to the cloud tier, a situation that can delay recovery if the backup application requests data that resides only in the cloud.

Virtual private cloud integration

For IT organizations that have concerns about the performance and/or security of using the shared infrastructure of a public cloud but still want the economic and scalability benefits, a virtual private cloud (VPC) implementation may be more appropriate. A VPC exists within a shared or public cloud, and links cloud services with corporate-owned and -operated computing resources, but typically offers enterprise-grade security and performance. This option provides the privacy and reliability of dedicated resources with the rapid scalability and cost benefits of a shared-service model. The availability of a VPC will vary from one service provider’s IaaS platform to the next.

A variation of a VPC approach is also offered by some MSPs that have developed IaaS that’s based on on-premises-compatible technologies. Several backup vendors taking the non-public cloud stance in favor of MSP enablement include Actifio, EMC, FalconStor, IBM, NetApp, Symantec, Syncsort, Veeam and VMware. In this scenario, the service provider receives its tenant’s backups directly and maintains them on like infrastructure. For example, iland, an MSP, offers a hosted DR solution for VMware vSphere virtual machines based on Veeam Backup & Replication. Similarly, Verizon Terremark partners with NetApp to build out a cloud-based, multi-tenant backup solution based on NetApp’s storage systems and data protection portfolio. EMC’s cloud strategy is based on a similar model to deliver remote and replicated backup services. EMC MSPs use EMC Data Domain or EMC Avamar at the subscriber’s site for local protection, and replicate copies to multi-tenant configurations of EMC Data Domain or EMC Avamar at the MSP’s site for cloud copies.

This was first published in April 2012

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