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Recovery in the cloud

Integrating on-site backup with public, private or virtual private clouds is only feasible if uplink bandwidth is sufficient. A daily incremental backup of a 100 GB of data at a 10 Mbps transfer rate could take nearly 24 hours to complete. Upgrading to a 100 Mbps connection reduces transfer time significantly to a little more than two hours; however, bandwidth costs are often doubled. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of bandwidth optimization features, such as deduplication and compression. The only “gotcha” is that data in a deduplicated or compressed state in the cloud still has to be “reconstituted” and restored to be recognized by the production application. The data isn’t in a usable state for a

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cloud-based DR scenario and there could be a time delay if a bulk transfer of data from cloud storage needs to occur for on-site recovery either over a bandwidth connection or via shipped portable media.

One remedy to this dilemma is to recover in the cloud. Implementing a D2D2C strategy for a whole system in the cloud -- not just the data -- improves recovery time objectives. For subscribers who have virtualized workloads at their primary site, this scenario is straightforward. The portability of a virtual machine encapsulating an application instance streamlines whole system backup and recovery processes. Nearly all backup vendors support backup and recovery of virtual systems, so it’s just a matter of contracting for the compatible cloud resources to create a failover site.

Some vendors, namely Arkeia and Zmanda, offer a virtual backup appliance. This allows customers to run the backup server in the cloud and replicate data between the on-premises backup server and the cloud-based one. Data can be restored in the cloud or the cloud storage can be mounted for on-premises backup services. Other products such as AppAssure and Symantec Backup Exec can perform recoveries in the cloud. Symantec’s solution is limited to virtual environments, but AppAssure can protect both physical and virtual systems. Replication between the on-premises AppAssure backup server and an AppAssure Core instance running in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) makes it possible to recover in the cloud on demand. The ability to run the backup application in the cloud also helps organizations protect cloud-resident production applications.

Cloud infrastructure offers tremendous advantages to reduce costs and simplify recovery operations, especially for integrated backup. The on-demand, pay-as-you-go characteristics of cloud storage services are a perfect match for the D2D2C use cases for reducing or eliminating tape media and facilitating disaster recovery.

BIO: Lauren Whitehouse has more than 25 years of experience covering backup and replication, and other data protection technologies.

This was first published in April 2012

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