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Lots of choices for cloud backup

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Use the cloud as backup media

Traditional on-premises backup vendors haven’t ignored their customers’ interest in cloud-based backup, nor do they underestimate the need to get your data out of the building. Many of them have long offered replication from a backup server to a secondary backup server at a different location. That works very well, as long as you have two locations with IT support at both.

But some backup vendors use the cloud simply as another form of media. That means that after deploying your typical backup infrastructure, you can restore from disk-based media, tape media or from the cloud. In some cases, that third tier is maintained at the vendor’s data center(s); in others, the application uses a public storage cloud infrastructure, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

For many, this is an attractive alternative. If your current backup app already supports cloud-based storage as a media layer, then all your agents stay as they are. Your existing backup server(s) remain in place to perform fast recoveries from local storage and you now have an additional copy of your data out of the building. (Read our feature on “Integrated cloud backup.”)

When your data’s already in the cloud

Both BaaS and hybrid cloud approaches are based on the assumption that your production data is on your premises (or with your mobile employees). But if your production data is already someplace else, perhaps within a cloud

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of its own, then your backup model radically changes or perhaps even disappears.

  • If you’re using online file sharing (OLFS) where your primary data copy is already cloud based, your data likely already resides in multiple data centers hosted on whatever cloud you’re using. You’re protected from component-level failures and if the service provider offers the ability to recover previous versions, you may not need any additional backup for that data. It’s inevitable OLFS and BaaS will overlap; for example, Mozy recently announced OLFS for its BaaS subscribers.
  • If your data truly coexists in two locations, such as the iSCSI-extending technology offered by Riverbed with its Granite product, you already have data at both a branch and a data center using storage that enables point-in-time recoveries.
  • If your data is based in the cloud but lives locally, such as with gateway appliances like those from Nasuni, StorSimple and other vendors, where local site filers are synchronized using Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) or other cloud storage services, each site has native resiliency with disaster recovery as easy as spinning up a clean virtual machine and remounting the cloud-based LUN. You could also use an on-premises backup solution of your on-premises filer for additional copies.

However you decide to leverage cloud backup services, the goal is still the same: Get that data out of the building.

BIO: Jason Buffington is a senior analyst for data protection at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG). He has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry. 

This was first published in April 2012

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