The Role of WAN Accelerators in Cloud Backups

As some cloud backup companies fold and close, many more new ones are opening doors. The cloud backup market has become very much crowded; and many are trying their best to differentiate themselves from the crowd.  Some of the new entrants are offering sophisticated hybrid cloud backup services, which makes it very difficult to compare the different options. However, many buyers consider the speed of data transfer to the cloud as one of the most important features to consider.

Data transfer speed can be greatly improved by WAN acceleration.

WAN Acceleration is a technology that is used to improve the effectiveness of data flow across a Wide Area Network (WAN). On the other hand, WAN Accelerator is a software or appliance that improves bandwidth in order to make the user’s experience more effective on WAN. Many believe that the speed of data transfer is limited to the speed the Internet connection of a company. Although this is true, technologies and software of the backup vendors play a role in increasing cloud replication speed with the help of WAN acceleration. Therefore, how do WAN accelerators work?  How does the vendor improve throughput? What are the things to explore in order to select the best service provider?

Here are some of the questions that companies should ask to find the best solution:

1 – How Does the Vendor Recuperate from Disruptions of Network?

Due to packet drops and network hiccups, the transfer of information is not an easy task. Thus, it is necessary that selected vendor offers an updated technology that can replicate all data to the cloud. Matured cloud backup services, that are using traffic optimisation, deploy resilient-resumption technology allowing them to quickly recover and maintain operations even when the system experiences some kind of network disturbance or packet loss.

2 – Does the Vendor Throttle Bandwidth?

Administrators use traffic technology to specify the bandwidth that can be consumed by backup traffic at different hours of the day (such as, high bandwidth during non-business hours and low bandwidth in business hours). Best vendors will use dynamic maximum transfer unit (MTU) to optimise throughput by sizing the amount of sent on each request, depending on the network connection of the company.

3 – How Does the Vendor Deduplicate the Data?

Sending data across WAN is not an effective way to accelerate data transfer. In order to improve the transfer of data across the WAN, data scientists came up with dedulication process.  Duplication helps in reducing the bandwidth of WAN by more than 90%. Despite the fact, most of the vendors make use of source-side type of deduplication to make certain that the used appliance maintains single file version. However, not all cloud vendors dedupe the information over the WAN (to ensure that replicated information does not already exist in the cloud backup repository).

The best of the breed cloud backup vendors use block-level deduplication over the WAN. Such technology checks the cloud repository to enquire whether a specific block is present in cloud backup or not. In case it is available, then it is not copied to the cloud. Conversely, if the block does not exist, it will be copied and transferred to the cloud.

You will be a well informed cloud backup consumer if you ask the above questions on network optimisation and WAN acceleration.

Seven Things to Consider When Choosing a Cloud Backup Service Provider

The best approach to fully protect your data (and restoring it after a big disaster) is by simply replicating all data to a secured data centre to an off-site location.

Cloud backup is done automatically with the help of the Internet. As a matter of fact, it is very important for every company to protect their personal or official data by using a good cloud backup service by choosing an appropriate service provider.

Seven Important Features in a good cloud backup service

With thousands of cloud backup companies offering what seems to be the same services, companies looking for these services become overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.  From a glance, they all all look the same.  But, the fact is, they are all different.  Clients need to have a service that is more efficient, reliable and cost effective. They also prefer to choose the backup service provider having efficient mechanism for the data protection and recovery from the main data centre. Clients also do not want to pay exuberant amount of money; they want a fair price.

Never choose the cloud backup service provider if he doesn’t meet the given requirements:

  1. Data Seeding Options:Data seeding reduces initial backup time and enables the user to transfer data easily. If you have a large amount of data to backup, start the backup by sending the data in an encrypted external media.
  1. Overnight Data Shuttle:You should ask if the company will be able to provide you with overnight shipment of critical data in case of network outage. This service is preferred by big organisations.
  1. Security for Storage and Transfer: You need to ensure that your data is safe with the service provider. After all, it is your data. Don’t choose a company if it is unable to offer security.
  • There are several government agencies dictating how data storage companies handle, protect and transfer data. Is the company HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, Gram-Leach-Bliley and etc. compliant? Compliance to these regulations confirms the standing of the cloud backup company you are considering.
  • Ensure that all types of data transfers are fully encrypted with SSL protocols. This helps to minimise the chances of data hacking.
  • Check where the service provider stores the data. Ask what kind of procedure is in place to access the data centre. Does it have some kind of ID systems and video surveillance facilities?
  1. Geographically Dispersed Data Centres: Allows redundant copies of your data in more than one location in case of a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Ensure that the data centres are at least 3,000 Km away from each other.
  1. Data Recovery with Different Devices:The service needs to be device agnostic. Today, everyone has laptops and other gadgets such as tablets. It is necessary to choose a backup service that allows recovering the data from different devices other than the one used to backup the data.
  1. Technical Assistance:A backup service provider must offer technical support in order to solve any issues. You should demand this feature in order to get the support you need to protect your data and perform recovery when needed.Daily Reports: This is for the information and record purposes. It is necessary to see the activities related to your data. You can easily see when and where data was transferred.

Handling Data Explosion Intelligently

Small and medium sized enterprises are experiencing a rapid increase in unstructured and structured data. SMEs are interested to find effective ways for data backup, easy access and data recovery, without investing a considerable amount of time and money. To manage data storage successfully, companies should understand the value of their data and reduce the cost that is spent for compliance risk, data loss and ineffective backup system.

Data Awareness

Most of the businesses do not have an idea of their data and when it is required to be accessed. They assume that every and all types of data need to be retained, which is an expensive and time consuming process. Thus, SMEs must classify data for better protection. Moreover, value of data type should be established to understand the impact of data (loss) on the business.

Managing structured data held in databases, record systems, and spreadsheets is quite an easier task; however managing unstructured data (social media, voice, images and emails) can cause a lot of problems. It is estimated that 80% of organisations’ data is in fact unstructured data. Consequently, such unstructured data makes it difficult to search, utilise and manage – whether it relates to recovery tasks, search, access or compliance.

Small and medium sized companies need to create an IT policy in order to understand different data sources. This is based on classifying data through business unit, to create an insight into data location, type and nature. It will help in finding the relevant sources of data in centralised and consistent way. Better backup policies could be applied based on the acquired knowledge. For instance, a company does not need to make backup of all files if data is related to music files, photos and videos. Therefore, a new policy could be introduced to delete, exclude or move such data.

Data Management Policy

From operational and compliance perspectives, loss of data can cause serious damages. To avoid data loss, companies need to have a particular backup system that has the capability to copy all information on given network. Data management system must establish a checklist to verify whether the recently updated or transferred data is copied or not.

To make certain that restored data is accurate, companies can test the system on trial basis by restoring data from the backup sets. Besides, all the shares and drives need to be checked regularly.

SMEs should make sure that valuable backups are saved at a distant place, outside of the company’s building, using cloud backup solution. The procedure should be as easy as backing up on storage devices, which are transported to an offsite location or using automated cloud backup solution.

Store all data in the company network, making it easier for access. In case, data is saved in a local workstation, it cannot be accessed by others, as a result, the information could be lost if the computer crashes. To avoid the loss of information, ensure that protocol is being followed to save data in the network, using a system to allow read only access to users.

To apply cost-efficient storage solution, companies should transfer less frequently used and old data to lower cost network storage. Get rid of data that is not required or needed to be accessed. Besides, users should be trained to delete unrelated to company business, personal files, especially large media files should be removed from databases, mailboxes and emails.

By removing duplicate files and selecting current file versions, up to 30% of space could be saved. Apply the best technology and appropriate backup processes to fulfill storage requirements.

Communicating Data Breaches with Employees

Data breaches happened less frequently in the past. With the increased activity in ransom-ware, data breaches are now becoming a daily occurrence.  Major corporations like Sony, Domino’s and Home Depot have been hacked. It is believed that there will be more data breaches in the coming months and years. If, as an employer, you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a data breach, how are you going to communicate the breach to your employees?  What happens after the security breach?

Be Transparent

Employers should notify the breach to employees as soon as possible once they have all the facts about the breach.  Employees have the right to know about the breach incident directly from the employer, rather than from the rumours circulating. On the other hand, the companies are also required to make sure that workers will keep the shared information strictly confidential or at least until it is officially announced.

An Inside Job?

It is essential to ensure that employees are receiving the right information in a timely fashion. Tell them that concerned department has started investigations about the matter; without divulging too much details into the breach, so as not to alarm the culprit in case it is an inside-job.

An Outside Attack?

Share more detailed information (as they become available) about the breaches if your investigation confirms that the cause is not internal. Update them as frequently as possible.  This will ensure that the workers are not worried about their personal information. Personal information, like: address, social security numbers, birthday, salary amount, etc. could be recipes for an identity theft.

Personal Information

You need to think about Data Protection Act (DPA). In the UK, for instance, businesses must adhere to DPA. This act ensures that employers holding personal information on their workers must keep the information safe and secure. DPA is very helpful to avoid information breaches.

Businesses must report data breaches to the Information Commissioner in the UK. It also makes sense that employers inform and update their employees at the same time. If it is confirmed that employees’ personal information have been compromised, then the employer should offer support to its affected employees. Advice such as what the next steps should be and what to do if unauthorized credit card transaction is posted in their account. Detailed procedures should be described so that the victims can take immediate action whenever they face identity theft or unauthorized bank transaction.

It would be better to develop a database or provide a fully dedicated hotline so the staff can call and ask questions about the breach.

Official Press Release Statement

It is important to communicate with all employees, informing them that they are not authorized to speak to the press media about the incident at all times. Tell them that it is a standard process and everyone should obey this because the breach is related to company’s reputation and business.

Remember that data breaches are juicy stories. Reporters and bloggers love to write about them. Many true and false stories will be written. The key is to share the details with employees and release an official press release. You can win the trust of your employees by sharing timely information with them. This will give them more confidence and they will not share the details outside the company. The last thing you want is for the employees to learn about the breach from a third-party website or other traditional media.


Factors Affecting Backup Consolidation of Laptops, Servers and Endpoints

IT managers want to consolidate backups.  They try to bring this project to CIO’s attention at times by writing a reminder on the IT’s whiteboard every year, especially during budget approval. The purpose of this backup consolidation is simple: protection of the data while increasing the speed of data recovery and storage process and reducing costs. However, most of the efforts related to backup consolidation have not been successful, as data continually changes in the organisation. As a result, most of the small to medium sized enterprises have given up hope of utilizing CIO a single consolidated backup solution.

There are numerous problems in data consolidation process especially the lack of a single dominated solution. The data protection system fragments when users implement applications. Nowadays, Cloud is the only remaining hope for the SMEs. Cloud has brought us bespoke services, ensuring the data protection requirements. SMEs are beginning to appreciate the value of the cloud; it has now matured and has evolved into disaster recovery and long term archival in addition to basic backups and data protection. Let us discuss additional points on how cloud backup can help the SMEs to implement useful data protection strategies.

Elements of Change:

The very first thing in the process of consolidation is the historical information about previous fragmentation. Recent technologies have brought several changes in this area.

Following things have forced the IT departments to invent new solutions for data consolidation:

  • Rapid data growth;
  • Home/remote offices;
  • Cloud-based applications;
  • Demand for faster recovery;
  • Increased workforce mobility;
  • Desktop and server vitalisation.

Specialized Applications:

Most companies have got their specialized data recovery options, but they will need to have a single solution if they want to utilize data consolidation. For instance, it would not be a good decision to recover thousands of emails when a few emails are lost.  This is why the email database backup and recovery system must know how to recover the desired emails in less time. Modern and specialized backup applications are more useful to generate such results.

The Mobile Workforce:

Today, the Internet has enabled the widespread adoption of “work from home”.  A vast number of people are telecommuting, and at times are referred as mobile workforce. Such initiatives save commuting time, reduce Carbon footprint, encourages green thinking, and saves money, and office real estate. Mobile workforce can access data in a network from office or any place with the help of an Internet connection. All this has completely changed the network reach assumed by traditional backup service providers.

Mobile workers usually use laptops, which are not usually protected. If protected at all, it would be done using separate backup solutions. With the proliferation of Smartphones and tablets, a typical mobile worker now has at least three devices — each of which creates data — which are prone to theft and loss. Mobile data has become important and it always needs to be protected. This can be done with the help of specialized data backup option, such as Asigra’s agent less solution.

Consolidation Requirements:

To make backup consolidation successful, it is required to match with modern IT architecture. Following steps will be required for this purpose:

  • Consolidation should be extensible for innovative dedicated applications. This will help the IT departments to make changes in future in order to create compatibility.
  • The IT applications should work in all types of environments (high or low bandwidth connectivity). This will enable the system to continue backup process from any source.
  • It should be efficient to utilize Internet in order to create backups. This will be good if devices or systems are being used outside the area of local network or administrator.
  • It should recover data quickly, allowing a variety of recovery point and recovery time objectives, with minimal data movement, block data transfer, across LAN and WAN.

Will the Cloud Consolidate Backup Easily?

It leads therefore that the cloud will be able to consolidate backup without any problem. As a matter of fact, cloud has a natural backup system enabling it to work worldwide with various applications. It has excellent tendency to work with low or high bandwidth connection, different computing gadgets, Smartphones and networks.

Importance of Cloud Application Programming Interface (API)

As technology is becoming increasingly dependent on the cloud, Application Programming Interface (API) in cloud computing has come into focus. APIs can be understood as the technical facilitator of the cloud. APIs enable users to write applications on the cloud by interpreting the user commands and converting it into the necessary semantics that can be understood by the back-end systems. An API describes a certain operation in the system while providing syntax to achieve the same. It also gives information to the user about the kinds of inputs and outputs the system generates when a certain API is used. They can either be in a specific programming language or exist in a standard language like WSDL. It includes a set of defined protocols, which interact with the underlying system. It can be said, an ineffective API for a cloud would be equivalent to having a desktop computer without a keyboard or a mouse!

APIs can offer several features, which in turn increases the flexibility of the cloud. It allows the user to scale up or down the computational power as required and provides the user a rich set of features to work with. It plays a vital role in maintaining the cloud platform security and helps with rapid cloud access. The API takes care of the integration of a system as well as the portability and interpretability of an application on the cloud. Cloud service providers work very carefully to develop a robust APIs to provide the user with an exceptional cloud computing experience.

An example of a cloud API is Representational State Transfer (REST). It follows a SOA (Service oriented architecture) model, which allows for web service development using Object Oriented programming language. Most REST APIs communicate to the system through a web browser or web servers. Since cloud computing is distributive in nature, REST APIs use the web as the ideal solution for the implementation of API on the cloud. These APIs are typically catered towards a certain kind of service model like PaaS or SaaS, which focus on providing software solutions to the customers. Online Maps are a classic example of REST based SaaS API. For users trying to create applications for taxi services or moving services, these APIs can help build the necessary platform with their varied tools! It can help with the dispatch of drivers or movers real-time upon customer request while taking into account the proximity of the service provider.

APIs form an integral part of the cloud ecosystem. Since it plays a critical role in deciding the type of service model a business will require, choosing the right API, is crucial for successful application development!

As a cloud computing, cloud backup, and disaster recovery company, Backup Technology is happy to assist you with your cloud computing needs, including APIs. Contact us here:


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