Tag Archives: BackupReview

Holistic Approach to Cloud Backups

Guest post by Mamush Heayie

The backup and storage landscape has changed. Network traffic patterns have been transformed. There are no predictable, point-to-point transaction activities any more. Transactions are bandwidth intense, many-to-many and demanding. Databases must be available 24 x 7 x 365, and servers cannot shut down their services day or night. Data formats have also changed. There are new data types—video files, audio files, unstructured data files and big data—that must be backed-up, stored securely, replicated, delivered or archived. There is a proliferation of server applications and user applications. Organizations striving to stabilize their networks and backup processes must remain conscious of this changing computing environment. However, they need not over provision their network infrastructure or discard existing infrastructure in favor of standardized equipment. They can turn to Cloud backup services and abstract their concerns around network traffic to their backup service vendor.

Cloud backup services take a holistic approach to network and IT services management. They promise to deliver a reliable, secure and cost efficient network / business experience to their customers over the Internet and work towards delivering on their promise in multiple ways. Data center consolidation, disaster recovery and business continuity receive focus.

Organization defined Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) are metrics that are considered significant. Data is backed up to local servers, local appliances, local drives, primary servers, remote servers, mirror servers, replication servers, etc. redundantly from a single unified administrative interface. The multiplicity of backups is orchestrated to ensure high availability of information to the enterprise. Plug-ins built into the Cloud backup software is application-aware and light weight to ease the management of multi-platform, multi-operating system based servers and their backup. Virtualization techniques are used to help reduce the number of servers that need to be managed. Administration systems are centralized to simplify the management of IT assets.

Layered security is enforced with “difficult to break” Cryptographic algorithms that may be third party tested and certified. The encryption key is most often user defined and user-managed to provide an additional layer of security. The data at rest remains encrypted for preventing hijack of mission-critical enterprise information. Access to information can be restricted by administrators from the central user management interface and only users with assigned rights and permissions can gain access to enterprise information. Authorized users can recover data from anywhere, anytime to any kind of hardware (Bare metal recovery).

About the Author: Mamush Heayie is Managing Editor at www.BackupReview.info – a leading informational website for the Cloud backup and data storage industry.


Shopping for Cloud Backup Services

Guest post by Mamush Heayie

Making the Cloud backup decision is the easy first part of a long drawn out process. The difficult parts follow. What kind of Cloud backup should be selected for the organization? What kind of features does one look for? How does one make sure that the support promised by the Cloud backup vendor will be delivered? These are a few of many questions that must be asked and answered before one can properly set out to shop for Cloud backup! Add to this the problems one will face while communicating their needs and buying the right service. Often, the customer and the vendor take things for granted; and this could result in huge communication gaps that cannot be bridged later.

Shopping for the right Cloud backup service is not easy. The shopping process should not be rushed; rather, it must be deliberate, with lots of due diligence. The Cloud industry is still being shaped, and developed. Some features have matured and some are still being worked on. “Standards” are emerging, but emerging slowly. As a result, similar services being offered by different cloud backup vendors are really very dissimilar. This can be very confusing at times.  The process of making the right choice can get very complicated.

So how do you pick the right Cloud backup service provider? One way is to contact a few people from the Cloud backup industry and ask for their opinions. This could be done by first short-listing your final three service providers.

Furthermore, data switching between one Cloud service provider and another is a need that is just being addressed. Control of data privacy, compliance with the extant laws, correction and deletion of data and potential for security breaches are some of the areas of concern to the Cloud backup shopper.

Established Cloud backup service providers have displayed a surprising resilience and maturity in almost all the areas of concern. They seem to have thought through end-user problems and come up with solutions that have stood the test of time. They have standardized offerings and service level agreements (SLAs) that are executed and implemented with dedication and understanding. They shape their software and their deployment policies keeping in view the customers and their preferences. They assume leadership and ensure that their channel partners deliver quality service at minimum cost. They keep their fingers on the pulse of the market and work with their partners to bring to the table state of the art Cloud backup and recovery solutions.

Cloud backup and recovery solution shoppers would do well to thoroughly research the service providers they shortlist and do a multi-dimensional evaluation of their capabilities. They should visit discussion forums, review sites, and other social media sites to ensure that the Cloud backup service provider they have shortlisted has the right reputation among the customers and the users.

The right selection of a Cloud backup service from the start will have a positive impact on the organization.

About the Author: Mamush Heayie is Managing Editor at www.BackupReview.info – a leading informational website for the cloud backup and data storage industry.

Cloud Backup Projects: Guidelines

Guest post by Mamush Heayie

A cloud backup project is not just a matter of deciding to migrate data to the cloud. It involves planning, organizing and monitoring.

Cloud backup projects demand the convening of cross functional teams. It is a proven instrument for gaining the confidence of business managers who otherwise regard IT with suspicion and wariness. They consider it a roadblock. Cross functional teams that include business managers will smooth the process of integrating IT decision making with business decision making and create the environment for rapid and effective execution of cloud backup and recovery projects. The cross functional team must include key stakeholders form every kind of business group within the organization—such a sales, marketing, engineering, security, IT development and senior leaders.

The cloud backup project must be headed by a Cloud expert. This is because businesses lack expertise in cloud backup and recovery systems and may not even be aware of the variety of cloud backup configurations that are available in the market and how these configurations can be used to gain a business advantage for the organization. Moreover, the resources available with the organization are often stretched so thin that the focus on integration and consolidation in the cloud receives very little attention. The outside expert can remain fully focused on the task on hand and also draw upon the experience and wisdom of the members of the cross functional team. They can assist the organization with the evaluation of IT risks, develop cloud backup strategies, create the project execution plan, and manage the migration process.

Since cloud backup is a relatively new discipline, it is important to select the right service provider or partner. The provider’s experience in the field will smooth the organization’s implementation of the cloud backup system. If the cloud backup service provider has the necessary capability of assessing risk, and enforcing security in the cloud, the organization will have a double advantage.

Organizations venturing into cloud projects should evaluate the support systems that are provided by the cloud backup service. The task of maintaining and delivering data from the cloud backup will have to be offloaded to the cloud backup service provider. Therefore, in the long run, a strong support system will facilitate data management and distribution and will ensure that cloud delivered data remains highly available to the organization for remote access, disaster recovery and business continuity.

It follows that the journey to the cloud must be well planned and executed. All stakeholders must be involved in the process in one way or another in the planning, development and execution of the project.

About the Author: Mamush Heayie is Managing Editor at www.BackupReview.info – a leading informational website for the cloud backup and data storage industry.


No One Wants Their Data Locked Up

Guest post by Mamush Heayie

No one wants their data locked up. Portable data represents a freedom of choice and operational efficiency. It compels attention and is one of the major drivers of the cloud.

Cloud computing has revolutionized data management. The technology provides scalable cloud storage repositories and instant data recovery anywhere, anytime and on to any kind of device. The emergence of technologies that facilitate data portability has enhanced the value of the cloud and made it one of the most powerful means of integrating the scattered parts of the enterprise and linking up mobile workers operating in remote parts of the market.

When data cannot be ported across vendor servers, the customer faces a situation known as Vendor lock-in. The situation is automatic when proprietary technologies dominate the product or service delivery or inefficient processes/constraints prevent data portability. It is therefore, not surprising that one of the reasons (albeit unfounded) for not migrating to the cloud is “possibility of vendor lock-in”.

It is now more than three years since data portability hit the news with a presentation of the technology at Gartner summit in 2009. The technology has gained momentum and definition and has emerged as an inevitable dimension of cloud backup and recovery. Cloud backup software developers ensure that data portability can be leveraged in public, private or hybrid clouds and cloud backed-up data is never orphaned by provisioning for data application mobility and abstraction of data from the hardware layer. This gives organizations tremendous flexibility and allows the free flow of data between cloud backup service providers. Users can now plan investments with an assurance that they have the freedom of choice and the facility to switch data between cloud backup vendors.

However, it should be remembered that not all cloud backup vendors offer the facility. It is best to read the fine print and confirm that you are not getting your enterprise into a vendor lock-in situation. It may also be a good idea to interact with the potential vendors directly and satisfy yourself about the portability of the information you store in the chosen cloud backup repository. Check out the migration tools that are being offered and choose cloud backup providers who are committed to following and implementing standards such as the Cloud Data Management Interface (CDMI) that has been published by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).

About the Author: Mamush Heayie is Managing Editor at www.BackupReview.info – a leading informational website for the cloud backup and data storage industry.

The Disk vs. Tape Ping Pong

This article is a guest post by Mamush Heayie

Disk Backup vs. Tape Backup – which one is better?

There are many loud declamations out there asserting the superiority of the disk over the tape and declaring that the tape is outdated technology that has no use in the modern data center. The doomsayers are well matched as tape backup die-hards down cry the disk and defend the tape. The ping pong can be confusing and even trying. So what is the truth?

Cloud backup and recovery service providers argue that disk storage changes the perspective on data storage. A number of tools are being used to manage backup data in the cloud. Unlike tape, disk based data is easily accessible at all times of the day or the night and data management is simpler. The data can be fetched, moved, archived or discarded with or without human intervention by merely tweaking parameters in the software settings. Data can be accessed from anywhere, any time and from any device. In short, data can be truly “managed” for optimal use of available space and improved business productivity.

So, cloud backups are hailed as the smarter way to go. Service providers point out that data backed up into tapes are often unrecoverable as proprietary technologies are used in the read write operation and recovery demands the use of the same technology. Moreover, data copied on tapes is never really “managed”. The data remains on the tape until it is overwritten and the tape itself is discarded when it is worn out. Taking a proactive approach to managing data on tapes requires investment of time and resources—which enterprises can ill afford.

But, it must be remembered that the cloud is set out to conquer the market as an IT resources consumption model. So, cloud backup and recovery service providers must be willing to support the tape. When the cloud is stripped down into its component parts, it stands revealed as an amalgamation of various types of IT resources available with the organization. So, do you exclude the tape from the set of reusable IT resources? Tape should be just as relevant as other IT components!

While cloud backup service providers may prefer to wean their customers from using tapes, some have married it to their software. They have come to realize that tape cannot be ignored. Tapes might have some advantages, including offsite portability in case of disasters –albeit slowly, less vulnerability to virus attacks, and suitability for long term archiving. Cloud customers, who have previously stored data in tapes, have to be supported. Customers, who want to archive their information to tapes or create their local copies of data in tape, must be supported. There is a subtle and persistent demand for tape-in-the-cloud and the cloud backup and recovery (BURR) has come to recognize it.

About the Author: Mamush Heayie is Managing Editor at www.BackupReview.info – a leading informational website for the cloud backup and data storage industry.

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