More and more, IT organizations are evaluating whether online backup (or backup to the cloud) makes sense for their organization. Clearly, keeping a copy of your important information offsite for disaster recovery purposes make sense, considering it only takes one event like fire, flood, or even theft to cause significant data loss which would seriously affect your business operations. And then there are other more destructive natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes to contend with, depending on where your business resides.
Making copies of backups to tape used to be the answer, but physically transporting them offsite is risky, time consuming and costly.
However, there are also challenges in using an online backup solution that only offers direct-to-cloud backup. Carefully consider the following when evaluating online-only backup:
- Backup Windows – With the exponential growth in data, most IT administrators already have a tough time meeting their backup window goals. When you add in trying to perform backup to a remote site over the WAN, your backups could take far longer. Before committing to an online backup solution, test to see how long direct-to-cloud backup is going to take, especially for a large volume or database. Is this type of solution even feasible for your needs? A hybrid solution that performs onsite backup and automated file copy to the cloud may be a better solution.
- Data Recovery – Recovering your data from the cloud via a cloud backup solution is most likely going to take far longer than recovering from local disk or even tape, especially for a large volume or database. Almost all online backup vendors have recognized this challenge and now have to offer a fee-based physical media recovery service where they copy the data you want to a DVD or USB drive and actually overnight it to your location. Not only can this take up to 24 hours, it’s a costly proposition. So just like you should test backup, it’s even more important that you test recovery of a large volume of data. A hybrid solution where backups are stored both onsite and in the cloud will give you an advantage for speeding recovery.
- System Recovery – When we talk about online backup, we typically refer to protecting the data or information and not necessarily the whole system that includes the operating system, system state, registries and applications. Many online backup solutions don’t offer any system protection and assume you have your own solution in place today. A solution that offers both backup and system recovery will simplify IT management and help reduce costs.
- Security – If you are planning to use an online backup solution and store your business information and data at someone else’s remote location, you need to research the physical and system security in place. Your solution should enable you to encrypt your data during transmission as well as in storage at the service provider’s datacenter.
- File Retention and Archiving – In addition to basic backup and restore, most IT organizations have internal or regulatory compliance requirements around long-term data retention. It’s important that your solution includes ways to archive data and set retention policies to address these needs.
Bottom line, direct-to-cloud, online-only backup solutions are no slam dunk. Ask questions and consider the issues before committing. You may find a hybrid data protection solution – one that keeps a copy of your backup locally and in the cloud – a better alternative.