There is more to backing up in the cloud than just selecting a destination.

Backing up critical data to the cloud has become commonplace across the majority of businesses. However, there is a lot more to effective backup than just selecting the cloud as a destination for data. Many businesses fail to understand the full implications of storing backup or archival data in the cloud. Questions often go unasked, such as how long will the backup take, how quickly can I get to my data, are the backups consistent and reliable, what is the cost of backing up data, is the data secure, and so on. It is those unasked questions that can wreak havoc when data is needed in a hurry.

The Question of Cloud Backup Architecture

Choosing the most appropriate backup methodology comes down to understanding the architecture behind the backup process. In other words, those looking to effectively backup systems must have a clear understanding of how the data is backed up and where the data resides after backup. Today, the two most prevalent cloud backup architectures are hybrid cloud backup and pure cloud backup, each of which has pros and cons:

Pure Cloud Backup

As the name implies, a Pure Cloud Backup means that all data is stored in the cloud and all management and execution takes place in the cloud. Using a pure cloud backup solution requires that agents be installed on the systems to be protected, and all backup data is stored directly on the service provider’s cloud. All administration and management is usually done via a portal provided by the service provider and no backup data is stored on site.

There are several benefits to a pure cloud backup approach, including easy implementation, easy to scale and well suited to businesses that don’t possess in-house IT department skills. The costs of pure cloud backup services can increase or decrease based upon usage, which gives businesses the ability to accurately control backup costs and project future costs.

The biggest draw backup of a pure cloud backup methodology is one of bandwidth. In other words, backups consume bandwidth and are dependent upon fast connections and big pipes to be effective. That can pose a problem for organizations with large data sets and limited bandwidth. That bandwidth limitation also impacts the restoration of data, where the restoration of large files could take hours, or even days.

Hybrid Cloud Backup:

Businesses that need quick access to backup data and have smaller backup windows are better served by a Hybrid Cloud Backup approach, where a backup appliance is placed on site and the data is replicated to the cloud. Hybrid cloud backup normally deploys an on-site NAS appliance, which acts as a local backup target. The appliance then performs background synchronisations of backup data sets to an external cloud.

Restoration of data from a recent backup proves to be much quicker, since the data is stored on-site on the appliance and is quickly accessed. Alternately, restoration of archival data can be retrieved from the cloud and placed on the appliance for better control and restoration chores.

The upsides of a Hybrid Cloud Backup Infrastructure comes down to speed and granular control. Speed for both backups and restorations is provided by the on-site nature of the backup process and better control is established by the availability of a full backup software suite that can be run locally. 

The downside of Hybrid CLoud Backup comes in the form of costs, where businesses either have to buy or lease the onsite appliance, which adds cost, and may also have to have trained administrators on-site to manage backup procedures.

Taking the Correct Approach

For most businesses, it all comes down to choosing the approach that offers the best value and still meets operational needs. For businesses that create a lot of data and can not afford any extended downtime, a hybrid approach makes the most sense. For businesses that mostly already use cloud services and are not as sensitive to down time, a pure cloud backup may suffice.