Future-Focused Data Protection: To The Cloud And Beyond

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Explore today’s options for moving your current data protection, disaster recovery and archiving initiatives to the cloud.

Disk, tape and cloud are becoming the new norm for enterprise data protection. In this eBook, we describe both standard and emerging uses of disk, tape or cloud, specifically in regards to backup, disaster recovery and archiving. We also offer some final advice about ways to incorporate each type of storage media into your own data protection and archive strategy.

Where Does Backup Fit Among Disk vs. Cloud Options?

Enterprise IT teams continue to face the ageold struggle of how to best protect their company’s data and applications while managing shrinking budgets and thin resources. Data protection technologies have since evolved to address these issues, first with faster tape backups and then with various disk or cloud options. Disk backup offers more automated backups and shorter restore times over tape, while cloud backup promises easier management with cost effective, flexible operating expense (OpEx) payment models. With the various benefits to each method, organizations are faced with deciding between disk and the cloud to manage their backups.

Disk vs. Cloud: When Is Cloud Backup the Right Fit?

It should come as no surprise that organizations of various sizes have different needs for data protection. For example, small- to midsize businesses may do fine utilizing one of the many popular cloud backup services available for their file systems or virtual servers.

When it comes to enterprise organizations, however, the prospect of cloud backup may seem a lot more daunting. Beyond their own file shares, many large companies have growing interconnected database systems with data sets that comprise hundreds of terabytes. Backing up or restoring such data sets on a nightly basis with a cloud provider could incur significant bandwidth costs. Then, there is the backup time involved. Beyond the restoration of occasional files, there is also the issue of how long it might take to restore larger data sets, if needed. Finally, large enterprises have a diverse set of backup applications and legacy systems.

Cloud backup services have developed methods to address these potential drawbacks. Where it makes sense, these tactics may include “seeding” initial backup data with a temporary onsite appliance; the use of wide-area network optimization to boost data transmissions; deduplication to minimize the amount of data transmitted or stored; and the transmission of only changed data since the most recent backup. Depending on the cloud service provider’s service-level agreement, larger cloud restoration needs may even include the provider shipping hardware or tapes containing the customer’s full backup data sets.


The average cloud backup provider only plans to store a company’s backup data for one to three years.

Such cloud backup processes have since allowed many mid-range companies to replace their local backups to disk or tape with cloud backup. However, some enterprise organizations are holding out when it comes to cloud backup — transitioning to a cloud backup service poses a “rip and replace” risk and costs for diverse production environments.

Enterprise Backup Favors a Blend of Disk With Cloud

Faced with a large volume of data to protect, many enterprise organizations are opting against the cloud for backup. Now seeing tape as more suited to a low-cost, long-term retention and archiving solution, enterprises have begun to replace tape as their primary backup medium. They choose, instead, to use local disk backup technologies for fast, local restores. Then, to protect their data offsite, they replicate the backup data to the company’s own secondary remote data center, to a colocation facility, or even to an outside cloud provider.


Disk has finally surpassed tape as organizations’ primary backup target, with 54 percent of companies using disk backup methods in 2014.

Faced with a large volume of data to protect, many enterprise organizations are opting against the cloud for backup.

Leading backup software vendors have started to integrate external cloud-capable functionality within their solutions. This is also true for backup hardware such as the makers of purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs). PBBAs, which often sit at the edge of a corporate network, are used to centralize backup data from multiple applications and devices while reducing the overall data stored via deduplication. Replicating these appliances allows for a “plug and play” approach which eliminates any “rip and replace” risks that enterprises are concerned about.

Such enterprise storage and backup hardware vendors have started to let cloud providers host secondary physical or virtual versions of vendor hardware at the provider’s site. Often used for offsite protection for recovery copies or long-term retention needs, this practice speeds up replication to the cloud, especially when sending deduplicated data from the customer’s hardware to the cloud provider’s hardware. Depending on the service model adopted by the provider, such cloud data replication functionality may even be offered in a pay-as-you-go, OpEx cost model.

Disk vs. Cloud for Backup? Why Not Both?

Data backup and recovery are still big customer pain points, but new developments in these areas will continue to come from software vendors, hardware vendors and cloud providers. Organizations should keep an eye out for partnerships and joint solutions that combine the best of disk and cloud with offsite data protection, while still offering scalable, pay-asyou- go cloud payment structures. Plus a tape out option to protect a “gold copy” of that data offsite for extended retention or security from cyber threats are key features to consider.

Exploring Disk, Tape and Cloud in Disaster Recovery

Backup and recovery are often seen as two sides of the same coin. After all, the purpose of a data backup is the recovery of information. Yet when enterprises try to decide among disk, tape and cloud in disaster recovery, they usually need more than a simple definition of “recovery.” Disaster recovery includes the processes, habits, plans and best practices that give an organization the best chance of salvaging critical IT systems and data after a disaster.

Choosing the right vehicle — disk, tape and/or cloud backup — comes from careful assessment and identification of the company’s unique, tiered disaster recovery requirements. While each organization’s disaster recovery needs are different, the following is a sampling of popular disaster recovery choices for enterprise companies:

Disaster recovery includes the processes, habits, plans and best practices that give an organization the best chance of salvaging critical IT systems and data after a disaster.

Disaster Recovery Words to Live By: Redundant and Offsite

One disaster recovery truism is that there should always be copies of backup data stored and protected at a secure offsite location. Ideally, this location should be far away from the primary data center, even in a different region, if possible.


Did you know it is common for enterprises to spend 25% of their IT budgets on disaster recovery?

This advice syncs with the definition of disaster recovery set by the Storage Networking Industry Association, which states that disaster recovery should be “a comprehensive process of setting up a redundant site (equipment and work space) with recovery of operational data.” Getting one or more redundant copies of data offsite is a disaster recovery gold standard. However, the ratio of disk, tape and cloud used to achieve this standard is left to the discretion of the organization.

Tape: The Affordable Workhorse

As a good practice, many enterprise companies have achieved their offsite redundancy goals by routinely backing up their data to tape, and then sending the tapes to a secure third-party for offsite tape vaulting. For many reasons, affordable cost included, many organizations still use this practice today.


According to a 2015 ESG report, 88% of companies say the cloud is either important, very important or critical to a data protection appliance strategy.

However, delays can occur when retrieving and restoring offsite backup tapes. An organization’s disaster recovery assessment might find that mission-critical applications need a shorter recovery time objective than what tape allows. This is where other disk and cloud options become useful.

Increasing Popularity of Replication

In the past 10 years, various data replication methods have become popular choices as a natural evolution of enterprise-wide data protection strategies. In the past, replication was a costly proposition that required investing in a second data center before ensuring adequate offsite disaster recovery and replication. When it comes to disaster recovery options today however, organizations have more affordable options to ensure the secure and rapid replication, transport and digital storage of their data from Point A — typically a primary data center — to Point B, an secondary offsite data center provided by an external cloud or colocation service.

There are many replication nuances and methods to choose from, including cloud providers that offer disaster recovery as a service. Many backup software and hardware vendor solutions at customer sites also offer extensible replication functionality to the cloud.

Replication From DPA to the Cloud

According to a 2015 report from ESG, 67 percent of backup jobs over the next two years will be performed by some type of backup appliance or data protection appliance (DPA). DPAs, also called purpose-built backup appliances (PBBA), can improve backup times while reducing storage space required via deduplication. Recognizing the need for more affordable offsite disaster recovery, leading DPAs now offer streamlined replication of previously deduplicated data to a secondary appliance hosted at one or more external cloud providers. New cloud pricing models are also available to allow offsite disaster recovery with DPA replication, based on some type of payper- consumption rate.

Meeting offsite disaster recovery requirements no longer requires investment in a separate, costly disaster recovery site. Technology innovation and new choices in disk, tape and cloud backup make it easier than ever to afford viable offsite data protection and disaster recovery.

Options Abound for Disk, Tape and Cloud in Archiving The Difference Between

The need to improve data backup, recovery and archiving operations routinely tops the to-do lists of enterprise IT professionals, since growing data volumes are straining the IT infrastructures tasked with data protection and recovery. There is also the burden of retaining or archiving data to meet strict governance, compliance or eDiscovery requirements, while managing flat to declining budgets. Many organizations have deployed a mix of disk, tape and cloud solutions to meet their storage needs. However, the question becomes how to ensure long-term retention in a cost effective way. Luckily, new options are increasingly focused on integrating the best of all worlds with tiered storage using disk, tape and cloud in archiving.

“ Backup is really used to restore data in the event of a server crash. Archiving is intended to restore information in support of corporate goals.”

— Michael Osterman, President, Osterman Research

The Difference Between Backup and Archive

Backup vendors and industry pundits explain the difference between backup and archive in various ways. Knowing the difference can help companies evaluate various options for disk, tape and cloud in their archiving strategy.

In an Enterprise Strategy Group white paper on archival software and platforms, senior analyst Jason Buffington defined digital archiving as “the long-term retention and management of electronic information that has been purposefully retained to satisfy records management, data management, regulatory compliance or litigation support requirements.” He further distinguished backup data from archives, noting that “backup data is typically a temporary copy of a data set that is ultimately overwritten.”

The discussion of backup versus archiving is not new. As early as 2006, Computerworld asked experts to differentiate between backup and archive. Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, said, “Backup is really used to restore data in the event of a server crash. Archiving is intended to restore information in support of corporate goals.”

Backup expert and author W. Curtis Preston noted that the distinction was one of retrieving data, as an archive would do, versus recovering data, as backup or recovery would.

Sorting Archives From Backup via Storage Tiering

Without a good policy to separate true archive data from the backup stream, two problems can arise. First, backup copies become used as a costly, ineffective archive. Second, long-term retention volumes keep growing exponentially, thereby needing more expensive storage, along with the equipment and resources to manage it.

To avoid these issues, companies have started to implement storage tiering solutions with built-in policy automation. Such solutions help move archive data outside of the backup data stream. They send it, instead, to another storage tier with low-access, low-cost characteristics more appropriate for long-term retention. For regulatory or business retrieval requests, tape and cloud are increasingly seen as the ideal, low-cost, secure, off-site retention tier for a company’s “gold copy” archives. For faster operational restores from backup data, however, on-site, highly available disk is often the chosen tier.

Tape and Cloud as a Powerful Offsite Storage Tier

Increasingly, enterprise companies have started to favor local disk-based backup that is streamlined with data protection appliances (DPAs) using inline deduplication. Missioncritical backup data is then replicated for offsite disaster recovery to a cloud or colocation provider.

Using preset options for policy-based data movement, DPAs offer the management and storage of both backup and archive data sets on the local appliance, where each type of data can be managed under different retention rules. Appliance integration occurs between both leading backup application and leading archival applications. Special compliance, governance and long-term retention features ensure data integrity for data that is stored on the local appliance or replicated to a remote appliance in the cloud.

Many organizations see the economic benefits of tape for long-term retention and archiving, but don’t want the headache of daily tape management.

Given the emergence of more affordable OpEx-based, pay-per-consumption cloud services, many enterprises have started to look to secure cloud providers that host the same secondary data protection appliances. Having a secondary appliance in the cloud is an option for faster, more affordable WAN replication of already deduplicated, local data sets. Once archival data is stored securely offsite in a secondary appliance, some appliances can even offer a “tape-out” functionality that allows tape to be used as another storage tier for archival or long-term retention.

Many organizations see the economic benefits of tape for long-term retention and archiving, but don’t want the headache of daily tape management. Here, tape and cloud providers are emerging with options to fit an organization’s multiple needs for backup and archiving. Look for providers who let you “have your cake and eat it, too,” by combining the automation of DPAs and offsite replication with managed tape-out and data restoration services.

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