Considering Data Recovery in the Cloud? (Hint: Not All Data Is Created Equal)
Contemplating data recovery in the cloud? Here's a hint: Don't treat all your data the same. This article shows why there are three T's in successful cloud backup and recovery.
IT crises are no fun — least of all for the team charged with keeping things moving. But let's face it: Systems go down. Hardware fails. Updates go awry and things get corrupted. Users accidentally overwrite or delete important files. They may even accidentally encrypt all their data via ransomware.
Organizations have many reasons for turning to data recovery and its newest popular variant, cloud-based data recovery. But what does it take to be successful with cloud backup and recovery? It boils down to two things: How well you back up the data you'll need to recover and how well your cloud backup service handles your data.
Think there's no T in "backup" or "recovery"? Actually, there are three: Type, tier and test. Read on to ensure that you cross as many T's as possible in your organization's own efforts toward successful cloud-based recovery.
What type of data do you need to protect? Is it mostly flat files, whole database applications or whole servers? Or even laptops and desktops? The answer to these questions should derive from the data most likely to need to be recovered from the cloud. Here are some other good questions to ask about types of data: How quickly will you need to recover it? Will you need protection for currently open files as well as saved files? Will you need to use the cloud for bare metal restore, even to different hardware from the original system or server? (If going to different hardware, beware potential complications like different drivers or older microcode, said Marc Staimer of Dragon Slayer Consulting in TechTarget.)
Will you need to include operating system files, configuration files or application files? What about virtual server backups, such as from Hyper-V or VMware virtual machine instances? Will you need application-specific backups (such as for Oracle or SQL Server)? Beyond backup, do you need some form of replication, replicated full-system "snapshots" or integration with your organization's on-premise backup system or backup appliance? If so, how will your cloud provider handle these types of needs?
Tiered data management and tiered data protection are valuable strategies that take your organization past basic recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) requirements for the recovery of its more mission-critical applications. This ebook describes how many organizations are effectively combining different tiers of storage (cloud, disk and tape) to address data protection, disaster recovery and archiving.
Amidst the rush to cloud backup, even tape remains an economical tier. Tape-out from the cloud can provide more rapid recovery of large data sets. It can be used for initial cloud seeding of backup data to the cloud provider or as the "last line of defense" from potential data corruption that spreads to cloud backups. And of course, tape works well for long-term storage or for archiving seldom-used digital assets.
The third T refers to testing your provider's capabilities. It also refers to conducting periodic tests and audits of your organization's own data recovery in the cloud. In terms of testing your own recovery, many organizations often miss critical files that have been changed or moved since the last backup.
When it comes to fielding potential cloud backup providers, ask them to demonstrate how backup and recovery would work for applicable scenarios in the "Type" section above. Ask to see the vendor's step-by-step restore instructions. Also ask what level of support the provider can give customers with questions or issues after a downtime event. What if the event is regional and impacts many of the service provider's clients at the same time? How do you know the provider will be up to the challenge of responding to multiple urgent customer needs at the same time? Here, detailed service level agreements and customer references can help.
Disasters are inevitable. But successful recovery is possible if you're careful about how you back up your data and take the time to vet a reliable provider.