Why Tape Rules: Using Tape Backup in the Cloud

You’ve migrated your critical information to a cloud provider. That’s great—but is that data fully protected? Here’s why your cloud provider needs to provide a tape backup option.

FAST FACT: Of organizations using cloud backups, 68% have experienced a recovery failure, according to a 2013 Symantec survey of IT executives worldwide.

Managing data in the cloud is a compelling metaphor: This invisible, data-sopping sponge in the sky lets you transfer data anywhere in the world, instantly, while providing on-demand recovery.

In truth, it’s not quite as simple or friction-free. Without proper planning and safeguards, putting critical enterprise data in the cloud can lead to a business interruption or even data loss—and all of the downtime costs and regulatory penalties associated with it.

For full assurance that your cloud data is safe, evaluate your provider’s data-backup infrastructure. Does it include backup tape? Here’s why tape storage is critical for enterprise data protection in the cloud.

Reason #1: Tape has the offline advantage.

Tape storage is safe and secure. You’re always connected to your cloud-dwelling information, since it’s always plugged into a network and constantly active. The ugly flip side of this convenience? Your financial records, customer files, sales strategies—the stuff of your business—is at constant risk of being corrupted, deleted, infected or hacked.

With these perils in mind, verify that your cloud provider follows best practices for security, including a tape backup that moves sensitive data offline, offsite and away from the threat of viruses, botnets or cybercriminals (while also offering a first line of defense against natural disasters). To strengthen this protection, make sure that only a trusted information management provider is transporting tapes between locations.

Reason #2: Tape isn’t very sexy, but it is cheaper.

On a per-byte basis, disk remains more expensive to own and operate than tape. Tape is typically eight to 10 times less expensive to acquire and operate than disk storage. And there’s more data to store than ever: 56 percent of business technology managers say enterprise storage is growing 10 to 24 percent annually, while almost one-third say it’s increasing even faster than that, according to InformationWeek’s 2013 State of Storage report.

The takeaway here? Using disk to back up the gigabytes of information your company produces every day just doesn’t make bottom-line sense as a long-term strategy.

Reason #3: Tape is the Vampire Lestat of all media.

Tape just keeps on going. Under the right conditions, modern tape cassettes should last for 20 years or more, which makes them ideal for storing archival data. Thanks to this longevity, an enterprise can keep point-in-time copies for as long as they’re needed, and as dictated by business requirements and multiple government and industry regulations.

While spinning disks full of data are well suited to hover and hum in a cloud 24/7, the information your company must retain for the long haul is better retained with cost-effective offsite tape vaulting. Much like Lestat, tapes can sit in a cool, dark place offline for years. Then, at a moment’s notice, you can call them back into action to produce critical documents.

Ultimately, the cloud alone isn’t the be-all, end-all solution for your enterprise data storage needs. By combining cloud storage with a tape backup approach, you can enjoy all of the cloud’s advantages—without the risk of your data vanishing into the netherworld.

DID YOU KNOW? Backing up data to the cloud is catching on—slowly. Enterprises on average use cloud services for 38% of their overall backup tasks, according to a March 2013 TechTarget survey.

Do you have questions about data backup and recovery? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup and Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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