The emergence of cloud technologies has brought offsite backup and data protection to the forefront of many organization’s thinking. Cloud storage has often proved cost effective, while the ‘pay for what you use’ models of many cloud vendors have offered attractive savings to both corporate organizations as well as small to medium sized enterprises. They are offering reductions on both capex costs as specific hardware to house backed up data need not be purchased, while operational costs are lowered as many providers offer support and maintenance of the backups housed on their platforms.
Many offsite backup solutions differ in their offerings, each offering unique features and advantages that provide different benefits to users and while there are distinct features in certain solutions that may benefit certain data types relating to specific industries or requirements, it is important to view each solution holistically. , It is important to weigh up each solution’s benefits and features rather than implementing a backup strategy based on one key feature advertised to solve all of your data protection needs.
Choosing an offsite backup solution
When deciding on an offsite backup strategy, a number of factors must be considered, none of which is as important as choosing the correct software to facilitate offsite backups. It is critical that the software chosen be suited to the specific needs of your organization. Factors that must be taken into account include the type of data that needs to be backed up, as well as the frequency that backups need to take place and the amount of backups that are capable of being stored for restore.
Many ‘out of the box’ backup solutions on offer fall short when it comes to these factors, as they have been tailored to cater for the general requirements of the average user, and often offer little inflexibility when it comes to requirements that fall out of the ‘average’ category or are specific to certain industries. It is also very important not to over-complicate the backup environment, and ensure that while certain products may offer unique and valuable add-on features, they perform their primary function of backing up data reliably and securely. It is therefore important that the data protection requirements of your organization be laid out adequately, and that any potential offsite backup solution be thoroughly tested against the requirements to ensure the complete benefits of the software will be experienced.
Choosing the correct offsite backup partners
An often overlooked but vitally important aspect of choosing an offsite backup solution is selecting not only a robust solution but ensuring that it is offered by a reputable service provider that has experience in providing offsite backup solutions as well as providing technical support and maintenance functionalities.
While many providers offer offsite backup solutions packaged as cloud backup solutions, it is critical that your chosen provider has the experience and technical knowledge to tailor a solution specific to your data protection requirements. It is important to understand not only the product they offer but also the underlying hardware used to house the data as many providers may make use of adequate technology, yet use out of date or inferior hardware to house the backup data in an effort to offer data backups at cheaper prices. An understanding of the providers’ retention policies must also be understood, as many providers offer only a limited data retention period to mitigate storage costs and lengthy restore times, as well as if data is mirrored to a secure secondary site for disaster recovery purposes.
When weighing up offsite backup solutions there are numerous factors to consider that all add up to make the solution right for your organization. It is vitally important to weigh up the features of the product that is being used to perform the backups.
Factors that need to be considered include:
• the compression and patching standards used in the software
• the level of encryption that is being offered
• the overall ease of use of the software by both the IT professionals managing the backups as well as the general users
• access to self-management features such as the ability to perform their own restores.
These features need to be thoroughly tested and weighed up against the reliability of the service provider that is offering the backup solution. This includes the underlying hardware used to house the backup platform, the security measures enforced by the provider, the technical support that they offer to you as their end user, as well as the level of support they themselves receive from the backup vendor, in the event that third level support is required. It is vital to take all of these factors into account when determining which offsite backup solution is best for your organization.