The Dummies Guide to Cloud Data Backup

In a 2016 report on Cloud Data Backup, Gartner states that 10% of enterprises are using Cloud for Data Backup and Recovery during the beginning of 2016. Gartner has also predicted that by 2020, 30% of organizations will leverage backup for more than just operational recovery and would implement disaster recovery, test/development, DevOps, etc. It further states that by 2018, 30% of business and application owners will have more self-service control over their data protection services. Gartner Reports that by 2020, over 40% of organizations will supplant long-term backup with Cloud archiving systems.

Why Cloud for Backup and Recovery

Backup and Recovery is one of the key use-cases which has driven cloud adoption and will continue to drive adoption further to SMEs. CIOs have been more open to consider Cloud as a Backup Storage platform especially when the data is highly encrypted. The primary drivers for this openness are the inherent limitations of the traditional backup solutions like tape based systems:

  • Taking Backups and storing them physical in same location is not a good solution against natural disasters because the backups would have the same risk as the original data.
  • When the affordability to back-up data in data-centers across disparate locations is applicable only to a large enterprises which can afford data centers at multiple locations, managing the recovery and ensuring data-security for even those back-up data stores is a more complex problem.
  • Data Recovery takes lot more time and effort because it involves manual operations with many security-related authorization and approval levels built into the access of the archived data processing.

In contrast, Cloud offers cost effective multiple different storage systems including hard disks, SSDs and tapes that can be used to build a sophisticated multi-layered backup and retrieval system for transaction datasets. Hence Most enterprises use the Backup and Recovery as the first use case in their Cloud Adoption Journey. Gartner estimates that today more than 20% of organizations have already supplanted their long-term backup systems with Cloud based archiving system. While Security is raised as a major concern against Cloud, it is ironical that Cloud is recognized as the ideal Backup and Recovery platform to provide information security.

Range of Cloud Backup Solutions: DIY to Certified Solutions

Enterprises can architect their Cloud Backup solution using the generic AWS storage solutions like AWS Elastic Block Store (EBS), AWS Simple Storage (S3), Amazon Glacier etc. based on their custom requirements at varying levels of complexity. These solutions can range from simple DIY to AWS certified third party products that can achieve highest levels efficiency and scalability within their backup and recovery environments.

Guide to Architecting Do-it-Yourself Solution

For enterprises that want to build their own custom Backup, Archive and Restore solutions, AWS has provided a lot of reference and educational materials including whitepapers in its websites. While creating a custom architecture, it is critical to understand the range of storage classes designed for different use cases. The Amazon S3 Standard is for general-purpose storage of frequently accessed data only. The Amazon S3 Standard — Infrequent Access is used for long-lived, but less frequently accessed data. For Long-Term archive storage, Amazon Glacier has to be used. Amazon S3 provides architects the ability to define and configure lifecycle policies to manage the data throughout its lifecycle. When a data lifecycle policy is set, the data will be migrated between the different storage classes without any changes to the enterprise’s applications. A simple database backup solution can be created by configuring these three storage types and their data lifecycles appropriately.

For a more sophisticated real-time backup and recovery solution, the AWS CloudFormation and AWS Opsworks tools can be used to create custom Backup Architectures through Infrastructure as Code approach which can be created within minutes if needed. With AWS CloudFormation and AWS Opsworks, the live application can be backed up in code repositories and used to create a full-blown infrastructure at the time it is needed.

AWS Marketplace: Automated tools and Products for Backup:

Most enterprises prefer to leverage pre-tested and certified trustable solutions for Backup and recovery because of the inherent complexity in the process. Amazon Cloud Marketplace provides a long list of third party Cloud Backup solutions for an enterprise to choose from, based on the cost vs functionality trade-offs. These Solutions provide different suite of backup features such as real-time database backup to simple file-based backup. For Entry level file based Backup and recovery, there are also many open source based alternatives like Duplicati, Veeam etc.

To gain a better insight into how many enterprises are leveraging the Cloud not only for simple File based Cloud Backup but also for disaster recovery, test/development, DevOps, etc., look at the in-depth of Botmetric here.