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Identifying the Benefits of Remote Backup in the Cloud

By tapping into the cloud, businesses can build a backup and recovery solution that doesn't require big investments in hardware.

Cloud-based remote backup offers benefits in four main areas: cost, risk, flexibility and quality. By backing up data in the cloud, businesses can reduce and simplify their cost structures while offloading some of their risk to a service provider.

They can leverage the elasticity of cloud computing to become more agile in responding to changing circumstances. And they can capitalize on outsourcing some of their IT responsibilities by redirecting precious resources to activities with more direct effect on the business, relying on the provider’s core competency to achieve better backup services.

Cost: The most obvious benefits of cloud computing have to do with cost. Cloud-based remote backup can mean a significant reduction in upfront capital expenditures because there is no need to purchase extensive hardware infrastructure or software licenses. Instead, the organization can align its costs with actual usage.

Moreover, the IT team doesn’t have to overprovision backup storage capacity to accommodate uncertain growth. And finally, remote backup can be configured as an automatic process both transparent to the user and requiring less IT administration and support.

Risk: Remote backup can offload risk from the customer to the service provider. By contractually stipulating provisions for data protection and disaster recovery that are tied to specific indemnities in the event of service failures, a company can further mitigate risk.

Remote backup also reduces the likelihood of underprovisioning data storage. During daily IT operations, data usage patterns can’t always be predicted. There is the possibility of unanticipated spikes in storage requirements — some beyond the capacity physically available. Cloud providers offer elastic resource allocation and unlimited data retention, making it less likely that storage capacity will ever be exhausted.

Also related to risk is data security. In cloud computing, security is often considered a challenge because the organization is entrusting some of its IT systems or data to a third party. Nevertheless, there are several benefits that cloud computing may offer with respect to security.

Cloud providers typically undergo very strict security audits. In addition, precisely because they are entrusted with clients’ information, providers typically employ best-available security procedures and solutions, and they keep those solutions up to date.

Furthermore, when using cloud for backup, it can be easier for a business to isolate customer and employee data if they are managed in different environments, mitigating the risk of inadvertently mixing the two and potentially revealing one or the other. To increase overall data security, it might make sense to segregate data — housing customer information in the cloud and staff information on an internal network.

Flexibility: A cloud infrastructure adds considerable flexibility and agility to enterprise architecture. As cited earlier, the scalable, elastic storage capacity afforded by a cloud service means that rapid data growth is easily accommodated. At the same time, the metering capabilities of a cloud service ensure that an organization pays only for the storage it uses.

Flexibility also comes in the form of speed of execution. For example, companies can roll out cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) with little preparation or planning time. When it comes to remote backup, using a cloud means data backups can happen continuously, which supports superior recovery point objectives (RPOs).

Similarly, data restoration can take place on demand, supporting excellent recovery time objectives (RTOs). Both RPO and RTO are important components of an organization’s disaster recovery planning.

Finally, a globally replicated cloud infrastructure can facilitate data access from anyplace using any device at any time, which contributes to greater user flexibility and productivity. This cloud advantage is even more important when a company needs to integrate its business processes with those of its suppliers, partners and customers.

Quality: Quality of service (QoS) is clearly a major concern. Cloud service providers offer great economies of scale and specialization. They have developed rigorous processes and procedures to maximize uptime and optimize performance.

They run best-available software to monitor and manage the infrastructure, and they employ some of the most skilled practitioners to oversee management tools.

An on-demand, cloud-based service model can also be better than on-premises purchased and installed software because the service provider is able to distribute new functionality transparently without IT department intervention. As a result, users often receive more frequent and more timely updates as well as new functionality without the company’s own IT staff having to test, schedule and provision each rollout.

For more on remote backup in the cloud, read this CDW white paper.

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Nov 15 2012 Spice IT

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