I recently did a search on cloud backup on the Internet and found some interesting results. The pricing structures fluctuated greatly and many of the solutions seemed more like straight Internet backup than actually a true Cloud Solution. The first step should be to define what a cloud is.
What is Cloud computing?
Cloud computing is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the Internet. These services are broadly divided into three categories: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The name cloud computing was inspired by the cloud symbol that’s often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.
A cloud service has three distinct characteristics that differentiate it from traditional hosting. It is sold on demand, typically by the minute or the hour; it is elastic — a user can have as much or as little of a service as they want at any given time; and the service is fully managed by the provider (the consumer needs nothing but a personal computer and Internet access). Significant innovations in virtualization and distributed computing, as well as improved access to high-speed Internet and a weak economy, have accelerated interest in cloud computing.
A cloud can be private or public. A public cloud sells services to anyone on the Internet. A private cloud is a proprietary network or a data center that supplies hosted services to a limited number of people. When a service provider uses public cloud resources to create their private cloud, the result is called a virtual private cloud. Private or public, the goal of cloud computing is to provide easy, scalable access to computing resources and IT services.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service like Amazon Web Services provides virtual server instance API to start, stop, access and configure their virtual servers and storage. In the enterprise, cloud computing allows a company to pay for only as much capacity as is needed, and bring more online as soon as required. Because this pay-for-what-you-use model resembles the way electricity, fuel and water are consumed, it’s sometimes referred to as utility computing.
Platform-as-a-service in the cloud is defined as a set of software and product development tools hosted on the provider’s infrastructure. Developers create applications on the provider’s platform over the Internet. PaaS providers may use APIs, website portals or gateway software installed on the customer’s computer. Force.com, (an outgrowth of Salesforce.com) and pds2k.com Hosted Exchange, Sharepoint and Office Web Apps are examples of PaaS. Developers need to know that currently, there are no standards for interoperability or data portability in the cloud. Some providers will not allow software created by their customers to be moved off the provider’s platform.
In the software-as-a-service cloud model, the vendor supplies the hardware infrastructure, the software product and interacts with the user through a front-end portal. SaaS is a very broad market. Services can be anything from web-based email to inventory control and database processing. Because the service provider hosts both the application and the data, the end user is free to use the service from anywhere.
So what is cloud backup?
Understanding that cloud computing needs to be part of a heterogeneous network, a cloud backup solution must be an extension of your network. Many of the applications that I have seen do nothing more than copy files from your server to a server on the Internet. Based on the above definition that is not a true cloud backup. You have no direct control over the destination. If you desire you cannot manage the device or make changes to how it operates. Not very heterogeneous is it?
When we implement a solution, we provision a complete environment that is part of the companies network. This provides them with the ultimate level of control. We actually go for a hybrid cloud solution. Hybrid cloud backup works by storing data to a local disk so that the backup can be captured at high speed to a server with sufficient local disk storage. This server is configured initially by our engineers to capture backups according to a schedule that you define.
If the server that the backup appliance is polling is fast enough, backups can be configured to be taken every 15 minutes. Not many people need that level of protection, but it is available to those that need it. Those incremental backups are stored locally on your network. Since the backup is local you do not need to maintain an internet connection that can support a continuous backup stream. It also provides the ability to restore data over the network at hard drive speeds and not the substantially slower internet speeds. Nightly the server encrypts and transmits data to our facility. The remote copy can also provide business continuity should something happen to the client facility.
Speaking of business continuity…
Our cloud backup solution does make use of Windows backup features for both System State and Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) backups. BMR recovery can be performed to virtual servers. What this means is that if you have a catastrophic server failure, we have the option of provisioning a virtual server for your use in your private cloud. This will allow restoration of data instantaneously. In a traditional environment you would need to wait for a server to be ordered, the server built, configured, setup and then installed. That can take days or even weeks. Then you still have to wait for the data to be restored, which is not a very efficient means of restoration.
If you would like more information or would like a no charge evaluation of your backup solution, call us at 860.450.1737 or email us at email@example.com.