You can’t swing a cat without hitting a new cloud backup provider these days. The market is so saturated, it’s hard just to find unbiased information on the viability of backing up enterprise data in the cloud, much less details about performance. True, Quorum offers cloud backup options too, but having been in this business for quite some time, we’ve seen the limitations of relying too heavily on web storage. Bandwidth in the U.S. just isn’t ideal, so backing up your data in the cloud is like trying to herd turtles through a swamp, and recovering it is only a little faster.
Cloud Bandwidth Barriers
It’s not the fault of cloud servers. Internet connections simply don’t allow the bandwidth to transfer large amounts of data in a reasonable time frame. The initial seed of a backup can take weeks or months, even over comparatively fast connections, and if you rely on data for your business, you know that’s just unacceptable.
Many providers of cloud backup services recommend an on-site appliance to store data for immediate access. While it’s better than no backup, and it will help you overcome system failures, it does nothing to aid in a disaster situation. If your building is wiped out by a hurricane or tornado before that first seed is complete, you’re done for.
Information Week’s George Crump suggests adding a portable solution to the mix. He writes, “The simple addition of a tape device to the appliance would alleviate this risk. Once the tape copy is made, you could then take it off-site. You could even use the tape to ‘seed’ the cloud copy by overnighting them to the provider – and instead of a week-long sync, you’re done in 24 hours.”
Crump has a good point. Tape is a bit more like the proverbial hare, as getting your data onto tape is lightning fast, and you can then ship it off-site for safe storage. But you can’t keep everything on tape. Just because your data started out moving at a fast pace doesn’t mean it will come across the finish line that way. You may not have access to it after a disaster, because fuel supplies will be low and roads may be closed. How will you get those tapes shipped to your facility if the local infrastructure has been damaged?
And even though the cloud only requires an internet connection, you still have a similar story when it comes to recovering your data. Once again, the internet bandwidth problem slows your data to a crawl.
Even with a fast enterprise connection with, say, download speeds of 100 Mbps, Numion’s download calculator shows it would take at least 22 hours to download 1 Terabyte of data. Most businesses have a lot more data than that. They also have the problems of overhead and other web traffic to contend with, slowing that figure down even more. You can’t wait days, weeks, or months to download your data if you want your business to survive. You need it right away.
Knowing the above, you can make a few basic observations about the challenges in creating reliable data backup and recovery systems that ensure business continuity after a disaster:
Putting all your data in the cloud makes both the upload and download times too long.
Tape backups are fast when it comes to transferring data, but could be hard to recover during a disaster.
On-site appliances are lightning fast for both backup and recovery, but vulnerable to the same risks as your place of business.
So, how did Quorum come up with a solution that takes the best of each of these solutions and overcomes their worst failures? We created a granular approach to backing up and restoring data and then added redundant systems for added data safety.
Creating a Hybrid System for a Reliable, Affordable Backup
Segmentation allows us to separate out critical systems to be backed up to the cloud. In doing so, we minimize the size of the backup itself, making it more accessible through the cloud. For instance, if your business uses 50 PCs and several servers to run, and your risk analysis shows you can continue doing business as long as you have five PCs and two servers, you would back up only those five PCs and two servers to the cloud.
The full backup would be placed on two separate appliances, one on-site and the other at a remote location. These appliances remain synchronized so a failure at one end can be recovered from the other end. Once seeded, synchronization is done via internet communications, which takes very little bandwidth and time because we only synchronize those files that have changed since the last sync. This hybrid system ensures that no matter what happens, so long as you have backup power and satellite internet access, your business can continue operating in a downed public infrastructure. These systems are designed to work in conjunction with tape storage and other traditional data storage systems.
Try the Hybrid Solution
Use Quorum’s Hybrid Cloud/Draas, onQ appliance, and archive vault for a complete backup solution that will help your business remain confidently prepared for anything that comes your way. Request a quote to find out how surprisingly affordable our solutions can be.
Posted on 04/08/2014 at 12:00:00 AM
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