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Today’s information age has ushered in an explosion of data growth as business processes in large and small enterprises alike have become fully dependent on digital data and communications. A hardware or software malfunction that threatens data accessibility will have a direct effect on revenue and business viability. Natural disasters can be even more devastating to businesses by interrupting all operations for an extended period of time and potentially causing major data losses. Comprehensive data protection solutions that are capable of providing continuous data availability and full disaster recovery (DR) capability can be very expensive for many small and medium-size businesses, which is why online, cloud-based backup and DR services are commanding tremendous interest, and why it will be one of the hottest areas of the storage market today.
Online data protection services in the cloud are less expensive than owning your own data protection infrastructure, provide an immediate off-site location for DR, and are inherently scalable. Furthermore, the costs are based on how much data you need to store and protect, not on how much equipment you need to purchase, install, and maintain. But how does one evaluate the relative strengths of a wide array of service offerings? What are the key criteria to look for in an online data protection solution that will provide safe, reliable, and secure backup and DR in the cloud?
Once you have made the decision to go with cloud services – specifically for data protection and DR, which is where the greatest benefits are to be gained – based on necessity, economics, and future data growth, consider these key criteria of what to look for to get the most out of your investment.
Moving data into the cloud
Recovering data from the cloud
In addition, you need to know what options for recovery the cloud storage provider offers. Ideally you will be given the option to recover data on every level, including granular file- or disk-level recovery, full system or a collection of systems, as well as complete site recovery. Regarding the latter, if your entire data center is down due to a natural disaster, can you failover to your service provider’s data center? And how long will it take for you to re-establish operations from the cloud?
Data verification and DR testing
Data security in the cloud
Nevertheless, expect the cloud data protection service provider to offer you the best possible security. First, determine if the data can be encrypted on the customer premises before the data is transferred over the WAN; and, further, determine if the keys to the encrypted data can be stored on the source hosts so that you are in full possession of your encrypted data even when a copy of it resides elsewhere. During restore under this scenario, the data is decrypted when it is received back into the hosts. This way, no matter where the data is, it is only accessible from the machine where the user possesses the keys or the passphrases that generate the keys.
Additional data protection services
The goal of cloud backup and DR
Disk-based data protection and now data protection in the cloud are precipitating a paradigm shift that enables next-generation data protection. Traditional backup methods have struggled to meet the data recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO) for a long time; today, however, cloud-enabled data protection can be a critical part of recovery management in a business continuity plan. By offering instant on-demand recovery, multiple recovery points, backup data verification and systems management, cloud backup and DR provides an innovative ways for IT administrators at SMBs to solve pressing business continuity challenges and meet stringent SLAs just as large enterprises do.
Online cloud-based storage services significantly reduce costs related to data protection processes. In this time of ongoing slow economic growth and limited IT budgets, cloud storage can play a key role in business efficiency, changing the way IT infrastructure is managed. If customers demand the right services at the right price, the cloud will revolutionize one of the most important security measures any company can take to ensure business continuity, which is what data protection is ultimately all about.
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