Cloud Backup isn't just someone else's problem

Posted on February 05, 2018

Cloud Backup

There are many advantages to using cloud storage. Generally it’s the less expensive, safer option, and has the advantage of both flexibility and connectivity. However, there are pitfalls if it’s not managed properly. Here are some of the most common mistakes made when using cloud-based storage and more importantly, how your organisation can avoid these issues.

Tiered storage has not been considered

Over time, the cost of cloud storage can add up to be greater than local storage - particularly if data has not been analysed and evaluated.   In many cases, a tiered arrangement of data could be used.  

Tiered storage is where backups are stored on different types of media .  The tiers can range anywhere from two to five or even up to six tiers.  Data should be evaluated on performance, availability, and recovery requirements when deciding on storage location and media. The advantage of tiered storage is that it can lower cost and generally improve operational efficiency if prepared and classified correctly.

For example, restoration information needed in the event of data loss could be housed locally for quick recovery, while data needing to be kept for regulatory or historic purposes could be archived and then copied to tape.  All other day-to-day data that needs to be more regularly backed up, could be moved to cloud-based storage for quick and easy access.

When cost saving was the only consideration

Using cloud storage as a cost-saving measure is one of the most common reasons to switch to the cloud.  However, this should not be your only consideration.  

Moving data storage to the cloud is not a cure-all for any data or IT issues. Preparation is vital before moving to the cloud.  If data is compromised or in disarray before moving, having cloud-based storage and backup is not going to help in the slightest.  It’s  only going to make the associated cost and risk of fixing it higher in the long run.  

Cloud-based backup being used as a set-and-forget system

Before moving to the cloud, storage needs should be evaluated carefully, and all data should be ordered, purged or prioritised. Decide what data will be moved to the cloud and what can be kept in other locations such as existing hardware assets which might not necessarily need to be made redundant.  

Once the move to cloud-based storage has been made, it is essential data continues to be managed and monitored for any problems.  Topography and references of what data is where, should be kept current.  

The wrong storage service provider was selected

It’s imperative  your storage service provider is evaluated to suit all of your organisation’s requirements. Checking up on their downtime, reliability, the size of other companies they handle, as well as the size of the service provider themselves are all important considerations.

For example, if you’re part of a large organisation with complex data requirements, a larger provider  may be able to meet your criteria more easily.  Likewise, if you’re part of a smaller organisation, your needs may not be a high enough priority with a huge telco.

Scrutinise your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) carefully and examine the alignment of your goals and objectives with what you’re getting.

Choosing the wrong service plan

If storage requirements are too high, your organisation could be paying too much and not getting enough storage, meaning you’re soon going to run into capacity issues, hindering both performance and functionality.

Matching your existing requirements is a good start, but your potential and varying future storage needs also  should  to be taken into account.

SLAs explain what is covered in your plan and what isn’t. Consider application response times, encryption inclusions and exactly what happens during any downtime—making provisions for these in your costs and planning.

Ideally, your organisation will be able to switch service plans easily and without financial implications as storage needs change over time. This should be reflected in the SLA.

Bandwidth too low

Speed is of the essence when considering cloud-based backup, with traffic going both ways.  Your organisation needs to evaluate its own bandwidth and supplier, as well as looking at the storage provider’s network speeds.

Losing control over your data

Your data is your responsibility—even when it’s  housed off-site or in the cloud.  Ensure you understand where your cloud data will be stored and the implications of the storage location..  For example, in some countries, servers can be seized and impounded—even if an investigation has nothing to do with your company other than a shared physical server.  Precautions to consider include a mirrored server setup or a dual network link.   

Preparation is essential when considering any changes to your backup or storage requirements.  In an ideal situation, your organisation will get things right from the very beginning.  But if things haven’t gone according to plan, at least you know now how to fix them.

Want to further discuss your backup or storage requirements? Call Vocus on 1800 023 375.

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