They say a mechanic is only as good as his tools. Whether or not that’s true, or it really comes down to how well he wields and uses those tools, the need for tools to get the job done is undeniable! This is just as true in the cloud as it is anywhere else. For VARs, resellers, and solution providers who are looking to incorporate cloud services into their businesses, cloud-based utilities are a key component to your offerings.
Today Cloud Talk examines a cloud service that has been benefiting customers and their networks for years – Cloud Data Backup. Early on-premises backup solutions quickly suffered from an inability to back up all the data that needed to be backed up quickly enough. The industry responded quickly with “incremental” backup that simply identified which files were changed since the last backup and only backed up the changes. This improvement so dramatically reduced backup time that smart providers started to perform backups remotely over the internet. Automated remote data backup solved another serious problem – human failure. In many networks the person responsible for changing backup tapes often forgot to do so consistently. Often, they neglected the tape backup rotation for so long that they didn’t notice that the backup unit had stopped functioning. This frequently resulted in that all-too-familiar “Oh, NO” moment when the server crashed and they discovered that the data hadn’t been backed up for months. Many companies who experienced this did not survive to tell the tale.
Some enterprising providers created what they jokingly referred to as “FTAM” which stood for “Ford Truck Access Method” in which they had a driver come to pick up the backup tapes each day to store them offsite. The fact that they would be coming was supposed to force the customer into the required discipline. That did not always happen. With cloud data backup, however, there is no need for human intervention. The system automatically backs up incrementally on a scheduled basis.
But Will It Restore?
Experienced network engineers have asked this question only half-jokingly for many years. Most business network owners seldom if ever ran recommended data restore tests so the moment they discovered that their tape drive’s heads had gone out of alignment or the media had gone bad was when they were trying to perform a needed restore. Clearly the worst time to find that out. Today’s cloud data backup providers are far more sophisticated about restoration.
Steve Ferman, owner of New Jersey-based cloud backup firm, eTegrity, proclaims, “I always say it’s all about the recovery, not the backup.” Ferman has been referred to in the trade press as the hardest working man in managed services. “Most providers never ask their clients what their Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) are. The first thing to do is to understand what data you have, how it needs to be recovered, in what time frame and what sequence,” explains Ferman. “Let’s be honest, those four year old files you’re saving may be important, but it’s not critical to restore them to get your operations back up and running.” eTegrity’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) analyzes customer data for key characteristics including:
- How big the files are (catch storage bottle necks)
- The last time someone modified the file (great for archiving info)
- A file type distribution report (tells you what file type is taking up the most space)
- Exchange server report (find the data hog culprit)
Ferman counsels that “Data Recovery can truly make or break a company. Imagine paying 20 employees for 8 hours while your data gets restored. A huge waste of time, money, and client goodwill. If your data is tiered and managed to restore faster from the CLOUD, you can be back up and running hours sooner.”