What You Need to Think About When Considering Clouds and Data Protection

Posted 08/23/2016 by Commvault

Today, you can’t have a conversation about transformational IT without talking about 'the cloud.' That discussion often centers on the topic of which cloud(s) to use for production and protection.

In the case of production-related clouds, some folks will want to run IT the traditional way, but on hosted platforms, as VMs in an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environment. Others will further embrace production cloud services running as software-as-a-service (SaaS). Protecting those IaaS and SaaS environments involves some commonalities and some very different considerations.

Remember that when you protect a traditional on-premises infrastructure, you are attempting to achieve two things:

  1. Productivity by ensuring rapid recovery and thus supporting users more effectively.
  2. Preservation by retaining previously “known good” or operationally required/regulatory-mandated data for historical or reversion purposes.

Most people correctly presume that both IaaS and SaaS are natively durable. You won’t be “failing over” Office 365 or Salesforce. If one instance of those services goes offline, the client software/browser automatically and transparently reconnects without you ever knowing.

Downtime concerns often drive the effort to ensure data protection. But since the “productivity” goal is relatively ensured when using IaaS and SaaS, it can be too easy to assume (erroneously) that one doesn’t have to protect IaaS or SaaS data.

The truth is that all corporate data must be protected to a corporate standard, regardless of whether it resides in on-site servers, off-site clouds, or endpoint devices. You need to protect that data not only because you have been mandated to preserve it, but also because good data can be overwritten by bad data, which you’ll then need to reverse.

New, soon-to-be-published ESG research on data protection cloud strategies is showing that most organizations intend to protect their cloud-based data somewhere else. Either from one cloud to another, such as from Amazon to Azure or vice versa, or from a production cloud to backup-as-a-service (BaaS). Alternatively, they might bring cloud-based data back to their own premises so that they can directly “touch” the copies of last resort.

Despite the hype and the many actual migrations of production systems to various clouds these days, something even more pervasive is happening. Organizations are moving to incorporate cloud services into their data protection strategy. Among the hundreds of organizations surveyed by ESG, in fact, the top two reported use cases for cloud infrastructure are data backup and BC/DR. 1

But even then, a hard choice arises: Should you add cloud storage to an otherwise satisfactory on-premises backup solution, or should you get rid of your on-premise solution entirely and fully embrace BaaS?

ESG has identified the respective decision drivers for BaaS and for STaaS/dp (storage-as-a-service used for data protection). The choice boils down to:

  1. How satisfied you are with your existing backup solution? If you’re not satisfied, then adding a cloud storage tier is unlikely to solve much.
  2. Whether you have fully quantified the TCO of BaaS versus STaaS/dp - not just calculating the cost per gigabyte stored or cost per machine protected, but also factoring in the extra agility that varying cloud services might bring to you.

Perhaps one reason Commvault invited me to contribute to its blog is that the Commvault platform covers so many scenarios: Namely, it can be delivered through managed service providers as BaaS; it can add cloud storage to an on-prem deployment; it can support protection of IaaS-hosted VMs; and it can protect some SaaS platforms.

Certainly, the answer to every data protection question isn’t automatically “Commvault.” But as a long-standing data protection innovator that continues to evolve its offerings and continues to refine how those offerings can be consumed, Commvault is worth considering when your next conversation about the cloud for data protection inevitably occurs.

1 Source: ESG Research Report, 2016 IT Spending Intentions Survey, February 2016.