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Key principles of an effective cloud backup service

As the data cost of business continues to grow in size and scope, organizations are looking to extend on-premises data centers as well as shift their applications to the cloud. When combined with the growing need for strong protection for SaaS applications — such as Microsoft 365 and Salesforce — traditional data backup solutions simply can’t keep up with today’s needs. 

With new offerings added to market daily, there are a number of fundamental principles potential customers should use to evaluate a solution’s appropriateness for their particular needs. In this blog, we’ll detail ten key principles of a cloud-based backup service to help your organization make an informed decision when choosing a potential cloud backup vendor.

1) Reliability and availability

Ensuring a cloud data protection solution performs as desired depends on two important attributes — that the system works consistently, and, if it does fail, you have isolated backups immediately available. These make certain your business processes can’t be interrupted. 

Different types of data are maintained in different resources — such as storing configuration data in a relational database service, and deduplicated metadata in Apache Cassandra nodes. Strong cloud data protection providers consistently test and re-evaluate their storage resources so the customer doesn’t have to. Evaluate each potential cloud backup vendor closely for well-defined uptime SLAs for each configuration of their backup service. In addition, look for a proven cloud backup vendor with a mature product as it will offer a number of advantages over a newer market offering.

2) Zero-trust security

Surprisingly, cloud storage platforms can be just as vulnerable to cyberthreats like ransomware as on-premises backup appliances and data centers. One simple mistake in system configuration, such as misallocating admin privileges, can make an organization’s backup data accessible to threats. While cloud service providers (CSPs) like AWS are responsible for the security of their cloud infrastructure, this does not include the stored data itself. 

Look for a cloud backup vendor implementing the zero trust model: “never trust, always verify,” as well as the 3-2-1 rule — three copies of data on two different media, with one copy offsite — to completely separate backup data from the production environment. In addition, a truly secure solution also incorporates single sign-on and multi-factor authentication, anomaly detection, and makes it simple to locate the last-good-backup copy (pre-infection). 

3) Compliance and privacy

With costly fines and lawsuits at risk, customers need to ensure their cloud backup vendor takes all compliance requirements seriously, and updates accordingly as laws change over time. That’s why when you’re evaluating a cloud data protection provider, you have to be especially careful to ensure they take compliance as seriously as you do. 

Obtaining certifications such as FedRAMP for government data management, or HIPAA for healthcare, isn’t easy. Check to see the certifications a potential cloud backup vendor holds; these ensure a provider has established and is following strict information policies and procedures concerning the security, availability, processing, integrity, and confidentiality of customer data, and demonstrates that the cloud backup service provider conducts business with security and best practices in mind. 

4) Data localization and multi-regional support

Data localization/residency concerns the physical location of data storage, and how this data is accessed. Typically, governments regulate data that may include personal, governmental, or legal information, and a cloud data protection provider needs to be fully aware and compliant with the diverse state, country, and regional laws. GDPR in the European Union and California’s CCPA are two of the most highlighted regulations, however, each corner of the world may have its own unique restrictions on how data is stored and shared. 

In addition, regulations often require that processing or analyzing certain types of data take place locally as well — requiring investments in local infrastructure. Cloud-based data protection providers must know and comply with these regulations as predictably as they maintain backups. This means an ideal cloud backup vendor offers multi-regional resources, and access to data centers strategically located close to wherever its customers conduct business. Ideally, these resources would scale as its customers expand to new regions and markets. 

5) Radical simplicity

Among the foremost advantages to cloud-native SaaS solutions is how it does away with a score of management tasks typical of traditional apps. In fact, this ease of management is a quick way of telling if an app was designed with the cloud in mind from the beginning. While some legacy products may add cloud connectivity features and rebrand as “cloud-ready,” these products will not bring the performance or function of a cloud-native solution. 

Cloud backup services eliminate work — they’re easy to deploy, operate, and scale so organizations can thrive and expand. Read more about solution simplicity in this blog, and look for the following characteristics of a strong, comprehensive cloud data protection solution:

  • Automatic and frequent updates
  • Consumption-based pricing
  • Easy to manage
  • Scale based on use
  • Core security and regulatory certifications

6) Simplified pricing and reduced cost

As old architectures have been replaced with comparatively simple solutions, the deployment of cloud backup service involves little more than an internet connection. As a result, today’s solutions are able to offer costs at a fraction of what you’d pay for a legacy app while providing double the functionality. Costs for a cloud-based solution should be up front and straightforward; when shopping for a potential solution, follow these steps:

  • Purchase from a marketplace (such as Amazon Marketplace) and make sure you’re being charged fairly
  • Know exactly what you’re paying for — ideally a single price based on how much the solution is used
  • Look for a history of price reductions
  • Understand the licensing
  • Avoid retrofitted apps or purchase processes

7) Linear and infinite scalability

In a well-architected cloud application, linear scalability means that the application can provide the same benefits regardless of how demand fluctuates. Both data processing and storage resources can automatically be added and subtracted based on the customer’s need. With an effective solution, an organization can now manage 100x the amount of business without an increase to time or effort. The cost model is simple — only increasing or decreasing when additional or fewer resources are used. 

Comparatively, a traditional non-linear application works within the confines of on-premises infrastructure and requires exact capacity planning — resources are wasted if not used. A true cloud-native data protection solution automatically scales to meet your needs, so you can focus on delivering value to your business. 

8) Network optimization

IT managers are realizing that data sprawl is a fact of life for modern enterprise networks. As your organization grows, critically-important data will be stored in the cloud, on endpoints, and in data centers. By leveraging the cloud, this data will all be connected, but cloud resources will need to be managed efficiently for the organization to function effectively. Organizations should look to deduplication and bandwidth management to aid in these efforts. 

Data deduplication changes the economics of data storage and management, however, just how much efficiency is achieved depends on the type of deduplication implemented. Bandwidth management is the routing of network traffic to and from the cloud while maintaining performance for all users globally. By leveraging a SaaS application, these occur transparently to users, and application bandwidth fluctuates naturally based on need. Learn more about bandwidth optimization in the blog.

9) Data portability and disaster recovery

With massive amounts of critical data generated each day, the impact of corruption or data loss from human error, hardware failure, malware, or hacking can be crippling. Therefore, it is essential for your organization to create a disaster recovery plan for the restoration of business data from a clean backup. 

Cloud applications have completely changed the game for disaster recovery, and rendered most traditional methods obsolete. In addition, personal data is now accessible only by those who are properly authorized, and the software processing this data can be customized, flexible, and hosted regionally wherever regulations dictate.

10) APIs to enable a healthy partner ecosystem

From the very beginning, the cloud was developed based on standardized communication protocols. This enables an enormous number of services to integrate with one another. It’s the nature of the cloud to encourage multiple vendors to work together, complementing each others’ capabilities and creating productive partner ecosystems.

Cloud data protection solutions use the cloud for the express purpose of securely interacting with partners. They can integrate with a huge variety of beneficial value-added services — such as identity and access management (IAM) services to ensure only credentialed employees can interact with your critical data and resources. Additionally, support for litigation software is another important component of the ecosystem. eDiscovery requires preserving content and metadata — while a complex process, your legal team’s efforts will be much simpler, quicker, and more effective with an integrated solution to access and scour files.

Next steps

As the data backup needs of today’s organizations continue to scale and evolve, the immediate need for a more effective and comprehensive cloud data protection solution increases. Only by leveraging the capabilities of a proven cloud backup vendor can your organization leave behind the cost and complexity of legacy solutions. 

Download the eBook for a deep-dive into the ten key principles of a cloud backup service, read more about data protection for the cloud era in a blog from Druva CTO Stephen Manley and CEO Jaspreet Singh, and feel empowered that your organization can make the right choice when evaluating today’s cloud backup vendors.