Software-as-a-service as a concept was introduced a couple of decades ago, but it’s really been in the past 10 years that its adoption has grown. Today, SaaS is an essential tool every business relies on to manage the cost and complexity of their IT infrastructure. However, not all services are built to the same standards, nor will they necessarily meet your needs.
It’s important to note that every successful cloud service is built on the same 10 core design principles, and data protection-as-a-service is no exception. These 10 cloud principles will help you assess the maturity, simplicity, optimizations, and extensibility of a data protection service, so you can make an informed decision, and step confidently into the cloud.
New cloud offerings are coming to market everyday, making it important to assess the maturity of a data protection service.
1 Reliability and Availability
Backup is your safety net, so you need a proven platform. The backup service may need to store your data for decades, so it must add layers of reliability on top of already stable cloud components – e.g. data checksums, hygiene, and verification. It also needs to be available to backup or restore data at any time, so it must be highly available and resilient to any outage.
The data protection service is taking responsibility for protecting, retaining, and recovering your applications and data; what is more important than – “Will it work?”
As a central repository with a copy of all your data, backup has to be secure. Cyber attackers have learned to target backups first, so the protection infrastructure must be completely separate from the production environment. The data should also be encrypted, so that only you can access your data.
You would not take chances with your backups; neither should your cloud provider.
Compliance regulations serve two purposes for evaluating cloud services. First, certifications like FedRAMP, SOC2, and HIPAA signal that the service provider takes security and best practices seriously. Second, since your organization may need to adhere to regulations like data locality, you need to find a provider that has a platform that runs where you need it.
Compliance is not a checkbox; it’s proof that the data protection service takes your data as seriously as you do.
4 Breadth of support
Breadth of coverage is a strong signal for the maturity of a platform. It demonstrates the extensibility of the platform, the ability of the provider to build expertise in multiple workloads, and ability to partner with others.
Evaluating breadth of support isn’t just about today’s requirements; it’s a way to be sure your data protection service can grow with you.
One of the main benefits of moving to the cloud is to simplify your operations, and your data protection service should be no different.
5 Ease of Management
Cloud services should eliminate work, not extend or even complicate existing processes. Since cloud is dynamic, any viable cloud data protection service should eliminate: capacity management, system management, and software upgrades. Furthermore, it should be as easy to manage one site as it is to manage thousands. With the cloud’s native AI/ML tools, exemplary cloud services should advise you on how to optimize both your backup and production environments.
Ease of management is a litmus test for whether a service is cloud-washed (rebranding a legacy service as “cloud”) or a true data protection cloud service.
6 Ease of purchase
Today, customers make 70% or more of their buying decisions before even talking to a salesperson. Even more are shifting from large capital purchases to operational expenses. The process works well until they are hit with surprise cloud costs. Therefore, a well-designed cloud service must be easy to purchase (e.g. Amazon Marketplace) with reliable costs (e.g. one clear price).
Ease of purchase, license transparency, and predictability of costs shows that the vendor is focused on building a cloud data protection service, instead of retrofitting it onto their existing business model.
Your corporate resources are a valuable commodity, and your data protection solution should strive to optimize their utilization as part of their design.
7 Network optimization
Cloud can help organizations deal with data sprawl – data stored in the cloud, endpoints, and data centers – because it can connect anywhere, but organizations need to manage bandwidth, security, and resiliency. Cloud data protection services should combine global source-based deduplication, bandwidth management, and the use of on-premises options (e.g. AWS Snowball Edge) to ensure that you can always backup and, more importantly, restore your data quickly.
Global network optimization demonstrates that the organization designed the platform for the limitations of cloud.
8 Storage optimization
Cloud offers an overwhelming menu of low-cost storage options. While the prices are enticing, one has to be aware of the tradeoffs (fees, performance limitations, etc.). Cloud services do not put the burden on the customer to figure out how to store their data on the cloud platform. The value of a service comes from automatically storing the customers’ data (e.g. backups) to meet their Service Level Objectives (SLOs) at the best possible cost.
Automated storage optimization demonstrates that a data protection service is building on the cloud vendors’ native tools, rather than trying to retrofit a legacy model to a new environment.
No business operates in a vacuum, and neither should your data protection. You should expect more value from your cloud services.
9 Partner ecosystem
In the cloud, no service runs in a vacuum. A data protection cloud service must integrate with Identity and Access Management (IAM), audit logging, security analytics, and more. Just as traditional backup tools integrated with on-premises environments, cloud services must do the same. A healthy partner ecosystem demonstrates that a cloud service is: API-driven, collaborative, and flexible enough to evolve with the cloud.
If you want a data protection service to partner with you, it should demonstrate that it can partner with others.
10 Additional use cases
The cloud provides the most powerful, most advanced compute infrastructure the world has ever known. A data protection service should not treat it like just another set of processors, memory, and storage. With a central repository of data in the cloud, you can detect ransomware attacks, and unusual data access patterns. You can run on-demand disaster recovery. You can run eDiscovery investigations.
In the cloud, data protection services can finally add the value to backup that people have been promised for decades. Make sure they deliver.
Not all cloud data protection is created equal. The 10 core principles of a cloud service should help you assess how best to adopt data protection in the cloud. The criteria enable you to evaluate the maturity, simplicity, optimization, and extensibility of the data protection offering, so you can make the right choice for your business. Choose wisely.
Learn more about the Druva Cloud Platform and what it can do for you.