Tech/Engineering

Top 10 principles of cloud – simplicity

Data protection is not simple. In October 2020, I authored a blog which explores the 10 key principles of a cloud-based service. In this continuation of the Top 10 series, we will look at the simplicity requirements for cloud applications and how they apply to cloud data protection.

Enterprise data environments are complex and the requirements for data protection are daunting, including: 

  • Creating a copy of the data for every application and every device, every day
  • Securing the data copies offsite, and retaining them for years at low cost
  • Restoring a full copy or part of a copy (e.g. files, DB tables) in just minutes 

One backup administrator complained, “What other IT team covers every part of the business with impossible requirements and shrinking budgets? Well, other than the security team, but that just proves my point…” 

Even worse, the cloud is increasing the complexity of data protection. Traditional backup products barely cover data centers, and the scale and rapid deployment of cloud workloads breaks them. “Adding cloud” to legacy backup products further complicates the problem. 

In most organizations, data protection must evolve so the business can survive. Fortunately, following the cloud principles of simplicity drastically streamlines data protection. 

Cloud principles of simplicity

There are three basic principles for cloud simplicity.

Simplified pricing and reduced cost – Cloud applications need to be simple and cost effective.  Buzzwords like “subscription” or “OpEx” are not enough; you should be able to buy without talking to a salesperson – e.g. Amazon Marketplace. In addition, the pricing model should be simple and easy to understand with the cost of the solution dropping yearly to reflect the reduction in cloud costs. 

Radical simplicity – True cloud applications bring radical simplicity by eliminating Day 0, Day 1, and Day 2 operation hassles. The application is already deployed, so you can start running immediately. Software upgrades happen automatically with no downtime. System management, such as security patching, upgrades, and performance management, as well as security and regulatory requirements, are handled for you. 

Linear and infinite scale – Perhaps the most frustrating Day 0 – Day 2 challenge is scaling the application. Why waste time in the vicious cycle of planning and sizing (and replanning and resizing)? Why overprovision just to meet infrequent load bursts? A truly cloud-simple application automatically scales up and scales down to meet your needs.

If an application is truly cloud-simple, it will be easy to buy, deploy, run, and scale, so you can focus on delivering value to the business. 

Cloud-simple workloads break legacy backup

Backup is already the bottleneck in deploying on-premises applications because so much of the work is manual. Backup teams troubleshoot failed backups, tweak the infrastructure to keep pace with data growth, and scramble to protect new applications. With VM automation, it may take 4 hours to deploy an application, but it takes a week to manually set up the backup.

Since legacy backups can barely keep pace with on-premises growth, cloud-simple workloads completely overwhelm them. When the business can deploy, manage, and scale cloud applications in minutes, their static, complex, fragile backup solutions simply collapse. 

Data protection must evolve to handle the new environment, but simply adding “cloud” to a legacy solution is not enough.

Cloud data protection without the principles of simplicity

Retrofitting cloud onto legacy backup products without the principles of cloud simplicity creates more complexity. 

Most products begin by adding a “cloud tier,” which meets none of the cloud simplicity requirements. The customer has to buy and manage the cloud storage, so they pay all cloud fees and do Day 0 – Day 2 management. The “cloud tiers” do not scale because the management is still tied to the on-premises system. 

Legacy products then evolve to “cloud editions,” which is code for “run virtual instances of our product in the cloud.” Now, the customer pays for and manages both the cloud compute and storage. Cloud editions even scale more poorly than on-premises options because they do not have access to the raw hardware.

In desperation, the companies create a “SaaS edition” in which they manage their “cloud edition” for the customers. The customer does not directly pay the operational costs, but they are still overpaying for a solution that is not cloud-simple. Since the backup vendor is running virtual instances for each customer, they pass along the costs of manual management to the customer. The customer will pay for the lack of scalability, and that price will not drop over time. 

Cloud data protection with the principles of simplicity

The only way to protect next-generation applications and improve existing data center protection is a data protection solution built with cloud simplicity. 

To identify a data protection solution that is built with cloud simplicity, look for the following key attributes:

Simplified pricing and reduced cost: You should be able to purchase the product from a marketplace or a traditional seller. There should be a single price based on simple metrics: data stored, users protected, etc. The vendor should be able to show a history of price reductions on those simple metrics. 

Radical simplicity: You should never have to install or upgrade backup software. New functionality should automatically appear multiple times per month without any service disruption. The solution should have core security and regulatory certifications. 

Linear and infinite scale: The system should handle any sized backup or restore workloads, even as they fluctuate over time. The system should offer global deduplication to show it uses one scalable data store. The solution should also only charge for what you are using, because a pre-purchase is a sign that you are paying for the vendor’s inefficiencies. 

With the simplicity of cloud, data protection can scale with your production cloud applications. Even better, cloud-simple data protection simplifies on-premises data protection, so your business can focus on deploying, migrating and scaling even more workloads. 

Conclusion

Data protection is not simple, and the rapid deployment of new cloud workloads only makes it more challenging. As a shifting environment forces an evolution of your data protection strategy, be skeptical about products that call themselves “cloud,” “cloud-native,” or “SaaS.” Evaluate the solutions based on the three principles of cloud simplicity: Simplified pricing and reduced cost, radical simplicity, and linear and infinite scale. 

At Druva, we believe our architecture is cloud-simple, but don’t just take our word for it, we invite you to try Druva for yourself. Visit the cloud platform overview page to learn more, as well as get access to a free trial or demonstration today. 

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