Independent professionals, such as consultants and sales people, may easily get by with something like Apple’s iCloud or other backup and storage services targeted to consumers. Businesses with multiple employees and perhaps multiple locations may do better with cloud services designed specifically for businesses. This is especially true if they are part of a managed solution that includes other IT services.
There are two approaches to cloud based file backup. One is to use the cloud as a separate repository for maintaining copies of important business files. The other is to take advantage of the inherent self-healing properties of the cloud itself.
“Cloud” is a moniker that is slapped onto just about any remote data center facility. The cloud is somewhere, out there. It may be as simple as a rack full of disk drives that you write to remotely. The real cloud model, though, is based on virtualization. A virtualized environment separates functionality from specific hardware. All the hardware is pooled and allotted on an as-needed basis. Cloud providers ensure that there is sufficient real hardware to not only meet any anticipated needs, but also to handle any equipment failures. If something should go awry, it is the cloud system’s job to make equipment reassignments invisible to the user.
This argues for running everything in the cloud. If your servers, storage and applications are all run out of the cloud, you don’t have to worry about how you are going to run backups. That’s all taken care of automatically. You also have access to the cloud anywhere you have connectivity. With a virtualized desktop you can even use various devices, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, from office or field locations to get files and run applications.
A good example of such cloud solutions is the service provided by NewCloud Networks. One of the options you can specify is to have every file you upload to your cloud server mirrored 1:1 elsewhere in the cloud. If the hardware fails, your data is still available right there in the cloud. No need to upload everything again. You can also specify snapshot backups of your entire server and automatic hourly, daily, weekly or monthly backups.
Their virtual servers have self-healing architectures. If any node fails, cloud servers running resources on that node will be re-provisioned to alternative hardware automatically. Failover can be engineered to be instantaneous for applications with critical requirements.
The virtualized environment is all contained within a SAS-70 Data center with 100 Gbps on connectivity provided by four separate fiber strands from two different providers. Two power feeds come in from two separate entrances. There are multiple air conditioning units, redundant power supplies on each physical server, redundant routing and switching and backup power from UPS battery backup and redundant diesel generators.
The alternative approach is to keep all of your IT assets local and use the cloud for backups and disaster recovery. This has the advantage of causing the least upset in your current way of doing business while offering the protection of offsite backup to prevent data loss from local fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and the like.
Perhaps the biggest limitation to simple remote backup and recovery is the capacity of the link to your service provider. This is no problem for individual file access but can be a bottleneck for recovery operations. Electronic data today piles up in Gigabytes and Terabytes. Larger organizations can be generating this much data per employee. It may all be safely stored as created and modified, but how long will it take to get back. If all you have for connectivity is a T1 line, it’s going to be a long, long time. Even with faster Ethernet over Copper or fiber optic services, you could be in for a long download process to restore everything after a major disaster. For servers in the cloud, backup data is right next door and can be accessed immediately.
What works best for your business? File backup to the cloud or computing and storage within the cloud? Compare cloud IT online backup services for business to find the optimum price/performance solution for your company.