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5/5/2010
12:41 PM
George Crump
George Crump
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Cloud's Role In Backup, Part II

In our last entry we discussed how the backup process is a natural fit for the use of cloud storage and how the first model of cloud backup is being used. In this entry we will discuss the second of the other two cloud backup implementation methods, hybrid cloud storage and then tomorrow we will cover cloud enabled enterprise backup.

In our last entry we discussed how the backup process is a natural fit for the use of cloud storage and how the first model of cloud backup is being used. In this entry we will discuss the second of the other two cloud backup implementation methods, hybrid cloud storage and then tomorrow we will cover cloud enabled enterprise backup.Hybrid cloud backup, as we discuss in our video "What is Hybrid Cloud Storage", places an intermediary appliance on premise to act essentially as a cache to the cloud. In the hybrid cloud backup model this device will typically store the last few backups but also replicate those backups to the cloud for long term archive. This can be an ideal placement for the two backup data types; near term backups and long term archives.

Typically if you need to do a full system recovery the data for that is going to come from your last backups. A full system recovery involves moving a lot of data very quickly back to a server. Something that the cloud is not ideal for. Having that data cached locally means that it does not have to transfer across the internet and recovery windows can be met. Typically recalling older data involves a very specific file or set of files. This means a smaller data size and often there is less pressure to have that data back as fast as possible. This is an ideal use case for the cloud. The appliance as backup's age, only need to keep the most recent copies of the backup data, removing the local copy to make room for more recent backups. The cloud holds all the old backups so they can be picked through when a specific file is needed.

Hybrid cloud backup appliances often come with the software to make these transfers efficient. The software, as you would expect, leverages optimization capabilities like deduplication and compression to help the appliance send minimal data across the WAN segment when updating the cloud repository. A key differentiator with the hybrid cloud backup model is that the software also has agents for the more common database applications and email systems.

Another interesting use of the appliance is leveraging it for other tasks. This includes using it as a NFS/CIFS gateway for file copies to the cloud. It can also in some cases be used to host a virtual image of the servers that it is protecting. Then in the event of a server failure the appliance could temporarily host the fallen server. This is an ideal use of the appliance's capabilities and may be the ideal high availability strategy for an SMB.

In most cases the appliance model is a replacement to your existing backup strategy and its software. Which for the SMB market in particular is not a problem since there is not often a large investment in the backup process to start with. For larger environments there is need to extend the existing strategy, leveraging the backup hardware infrastructure that is already in place even if that means a software change.

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

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