Businesses choose to store their data in the cloud for its stability and low cost. However, using the cloud is not without risks. That’s why you should consider cloud-to-cloud, aka cloud-to-cloud, backup.
Certainly, cloud infrastructure providers are investing in higher standards of security, redundancy hardware, and business continuity than most companies. And for good reason: the reliability of the service is crucial to its success.
However, cloud service providers are not immune to outages or cyberattacks. And SaaS infrastructure, platform, and software cloud services typically only protect their own data and infrastructure. They do not back up or recover the customer’s company files, databases or virtual machines unless the customer has specifically purchased these services.
So, if companies want full backup and recovery for their infrastructure and cloud applications, they need to set it up separately.
What is cloud-to-cloud backup, and why is it needed?
Cloud service providers secure their own systems and data as part of their own business continuity plan. However, their direct customer data support is limited.
Some cloud service users mistakenly believe that the cloud offers backup and data protection. It’s more accurate to say that the cloud provides stability and reliability – levels of reliability and usability can exceed what companies can build on their own. But they have not become the standard in the granular backup and recovery services that businesses need to recover lost files or restore applications.
“Look at service level agreements (SLAs) to find out what the cloud service provider actually guarantees,” insists Tony Lock of research firm Freeform Dynamics. “It does not say that they guarantee that your data will not have problems. They will try to protect their entire system, but they will not look at your particular data.»
Of course, IT teams can make local backups of files located in the cloud to store them on the site. And software-as-a-service offerings like Microsoft 365 work with tools like OneDrive to provide at least basic protection if configured correctly. But they don’t provide everything businesses need in stability.
There is now a growing market for cloud-to-cloud backup services, with options from simple and DIY to comprehensive backup plans capable of handling terabytes of data across multiple clouds.
Cloud-to-cloud backup services work by copying data already in the cloud to a storage service, as well as to the cloud.
There is already a solid market for backing up on-premises data to the cloud, with backup and archiving being one of the main use cases for cloud storage.
Cloud storage and backup tools vendors are expanding this market with tools and services that directly copy customer data to a secondary location in the cloud. Most do this seamlessly, with the ability to select one or more cloud storage services as the backup target.
Of course, IT teams can design and run their own cloud-to-cloud backup, using scripts and tasks. cron.
“CIOs build their own services, just like they do for their local data center, but for data hosted in a cloud,” Tony Lock explains. “The goal is to put this data in another cloud. This other cloud may be in a different geographical region. It’s not necessarily a matter of making a backup copy. It may be resolving latency issues, or you do not want to put all your eggs in one basket. »
According to Tony Lock, the advantage of doing cloud-to-cloud duplication tasks yourself is to be able to program granular or massive transfers according to internal company goals.
However, using a turnkey service has the advantage of treating data transfers on -premises and in the cloud in the same way. In addition, they make it possible to conduct upstream tests to assess the economic and functional relevance of a transition.
Cloud-to-cloud backups should have another advantage: speed. Since the data is already in the cloud, there is no need to search for physical media and retrieve it. Additionally, the backup provider will be able to restore data to a production cloud environment, and even begin the process of creating new backups at a separate instance, or with a different provider.
IT teams can run the entire process from a single interface, so in the worst case scenario they should be able to restore services with nothing but a laptop and an internet connection.
The limitations of cloud-to-cloud backup
However, cloud-to-cloud backup can be costly and complicated, especially for multi-cloud deployments.
The most important cost associated with cloud backups are data export fees, which are charged when data is retrieved from a cloud storage location. For “cold” storage, that is, storage that is rarely used, this cost is manageable. But costs are increasing very rapidly when it comes to recovering an entire production environment, possibly from multiple clouds.
“Pay attention to the fine print on service contracts. When storage costs are low, procurement costs are often very high ”, commented Tony Lock.
There is also a cost to the environment in which the data is retrieved. If a company needs to recover cloud data from another provider-for example in the unlikely event that the first cloud fails-it will have to pay for new opportunities of computing and network resources, as well as storage. These costs may be lower than on-premises hardware and cloud services will certainly be faster to set up, but it must be planned.
Companies should also plan to upgrade their backup and recovery tools, or possibly migrate to a new tool if their current solution does not support cloud-to-cloud backup.
And in the case of recovery in a separate cloud, the speed of network connections can be an issue. CIOs should evaluate whether they can meet their recovery time objectives (RTOs).
Regulation and compliance
Done with caution, cloud-to-cloud backup should not raise regulatory issues other than those applicable to the production environment.
However, organizations will need to ensure that the backup target meets the security and compliance requirements associated with the original data. The same goes for the recovery environment. PCI-DSS data, for example, will require the following backups. And data covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) must be stored in an appropriate physical location.
This is another reason to choose a special cloud-to-cloud backup tool. They are intended to perform granular backup and recovery control, taking into account regulations according to geographical area.
Cloud-to-cloud backup provider
Some backup providers now offer cloud-to-cloud services. These include Acronis, Asigra, Barracuda, Cohesity, Commvault, Datto (which now owns Backupify), Druva, Veritas, and Veeam.
AWS, Azure, and GCP also offer backup technologies that can be configured to work on a cloud-to-cloud basis, but often within their own infrastructure.