Cloud-based backup: Best strategies and practices
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As end users migrate toward cloud-based IT deployments, there are a number of ways traditional internal IT platforms can be moved to public cloud services. Software as a service has become a major option for many IT organizations that are looking to remove the overhead of delivering a range of standardized IT services such as email, collaboration tools and CRM systems.
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As a migration to software as a service (SaaS) takes place, the onus of managing the underlying infrastructure moves to the SaaS provider, requiring them to deliver assistance based on well-documented service levels and objectives. Typically, this includes a SaaS backup strategy to return a specific service to normal operations. In terms of data management, this simply means restoring from the last backup and rolling forward any journaled or log updates that bring the application to the most current state.
Backups that will be used for historical recovery are not included in the SaaS backup strategy. In fact, if data recovery is required due to the fault of the customer, then SaaS providers will see it as a "value add" service and the cost will increase accordingly. This means IT organizations must put processes into place to cater to restore requirements needed in case of user error, compliance or e-discovery.
There are plenty of tools and services on the market that can be used in an organization's SaaS backup strategy. Building a process for backing up SaaS applications can be provided by any of these tools; however, the overall process for backup, whether on-premises, infrastructure as a service or SaaS, doesn't change.
Questions to ask
When considering a cloud-to-cloud or SaaS backup strategy, administrators should apply the same standards to their backup/restore process as they would to on-premises deployments. They can start by asking themselves the following questions:
- Does the backup/restore process meet the recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) for my customers?
- Do the service-level objectives offered by the backup vendor meet my business requirements?
- What are my RPO/RTO requirements for SaaS applications?
- Do I need to put backup exceptions in place for certain users?
- How can I test backups for recovery (effectively, how can I prove my backups are working)?
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