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Is cloud data backup service right for your organization?

Assessing your organization's challenges, abilities and assets will help to determine if deploying a cloud-based data backup strategy is a better alternative than relying on an

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on-site data backup and recovery strategy. Here's what to consider when trying deciding if cloud backup is right for your organization:

Budget. Do you know what your current costs are for data protection? Have you evaluated staff costs to determine if eliminating any on-premises infrastructure, introducing automation or adopting more-advanced technology, would alleviate issues? A comparison of all capital and operational expenses for on-premises technology over three years vs. the operational expenses for cloud-based backup over three years may yield surprises. For example, for a backup tape strategy, the maintenance fees for on-premises hardware and software, media purchases and storage fees, and operations overhead over three years could pay for three years of a hybrid cloud service.

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Daily capacity of backup data. How much data needs protecting (based on the total capacity of data and the daily change rate)? What's the frequency of backups required to meet recovery objectives? Calculate how much backup data needs to be transferred on a daily basis. And, given the available bandwidth, whether or not the transfer can be accomplished within the backup window.

Data protection gaps. Do you have new directives to improve protection at remote office/branch offices (ROBOs) or with endpoints? Do you have the staff and capital budget to invest in these new initiatives? Do you currently have a disaster recovery (DR) strategy? If yes, do your people, processes and technology allow you to meet recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs)? Leveraging a cloud backup vendor to augment current on-premises data protection processes may be more cost-effective (no upfront capital investment in infrastructure and no additional headcount required) than extending on-premises capabilities.

Infrastructure. Is the current infrastructure limiting your ability to meet the needs of the organization? Have budget constraints limited your ability to keep pace with technology advancements? Were you going to do a technology refresh soon anyway? Organizations without the capital budget to extend or refresh the IT infrastructure to meet data protection needs -- but with a sufficient operational budget -- can fund monthly service fees through their operational budget to improve data protection processes.

Service-level agreements (SLAs) and compliance mandates. Can you successfully complete your backup within the prescribed window of time? Can you recover data to meet agreed-upon timeframes? If not, is the inability related to outdated technology or lack of sufficient operational staff? Can you meet corporate and/or regulatory requirements with your current people, processes and technology? Does your process for maintaining offsite copies introduce any security risks? If you have recovery service level agreements that are more aggressive than what can be delivered by streaming data over your WAN link or physically transported on portable disk (not unlike tape media from offsite storage), cloud-based backup may not be for you. If you don't have the discipline and capabilities to meet compliance objectives, then outsourcing data protection to a vendor that can support compliance efforts may pay off.

Staffing levels and expertise. Has the economic climate impacted your ability to appropriately staff the data protection function? Do your current backup/recovery infrastructure and processes rely too heavily on operational staff? Do you have in-house expertise to properly architect, build and maintain data protection infrastructure and processes to meet objectives now and in the future? An operations staff is often the most costly aspect of data protection, so adding data protection capabilities without necessitating additional staff could be more feasible.

This article originally appeared in Storage magazine.

About this author: Lauren Whitehouse is an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group and covers data protection technologies. Lauren is a 20-plus-year veteran in the software industry, formerly serving in marketing and software development roles.


This was first published in October 2009

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