Converged data protection platforms from the cloud to the ground

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Converged data protection in the cloud provides benefits, challenges

The top converged data protection vendors tackle the public cloud in different ways. There are also some general obstacles to consider when using the technology.

Converged data protection vendors, such as leaders Cohesity and Rubrik, are increasingly emphasizing the ways in which their platforms take advantage of the public cloud. While there is little question that the public cloud can greatly improve an organization's disaster recovery capabilities, data protection in the cloud is not right for all use cases.

Cohesity data protection in the cloud

Cohesity's approach to data protection involves using a physical appliance both as a backup target and as a platform for hosting virtual machines when an instant recovery operation is required.

Cohesity is using the public cloud as a way to overcome the storage limitations that exist within a physical appliance. By allowing customers to expand their storage capacity to the cloud, Cohesity has enabled three very useful capabilities:

  • Policy-based archiving of snapshot data. Even if a snapshot is created on premises, it can be automatically archived to the public cloud, based on a policy set by the administrator. This makes more efficient use of the appliance's built-in storage.
  • Policy-based data tiering. An administrator can configure a policy that will cause cold data to be automatically migrated to public cloud storage, thereby freeing up some of the appliance's native storage capacity. In this way, public cloud storage functions as a true extension to the appliance's built-in storage. If there is ever a request to read data that has been migrated to cloud storage, that data will be retrieved, categorized as hot data and written to the appliance's storage for more efficient access.
  • Allowing the public cloud to be used for disaster recovery (DR) purposes. Cohesity's CloudReplicate feature is able to replicate snapshots from an on-premises Cohesity cluster to a Cohesity cluster running in the cloud. This makes it possible to store a duplicate set of snapshots in the cloud, thereby making cloud-based DR possible.

Rubrik data protection in the cloud

Rubrik is another leader in converged data protection, and the company has recently introduced cloud backup capabilities. Rubrik focuses on providing data protection to native cloud applications.

Rubrik's approach involves creating a backup fabric that spans both the on-premises environment and the public cloud. Standard backup and recovery functionality is available across the entire fabric, as are functions such as replication, search and archiving. While this approach allows for backup data to be replicated to the cloud, it also allows for protection of native cloud apps and data that resides natively in the cloud. Furthermore, Rubrik supports application-consistent backups of cloud instances of Microsoft Exchange Server, SharePoint, SQL Server, Active Directory and Oracle Database.

Converged data protection products, such as those offered by Cohesity and Rubrik, tend to work well for organizations that need to extend data protection in the cloud.

Overall, Rubrik's goal for data protection in the cloud seems to be simplicity. By including public cloud resources into the same backup fabric that serves the organization's on-premises resources, Rubrik can give its customers a single set of tools that are largely location-agnostic. The result is not just centralized management, but data portability.

Rubrik places significant emphasis on policy-based automation within the backup fabric. Custom policies can easily be mapped to an organization's service-level agreements or to its compliance requirements to achieve the required degree of protection.

Be cautious with cloudy skies

There are a number of challenges to using converged data protection in the cloud:

  • Cloud vendor lock-in. Both Rubrik and Cohesity are designed to work with multiple public cloud vendors. However, you will likely run into issues using less popular public clouds. Less established converged data protection vendors may limit users to a single cloud.
  • Bandwidth availability. Limited bandwidth probably won't be an issue for performing cloud-to-cloud backups or data replication across clouds, but it can be an issue when backing up on-premises data to the cloud.
  • Cost. Each cloud service provider has its own pricing model. Generally, cloud storage is leased, not purchased. As such, you can expect to be billed each month for the total number of gigabytes of cloud storage you consume. Depending on the cloud provider, there might also be a cost associated with read and write operations, which means hot data will be billed at a higher rate than cold, static data. You may also be charged for network bandwidth consumed by the backup process.

Converged data protection products, such as those offered by Cohesity and Rubrik, tend to work well for organizations that need to extend data protection in the cloud. At the same time, issues such as vendor lock-in, cost and the impact on the organization's available bandwidth must be considered prior to implementation.

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