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Multi-cloud data backup: Choices and challenges

With many organizations putting data in more than one cloud, multi-cloud backup has become an important element of protection. Organizations should tread carefully.

Many vendors are now touting the latest must-have multi-cloud data backup support.

It is quite simple to have local and globally available resiliency within a cloud of choice. However, the ability to fail over is most often controlled by the cloud provider and is designed for data center-level disaster recovery events, not customer DR events, such as application failure or corrupted disks.

As is often said, DR is not backup. No matter what a business does, it cannot leave the backup to chance with a cloud vendor.

Choices for multi-cloud backup

Ensuring sufficient multi-cloud data backup is more of a business process than a technological one. However, the more complex the environment, the more difficult the job becomes -- before even thinking about which cloud vendor to use. Also, the more cloud providers used, the more complex service-level agreement (SLA) management becomes. Not all SLAs are created equal.

There is no single best provider. What is important is that your potential multi-cloud data protection integrates with not only your current cloud providers but those you may be using in the future.

The field of multi-cloud data backup is frequently changing, but some of the best-in-breed vendors include:

  • Zerto: Simple to use, ideal for smaller environments;
  • Veeam: Similar capabilities to Zerto, supports additional cloud providers beyond Microsoft and AWS, has an easy road to quick implementation because of its simplicity; and
  • Veritas: Ideal for larger companies that want to support more complex setups and a larger group of vendors, coming at a cost of increased complexity and management.

Challenges with multi-cloud backup

Do your due diligence, know your requirements and be careful when selecting a multi-cloud data backup vendor.

Compliance is an issue with multi-cloud data backup. A business cannot and should not just throw a backup into the cheapest cloud available. Some businesses have to prove compliance -- for example with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Being a specialized area, it is key to sort out compliance before any data is put anywhere near the cloud vendor of choice.

It should go without saying that any agreement should be in written form and looked over by someone who understands the ramifications, such as someone in legal. Any company that has compliance requirements needs to choose carefully where it puts data.

Be careful about the restrictions in resources that can be consumed. Some backup products, for example, use S3 to store backups in an inexpensive way, but converting those to executable virtual machines (VMs) is not a quick process. It can take tens of minutes to perform this task because of limitations placed on the speed with which VMs can be imported. There is no way around it. There can be limitations on various cloud providers. Check for such issues before signing up.

Administration can also be a challenging issue. An administrator who uses several different cloud vendors must have knowledge beyond just the backup application and needs to fundamentally understand how to manage and use the cloud in question.

Choosing the provider, however, is only one part of the issue. With an ever-changing field of applications within your cloud environments, it is all too easy for items to fall through the cracks. If a business has 30 to 40 applications on each cloud environment that will require active management, it is imperative to check that all these systems are backed up.

In the end, do your due diligence, know your requirements and be careful when selecting a multi-cloud data backup vendor.

This was last published in June 2018

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