The well-known 3-2-1 rule for backup requires at least one copy reside offsite. Complying with this rule typically used to require hiring a service to haul tape away on a truck to a distant storage facility.
But with the cloud, things have gotten much easier — simply point your backup systems to storage space in Amazon S3, Azure Blob Storage or any of the other storage clouds, and you’re done! Right?
Copying backup files to the cloud is easy, because backup is easy. Unfortunately, recovery is hard. And if you’re going beyond backup to do disaster recovery (DR) in the cloud, that’s even harder. Let’s break it down.
The complexity of cloud backup
Getting your backups to the cloud is just the first and easiest step, but the format in which it’s stored could pose problems when it comes time to recover. The cloud uses object storage to deliver incredible scalability and stability, but it’s a fairly slow medium when it comes to recovery, especially when you’re dealing with deduped, compressed backup files that require a lot of processing to “rehydrate.”
That’s not likely a problem if you’re recovering individual items like a few accidentally deleted emails or a corrupted spreadsheet. But if you lost an entire server or, knock on wood, an entire server room, recovery from the cloud gets complicated fast. In addition to slow recovery, here are just a few of the additional challenges you’re likely to face:
- Costly egress fees: Hyperscale cloud storage providers make it cheap and simple to upload data to their service, but any time you want to retrieve it, you’ll pay dearly for the privilege. This can lead to a very unpleasant surprise in your monthly bill if you have to recover a lot of data.
- The missing recovery target: If the original server is dead or your data center is flooded, to where will you recover your application and data? If you want to recover to the cloud, that’s going to require a great deal of specialized expertise to mount your virtual machines (VMs) and provide your end-users with access, as cloud networking is a very different beast from the standard model used on on-premises.
- Lack of human support: Finally, if you run into issues while attempting to recover, you’re going to be on your own. Good luck getting hold of a human being to help you troubleshoot and address the problems you’ve encountered.
Cloud-based DR — expect even more complexity
If doing cloud-based backup on your own sounds hairy, cloud-based DR brings the complexity to a whole other level. If you’re virtualized, as most modern organizations are, you’ll need to know how to mount them in a cloud-based environment, which is no simple matter.
Similarly, establishing networking and access require specialized cloud skills that only the largest organizations likely possess, given how expensive and highly sought people with this skill set are. In fact, according to a study by LinkedIn, cloud computing was the No. 1 technology skill sought by employers in 2019. So even if you’re able to get someone in your organization trained on AWS or Azure, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep them for very long — a larger organization with deeper pockets will undoubtedly snap them up within a year.
But DR, itself, is already plenty complex, even without adding cloud into the mix. Designing, building and executing a DR plan requires careful sequencing, networking and storage expertise. If they’ve done so at all, most IT professionals have never overseen a DR failover.
Would you turn over a vital function to someone who had no experience actually running it?
Cloud backup and DR with a trusted partner
So while the cloud provides an easy way to check off a box on your data protection checklist, without the help of experts, that isn’t going to do you any good at all if you’re unable to recover your data in a useable form.
Here at OffsiteDataSync, managing backup and DR is our day-to-day work. Where an IT pro may have done, at most, one DR failover in their entire career, we do it for our clients multiple times each month. And when it comes to recovering large amounts of data, that happens multiple times a day. You won’t be surprised by egress fees, and if there are problems, you can be sure you’ll have a team of experts working on it who will stay in close communication.
After all, despite the old adage, when you want something done right, it’s not always best to do it yourself. It’s usually best to turn to the experts.
Want to learn more about how OffsiteDataSync can help you ensure backup and DR work is exactly as you expect?