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Why Does the Cloud Need to Be the Center of Your Hybrid Backup World?

When it comes to backup, lead with the cloud and you’ll reap infinite scalability rewards.

For most companies, the on-premise appliance sits firmly rooted at the center of their backup world--making disc-to-disc (D2D) the preferred data protection method for backup and recovery of critical data, servers and applications. While D2D isn’t a perfect solution--often characterized by its high cost, capacity planning challenges and finite storage constraints--it’s tested, trusted and reliable. 

With the cloud becoming more broadly adopted, many companies are considering cloud backup as a viable option for their disaster recovery (DR) strategy.  Who doesn’t want lower costs and increased efficiency?

Heeding the call, the backup industry, which has always let the appliance drive its product vision, introduced hybrid backup appliances to the market. These appliances, designed to deliver cost savings, act as your local D2D backup. The cloud becomes your replication repository.

New Approach.  Same Storage Limit Woes?

The problem with the current offering of hybrid backup appliances is that they continue to place the appliance at the center of your backup world. And the cloud? Sidelined, so that cost savings and efficiency gains can never be fully realized. 

The question becomes: How can companies capitalize on cloud cost savings when the hybrid appliance has a finite amount of storage and tethers the cloud to this limit? For example, buying a 2TB appliance means the most you can backup to the cloud is 2TB. Once you hit the appliance maximum, you can’t backup any more data to the cloud. 

By holding the power of the cloud hostage, your company gets boxed in by finite capacity constraints--leaving you with a traditional purpose-built backup appliance. This puts a premium and a fair amount of risk on correctly sizing the appliance so it fits your needs today and tomorrow, making these scenarios all too familiar:

  1. Using the 2X-sizing paradigm, you estimate your data storage needs at 5TB, so you buy a 10TB purpose-built appliance. Fast-forward six months, and due to data growth, you’ve filled it. So you’re either going to upgrade to a bigger appliance, buy a new one or remove data. And this cycle will continue to repeat. 
  2. The opposite is also true. You buy the 10TB purpose-built appliance, and it takes two years to fill because your data growth isn’t as fast as originally envisioned. You overbought and paid a large upfront cost that sits underutilized for months.

Both of these result in a lose-lose, reflecting a need for a third backup option. Purpose-built backup appliances no longer fit the data protection needs of businesses today. Breaking this cycle means making the cloud the center of your backup world.

So, how do you make the cloud the center of your backup world?

Good question.  Glad you asked.  Lead with the cloud, and you’ll reap infinite scalability rewards. When considering a hybrid cloud backup approach, this requirement should be top of mind: built-in cloud spillover.

Your hybrid cloud backup appliance should have built-in cloud spillover (think cloud storage gateway technology), which automatically streams data from your on-premise device to the cloud, and grows per your own data retention rules. Having the ability to determine what stays local while enabling a “bottomless cloud” backup model (because everything is streaming there) is the catalyst that makes the cloud the center of your backup world.

Transforming the appliance into an extension of the cloud accomplishes three things:

  1. It decouples cloud storage capacity from the appliance’s finite storage limits.
  2. It allows you to buy a smaller device because the data’s ultimate home is in the cloud, not the appliance.
  3. When you need more storage, you can buy more cloud, not another appliance.

Key Takeaways

Pivoting out of an "appliance first, cloud second" mentality to backup isn’t easy. Most hardware-centric backup vendors view the backup appliance as the center of backup storage, and so the idea of a backup appliance that doesn’t keep all of the backups is counter-intuitive to them. Furthermore, to do so would mean selling smaller appliances, and cannibalizing their own revenues.

Ask yourself this: Why should you settle for a large backup appliance with slow cloud replication at twice the cost, only to outgrow it in a few years? When you view the cloud as the center of backup storage, it’s logical to see an on-premise hardware device as an extension of the cloud, rather than as a product onto itself. Architecting your hybrid cloud backup model using this lens puts your company in a better position to reap the monetary savings and efficiency gains from the cloud.

Ken Garcia is the director of content marketing at Infrascale. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly and are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.

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