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‘Seeding and feeding’ for hybrid cloud backup

Tips for using seeding and feeding to reduce the bandwidth costs associated with hybrid cloud backup.

By Arkeia Software.

Hybrid cloud backup is an increasingly popular way for midsized IT environments to get business-critical data offsite yet still be able to recover it quickly. The technology also seems to be an inexpensive alternative to tape — until the expense of bandwidth is factored into the cost equation.

While most users will find they have ample WAN bandwidth to transmit smaller, incremental backups to the cloud, the cost of last-mile bandwidth for large data sets, such as initial full backups, and high monthly fees, can be into the thousands of dollars per month. MSPs and other IT service companies that deliver hybrid cloud backup services often find this to be a major obstacle slowing the adoption of hybrid cloud backup by their mid-market clients.

A simple, reliable, way around this problem is to incorporate ‘seeding and feeding’ into hybrid cloud backup. Seeding and feeding employs any combination of physical media and Internet transport to move backup sets to or from remote cloud storage. In rudimentary cloud seeding, the first full backup is moved offsite on physical media; then subsequent incremental backups are sent over the WAN to cloud storage.

VARs and service providers are seeing that providing physical media to end users upon first backup and on an as-needed basis thereafter, along with overnight shipping of physical media, is an excellent substitute for prohibitively high WAN bandwidth requirements. USB-connected disk drives and/or disk arrays in redundant RAID configurations allow large volumes of data to be reliably transferred in a compact package. A disk array with 10TB of usable capacity, sent via overnight delivery, is comparable to the speed of a 1Gbps WAN connection—but available as-needed, without a large up-front investment, provisioning delays or expensive monthly fees.

Below are further tips for seeding and feeding in hybrid cloud backup environments:

1. Don't begin at the beginning
Even before the first full backup is received at the destination replication server, incremental backups should be sent offsite by wire. This eliminates the inherent vulnerability that occurs when incremental backups are delayed waiting for the initial full backup to be fed to the cloud.

2. Seed and feed when in need
In addition to transporting the first initial full backup, physical media can also be used for feeding: transporting any backup set too large to be replicated conveniently over the WAN. Internet and physical media transfers can be used in any combination, in any sequence.

3. Look both ways
Similarly, data transfers on physical media are helpful when restoring one or multiple backup sets from the cloud to the business site. This is especially true in the case of disaster recovery for an entire LAN.

4. Pick your battles
Not all backup sets have to be replicated to the cloud. Administrators should retain the flexibility to pick and choose based on weighing the cost of cloud bandwidth and cloud storage capacity.

5. Dedupe for the win
Deduplication saves money by reducing storage volume and network bandwidth requirements, while shortening backup windows. Moving backup sets in deduplicated format also accelerates recovery, especially when multiple machines must be recovered quickly.


•Date: 25th Oct 2012 • World •Type: Article • Topic: Cloud computing

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