IT disaster recovery, cloud computing and information security news

Exploring risks associated with cloud backups

Cloud backup has been absorbed into the disaster recovery plans of many organizations; and while much has been written about its benefits, there are also potential difficulties that organizations should be aware of. Phillip de Bruyn takes a closer look.

From a backup perspective, the cloud essentially provides an extension to more traditional methods such as tapes and disks. With so many companies embracing a virtualized environment, the advantage of having organizational data available at an offsite location through cloud backup compliments this effectively. But using the cloud does not necessarily mean company data is more accessible or even meets legal requirements. So while there is a clear temptation to embrace the cloud for every aspect of business, decision-makers need to get a better understanding of how this is impacting on compliance requirements and how they use data before rushing in.

Companies need to be mindful that how they use the cloud for backup has a direct impact on the level of availability and compliancy required.

Some businesses use the cloud as a way of providing an alternative location for company data. Others who have already migrated everything to the cloud, rely on an additional hosted solution for disaster recovery and business continuity reasons. However, there is a lot more to business continuity than just the data itself. The real-time nature of business in the digital world means that companies cannot afford to use providers that are too slow or do not perform according to certain service level agreements (SLAs).

The biggest mistake any organization can make is to assume that SLAs cover data and its availability: in the 24x7x365 business cycle, no company can have the luxury of not having access to their critical back-end data. While certain data selections might not necessarily fall under the scope of high availability, others do: and not being able to have those cloud backups restored within minutes might cause the organization considerable reputational and financial loss.

In extreme cases, companies might never recover from this and be forced to close down. One of the most difficult things to get right is for the business and the cloud backup provider to agree on how its data is valued and what steps can be taken in the event of a failure to restore files within the agreed-upon parameters.

Small to medium enterprises are leading the charge when it comes to cloud backups. These business owners realise what is possible and the cloud provides them the peace of mind they need to remain focused on meeting strategic company objectives.

Not too long ago, effective disaster recovery was not possible from a cost-perspective for these smaller businesses. The cloud has changed that. Now the mobility and flexibility the cloud provides means data can be analysed and benefited from wherever there is cellular or WiFi reception.

Using cloud backup solutions in a time where data forms the DNA of any business, requires a considered approach. It definitely provides a backup alternative to the offline copies of old. Yet, the business needs to evaluate exactly how it matches requirements for efficiency and availability.

The author

Phillip de Bruyn is customer experience manager at Redstor.

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