Get Your Head Out of the Cloud Part 2: Cloud Backup vs. Local Backup

September 8, 2011 – Does data backup to the Cloud make sense and is it technically feasible? Consider these two important factors:

(1) How much data must be saved each day or night and

(2) What type of Internet connection is available?

Example: You have 20GB of modified or new data per day. Your uploading speed is 8 Mbit/sec (1 MB/sec).

You will need approximately six hours for the transfer of your data. Because the backup would overload the Internet connection during the day, the backup process should only be active in the nighttime. If the backup takes too long, the upload speed has to be increased by upgrading your bandwidth. For planning purposes, it would be necessary to obtain guaranteed transfer rates from your provider. But guaranteed bandwidth between two points is rarely possible, except perhaps at considerable expense and typically only in some major metropolitan areas.

When handling large data files such as pictures, videos or music, it is important to take into consideration that data compression and byte differences cannot be used, because the data has already been compressed.

Even if backing up data to the Cloud presents no problems, it does not always economically make sense. There can be numerous disadvantages and limitations when compared to a local backup.

Costs

  • Cloud backup can represent potential savings if you can use your already existing Internet infrastructure at night, when it is not in use for other business purposes.
  • If the upload speed of your existing connection is not sufficient, additional costs for a more powerful connection must be added to the calculation.
  • Charges for the backup provider and/or storage space will also add to the cost.

Availability and Dependability

  • A dependable connection is critical to uncorrupted data backup. Typically, a large-scale data backup requires your system’s complete infrastructure for quite some time.
  • Another important consideration is how long you can afford to wait to restore your data in case of an emergency. The disaster recovery of a complete hard disc can take days via Internet.

Safety and Security

  • How does the backup provider guarantee the safety of your data? Are there several redundant copies at various locations?
  • How is your data protected from unauthorized access by third parties? Is the data merely encrypted, or are there additional safety measures in place? Is your company permitted to store data off-site?
  • What happens to your data in case of termination of the service, and how is the restitution of important data provided for?

One effective method of evaluating the quality of the backup provider’s service is to ask for internationally recognized certifications such as SAS 70, Type 2 or ISO 27001. These certificates include IT services ranging from infrastructure to the running of the system, its applications and the production of the software as well as monitoring, reporting and management of emergency- and business-continuity. This will at least provide some guarantee of the performance promised. (As noted earlier, this does not include a guarantee for the quality of the Internet connection between the backup provider und your company.)

Summary: Depending on your requirements and the amount of data, the costs for basic professional Cloud services can quickly add up. If you plan to transfer entire business groups to the Cloud, the costs will multiply accordingly.

Next up:  Get Your Head Out of the Cloud Part 3: Final Words on the Cloud