How to Choose the Right Data Protection Strategy

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Dave Packer


The public cloud is an easy way to store a large volume of data, which makes it an ideal backup and data protection fit for most organizations. In fact, a leading analyst firm predicts that 62 percent of organizations will deploy applications and services to the public cloud by the end of 2017, many of which will be focused on data storage and protection.

However, disk-based data center storage options can be an inexpensive and convenient solution as well. While the value of data protection is clear, the clarity on the choices available to enterprises isn’t. Here’s a deep dive on data protection solutions and how they fit unique needs:

1. On-Premises (Private Cloud)

With data protection hosted on-premises in a pure private cloud, you operate a secondary data center for the express purpose of backing up business data.

Pros: You own it, you control it, and you can configure it and upgrade it however you want. If you are handling extremely sensitive data, this may be a compelling alternative, but make no mistake, any machine that accepts connections from the outside world is vulnerable.

Cons: Unfortunately, there are many cons with using on-premises storage for data protection. First, hardware constraints limit  storage space and computing availability. Second, data is hosted in one location so power outages or hardware failures can cripple business and result in lost data. Finally, compliance and security has become increasingly important in the new regulatory and threat landscapes. Consistently maintaining the security patching and upgrade schedules necessary to address constant vulnerabilities takes dedicated resources.

2. Cloud Gateway (Hybrid Cloud)

A cloud gateway is a hardware- or software-based appliance that links on-site systems with cloud storage solutions. It provides the basic translation and connectivity required to access incompatible systems, allowing data to be backed up to the cloud.

Pros: With backup data is stored in a remote location, this option relieves the fear that you could lose data if any of your on-premises hardware fails. In addition, you’re not responsible for the maintenance and upgrading of remote hardware, only the appliance that lives within your data center.

Cons: All data going to the cloud and coming from it has to hit the appliance, and you need an appliance for every site. In this model the cloud is treated as if it were a tape drive, which can drive up cloud storage costs due to inefficient storage.

3. Hosted Solution (Cloud Co-lo)

With this model, you buy or license an application and storage, which is then hosted in the vendor’s remote location or in a cloud platform that you control.

Pros: With a hosted appliance or software solution, you have the familiarity that comes with understanding your own environment, reducing the learning curve for administrators and IT staff. This model also places increased responsibility on the hosting vendor to ensure that power outages and other disasters do not become a factor.

Cons: The hosted solution isn’t natively architected to take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of a public cloud environment. Solutions like these can be both expensive to build and manage, because you’re on the hook for storage costs and could also be exposing yourself to other cloud providers fees for other compute and networking resources. As with the on-premises model, you’re responsible for ensuring that you have the computing power to run applications and the headroom to account for any spikes in demand or growth.

Any model that 'loses connectivity' makes the service unavailable. The main issue with hosted has to do with capacity allocation -- it isn’t dynamic. As such, it incurs all the overhead of a traditional on-premises system, including needed downtime to expand the system. As well, hosted services are typically single-tenant, instead of multi-tenant, which means that the operating vendor has to be update or patch each individual instance -- which means a greater chance of error and complexity in rollback. Lastly, vendors who operate hosted environments typically have access to them, meaning data security and access to service connections are a real concern.

4. Cloud-Native (SaaS)

A true cloud-native SaaS data protection solution is designed from the ground up to take advantage of the public cloud, including global deduplication, auto-tiered and dynamically allocatable storage, uptime guarantees and flexible computing availability.

Pros: This final service option, built natively for existing public cloud service providers (e.g., AWS), creates a well-integrated offering from the start. When more or less capacity is needed, the cloud scales up and down to meet the changing demands of business without complex, cumbersome and costly hardware and software procurement cycles or service interruption. And, because it does not require a translation layer between older deployments and a cloud-like gateway appliance, it eliminates bottlenecks, boosting performance and uptime.

With a pure cloud-native SaaS solution, there is no need for additional resources to maintain adherence to regulatory requirements or to perform the constant maintenance required to combat security threats. Instead, all of this burden shifts to the SaaS vendor.

Most importantly, the predictable subscription cost structure removes complex expenses of other models. Instead, it uses a simple model where you only pay for what you need.

Cons: The biggest concern would be losing Internet connectivity, which would render you temporarily unable to access applications. But, with so much of today’s business conducted online, the impact of this on your overall operation would be minor. Most other concerns, such as the failure of an entire electricity grid (for example), are easily addressed by leveraging multiple availability zones.

The Big Takeaway

Any solution that involves leveraging your hardware will come with the same constraints that you find when operating your own data center. In addition, hybrid or hosted solutions fall short of delivering the full benefits that the cloud can provide. As the public cloud matures and becomes an ever brighter fixture in the IT firmament, companies would be wise to consider the significant advantages of a cloud-native SaaS solution.

About the author: Dave Packer is VP, Product and Alliance Marketing, Druva. He has more than 20 years of experience influencing products in the enterprise technology space, primarily focused on information management and governance. At Druva, Dave heads Corporate and Product Marketing, which serves an integral role leading product definition and direction.

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