All businesses were already using cloud computing in one way or another when the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly accelerated the migration of additional workloads to the public cloud. There are several reasons for this. From a technical standpoint, the flexibility and agility provided by the cloud cannot be matched by an on-premises infrastructure, while the OpEx model allows organizations to adjust budgeting in real time to match actual demands of the business. the company.

At first, most organizations that have tried lift-and-shift migrations realized that this approach is particularly inefficient, forcing them to rely more on services directly available in the public cloud. In fact, to take full advantage of the public cloud and its total cost of ownership, you need to fully embrace the ecosystem.

If you’re on AWS and need a database service, for example, you can skip all the complexity of building the entire stack of basic EC2 instances, purchasing DB licenses. , the installation of the database, its configuration for high availability, its tuning and maintenance. . Instead, you’re just using AWS RDS, which is not only easier to use and manage, but more optimized and offers a much lower total cost of ownership than a DIY solution. This is clearly the right approach, but there is a catch: data protection.

Protect applications and data in the cloud

Most backup solutions were designed before the cloud. They can handle physical and virtualized environments very well, but struggle with cloud services. There are several reasons for this, including architectural issues with many products. Usually we have a backup server, media servers, agents installed on each machine, and connectors for virtualized environments. In this scenario, applications such as databases are managed with specific integrations or additional agents. This type of architecture, whether installed on-premises or in the cloud, is particularly inefficient and becomes increasingly expensive and inefficient over time, overwhelming early savings.

A traditional backup product typically uses an agent installed on a cloud virtual machine (an AWS EC2 instance, for example) to make backup copies. The user finds a very familiar environment to use, but:

  • Most backup servers still use file volumes to store backups, and they can only use object storage later for long-term storage, which adds complexity and costs.
  • If the backup target is outside of the cloud of their choice (on-premises, for example), the user will incur exit charges which, again, will add unforeseen and unpredictable costs in the long run.
  • Backup times are quite long and restores can take even longer, with unappealing RTO and RPO numbers.

This approach has its advantages, including the ability to index and search for backups, perform partial restores, and properly manage retention,

Some solutions take a different approach and wrap around the standard snapshot API available on the cloud platform. In most cases, we are talking about a nice user interface to what is usually done via API or CLI. It works, but it doesn’t scale, and over time it can be difficult to find the right snapshot to restore and decide what to keep and what to delete. We can enjoy faster recovery time, but there are risks that impact costs, efficiency, and operations in general. Additionally, snapshots are typically stored locally near the storage system and therefore are not disaster resistant.

The third option: rely on a solution specially designed for cloud operations. This approach generally offers the best of both worlds while minimizing costs and risks. The process is simple: the backup software takes a snapshot, then performs the necessary operations to index it and efficiently store it in a different location. This allows the user to create consistent data protection policies and gain full visibility into what and how is actually protected. The user can also search for backups to quickly find data to recover, and can also organize the schedule and even create the necessary air space to protect the apps from worst case scenarios. Table 1 shows how these three options stack up.

Table 1. Assessment of cloud data protection approaches

An example can be found in a recently launched product by Clumio: Discover. This product does more than just native cloud backup. In fact, it combines the snapshot mechanism of AWS services with its own and integrates the two to provide the user with a seamless experience and the best overall TCO.

The solution is smart in that it offers the ability to manage AWS snapshots, regardless of the backup solution used, including AWS Backup, through the Clumio dashboard. This gives full visibility into protected compute and storage instances while adding the ability to use Clumio’s advanced backup capabilities, via Clumio Protect, to enable indexing, searching, file-level restores, etc. Clumio stores data in different places, creating the air space necessary to protect the data in the event of major system crashes, disasters or cyber attacks. One of the features I liked most about Clumio Discover is analytics, specifically the cost control features that allow users to simulate combinations of native AWS snapshot policies associated with Clumio advanced backups over time. time.

Close the circle

Traditional data protection doesn’t work in the cloud. From a cloud provider’s perspective, snapshots are more than enough for business continuity. If you want to protect your critical data and applications, you need to find a solution specifically designed to work effectively in the cloud.

Efficiency in this case also means lower cost and operational scalability. In fact, traditional backup solutions aren’t designed to cope with the speed of change in the cloud, when snapshots alone are really time consuming for system operators. The latter also creates cost issues related to snapshot orphans, retention management, replication, and recovery times for single files. These are all aspects of snapshot management that are often underestimated.

Keeping control of your data in the cloud is fundamental, but it’s even more important to do it with the right tools that reduce costs while simplifying operations. In this scenario, products like Clumio Discover strike a compelling balance of usability, integration with the cloud platform, and cost control features that are the foundation of a modern and sustainable cloud strategy.

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