This article, published on July 28, 2022, was written by Jerome M. Wendt, president and founder, DCIG, LLC.
More organizations than ever host their production workloads and data with general-purpose cloud providers with many choosing AWS, at least to start. However, as organizations go to protect these workloads and data, they uncover a new reality. Their cloud backup software needs differ significantly when compared to selecting an on-premises backup offering. This requires they select offerings that match these needs.
Organizational demand for cloud offerings delivered as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) has grown from 30-40% for multiple years. This growth has led to IaaS cloud providers being valued at $120 billion in 2022.
Among these providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) leads in enterprise adoption with 33% market share. While significant, other cloud providers also own significant percentages of the IaaS marketplace.
These percentages indicate that most organizations will remain with or only use one cloud provider indefinitely. While they may start with one, they may eventually use multiple cloud providers. Alternatively, they may spread their workloads and data between the cloud and on-premises to create a hybrid environment.
Then, regardless of which cloud they initially select, they may adopt it in one or more ways. Each approach creates unique management challenges. For instance, designing and implementing cloud-native applications creates its own set of administration requirements. Lifting-and-shifting existing applications, data, and workloads from on-premises to the cloud creates a different set of administrative requirements.
Variances in Cloud Backup Capabilities
Then once in the cloud, organizations must protect and recover their cloud-hosted workloads and data. This creates yet another decision point. Organizations may want to use cloud-native backup tools because they assume they work well for workloads and data hosted in the cloud. However, these tools vary – a lot.
Some leave workloads and data lifted-and-shifted to the cloud poorly or unprotected. These tools primarily focus on protecting on applications and workloads that were created in the cloud.
Conversely, using backup software originally designed for on-premises data protection has its own set of challenges once deployed in the cloud. It rarely excels at protecting data stored in any cloud native database applications or on the cloud provider’s virtual machines. They may not yet support the cloud provider’s APIs to create snapshots or store backups on its object storage offering.
Prerequisites for Holistic Cloud Backup
Organizations need a backup solution that protects their applications, data, and workloads regardless of the cloud in which they host them. In a perfect world, they want a robust backup solution. It will protect applications, data, and workloads regardless of where they reside: on-premises or in any cloud.
To meet these broader demands, the solution will ideally satisfy the following requirements across all environments:
• Be delivered as a SaaS offering. SaaS offerings relieve organization of the need to implement and maintain the backup software. The SaaS offering automatically scales cloud capacity and performance in accordance with enterprise backup needs.
• Integrated into the cloud provider’s management console. Cloud administrators often manage backup as any other cloud task – through the cloud provider’s management console. Offering the backup software as part of cloud management console creates a single pane of glass to manage the cloud environment. It also minimizes or eliminates the time needed to learn a specific backup console.
• Protects against ransomware. It will store all backups in a secure, immutable format on air-gapped storage media.
• Efficiently store backups. Compressing and de-dupe helps control cloud storage costs. However, it must simultaneously store backups on the appropriate cloud storage tier in any region to meet specific RPO and RTO.
AWS-Specific Backup Requirements
Moving to the cloud dictates organizations identify a backup offering tuned for cloud providers in general. Then, assuming they know the cloud they plan to utilize, they should also identify offerings tuned for that cloud.
Since AWS is a more mature cloud provider, it provides good examples of options a cloud backup solution should possess.
• Available through the AWS marketplace. Organizations may immediately get started with backup by simply subscribing to the offering. In many cases, they may start performing backup minutes after they subscribe.
• Using AWS IAM. The backup software inherits all AWS multi-tenancy attributes available through AWS IAM and Resource Groups.
• Leveraging AWS APIs to perform agentless snapshot-based backups. Using AWS’ APIs the backup software may create non-disruptive backups for any guest OS natively available on an EC2 AMI.
While these three are AWS-specific, a cloud backup solution should provide similar features in each cloud for which it offers data protection.
Holistic Cloud Backup Recommendations for 2022
AWS already has 33%t of the IaaS market. However, a growing number of organizations only plan to start with AWS then potentially adopt Azure, GCP, and others. Further, more if not all organizations plan to continue hosting workloads and data on-premises in a private cloud they create.
These needs dictate that organizations select backup software built upon general cloud design principles that works across multiple clouds.
This software must simultaneously integrate with the specific features found in each cloud to deliver:
• A hassle-free backup experience with no upfront cost and minimal-to-no time to set up, implement, and manage.
• A cost-effective, viable disaster DR offering in any cloud they select
• The flexibility to use the offering on-premises, in any clouds, multiple clouds, or in a hybrid environment that delivers the same management experience.
Of the offerings currently available in the market, DCIG in 2022 views Cobalt Iron, HYCU, Metallic by Commvault, and Cohesity as offerings that best align with these broad cloud backup requirements.