We get asked all the time about cloud services. This makes perfect sense because as IT experts we should be able to advise our clients about the advantages and disadvantages of the cloud. And with our own IT services being delivered to our clients from the cloud, I’d say we’re pretty familiar the technology! We like cloud services.
But one area where I always advise decision makers to be careful is with cloud based backup for disaster recovery. On the surface it sounds great; no costly hardware or software to purchase, it’s quickly scalable, and the entry cost is modest. But because of a couple real gotcha’s with cloud backups, we only recommend it as a secondary disaster recovery solution. Why? There are 2 reasons (other than security which is a topic unto itself).
First, when you have your data in the cloud, it typically got there over the course of many days or weeks. The Internet is still hundreds of times slower than local storage so it took a while to get it all to wherever it’s stored. So if you want it all back – right now – your fastest solution for terabytes of data will probably be getting a series of tapes by mail. Oops – this means at least 12 hours for Fed Ex (unless you can drive there) and now you need that tape drive after all to perform the restore. Maybe as much as a couple of days IF you have the replacement hardware and that tape drive all ready to go.
Second, many cloud-based backup solutions – especially the low priced products – don’t actually backup databases and system images. Sure they get copies of individual files like Word documents, but if you use a local email system, have a local accounting package, or run a local CRM solution, you have a database which will likely not get backed up. So you had better be doing something else. And then in the event of a disaster, you will need to 1) obtain replacement hardware, 2) reinstall the OS and applications – hope you have the original media and license codes!, and 3) restore local copies of the databases needed, and finally 4) restore the files from the cloud backup service. This could take weeks depending upon the volume of data.
What’s the solution? We recommend ensuring that you have a full featured local backup that includes everything and that you implement some sort of disaster recovery solution like off-site rotation of media or our SafeGuard service.