The Other Side of Cloud Backup by Aravindan Anandan, Consulting System Engineer, Asia Pacific, Barracuda Networks
Think of cloud backup and most people usually think of backing up on premise data TO the cloud. In my last blog I explained how this kind of cloud backup needs planning and consideration if it is to bed one right.
However there is another side to cloud backup that the vast majority of people seem to forget about. Specifically its about backup up that data you have in your cloud.
We often run consultation sessions and technical workshops where we assist IT managers with their total Data Protection strategy, unsurprisingly cloud features heavily in this sessions.
My colleagues and I often find ourselves in a constant cycle of education having to explain to people why their cloud productivity applications need to have third party backup and data protection technology configured to protect their associated data.
There are two critical issues here, arguably the most important is the legal obligation of your SaaS provider. What legal obligation do they have a regards to protecting your data. Often times the small print in your contract with your SaaS provider means that their legal obligation is actually very low. That said many reputable SaaS providers actually put stronger data protection in place than their contracts tie them to. That's a good thing.
From my perspective I spend more time looking at the technical detail around how exactly does the SaaS provider safeguard your data. Again it is surprising that the majority of people I speak to actually do not have a clear understanding of exactly what technology is in place to protect their data. They make the dangerous assumption that the SaaS company has it covered.
My advice is to ask a few questions. Examples would include.
How often are backups run? In other words how much data could I lose?
How long are backups retained for? How many versions of each file are retained?
If your service goes down, How do I get to my data?
In the event I accidentally delete data, can I get it back?
Can you make any guarantees on how fast I can recover my data?
In many cases it is difficult to get a clear answer from your SaaS provider. If you do get answers, you may not like what they tell you, but you will have limited or no options to improve the service levels. Most critically no SaaS provider makes it easy to move your data out of the platform.
Invariably when I get my prospective clients to dig, they realise that the SaaS providers do one thing very well, they provide a software based application over the cloud, but they are not experts in protecting the data that you create using their service and that's where specialists in this area are still vital.
Cloud backup is actually about protecting data created in the cloud and the best people to help you do that are the same people that have spent years building solutions that protect data wherever it may reside.