How Cloud Computing is Revolutionizing Data Backup

by | Aug 1, 2018

Remember the days before cloud computing was, well, everywhere?

It’s hard to believe that, only a decade or two ago, businesses were way more centralized. IT infrastructure was all on-site. Applications ran only on in-house computers. Email, files and data were all stored on-premise, just steps from the office kitchen.

 

But now, with the rise of cloud computing, it’s almost absurd to imagine a business operating like this. And frankly, it has become expensive (and risky) to do so.

In this post, we take a closer look at the state of “the cloud” today—and how it continues to totally change the way we think about data backup (and everything else).

 

What is the cloud, anyway?

First, a brief explainer …

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing resources and services over the Internet. It differs from traditional on-premise computing, which pulls resources directly from the devices at your fingertips (or from on-site servers).

In very simple terms, a cloud is created by a computer (or a server, really) that provides services remotely to other computers.

For example, Gmail is an example of a cloud-based email service in which all the email data and the software powering it is stored in the cloud, away from the user. This differs from traditional software like Outlook, which is installed on the user’s computer and stores email data to the local machine.

 

The rise of cloud computing

While the technology behind cloud computing has existed for decades, the actual term didn’t become ubiquitous until around 2006. That’s when Amazon released its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which allowed users to run applications virtually on Amazon’s computer systems.

By the mid-2000s, bandwidth speeds continued to increase rapidly while costs continued to decline. More computing power, combined with increasing network speed, meant that software and other services no longer had to be powered entirely by the end-user’s computer. Applications, and the data stored within them, could be powered by the cloud and accessed anywhere.

 

Cloud-everything

It would be a mistake to think of the cloud as merely an off-site reservoir of files and apps. It’s way bigger than that.

Today, the cloud is powering numerous aspects of business operations and, in the process, replacing the need for on-site infrastructure.

Here are just a few high-level examples of cloud-based offerings commonly deployed by businesses around the globe:

  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS): Cloud-based software for running critical business apps, such as Salesforce, accounting apps and human resources platforms, just to name a few.
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS): These tend to be cloud-based platforms that enable apps to run and be developed. One example of this would be Google’s App Engine, a cloud-based platform for developers.
  • Communications-platform-as-a-service (CPaas): Another cloud-based tool for developers that allows them to build voice, video, and other communications features into their apps without needing to build their own backend infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS): Server and network infrastructure for businesses that don’t necessarily have a need (or budget) for sprawling on-site infrastructure. One example would be leased datacenter space for the purpose of creating a private cloud.

The list goes on and on: there’s also DBaaSS (Database), NaaS (Network), MaaS (Monitoring) and DRaaS (Disaster Recovery, which we’ll come back to in a minute), just to name a few.

 

The cost efficiency of cloud computing

The cloud has become so ubiquitous in part because of its cost efficiency and ease.

Smaller businesses in particular can save money by relying on cloud offerings instead of building expensive on-site infrastructure.

Developers can build and host apps without ever deploying their own server.

Companies can store and process data in cloud-based software without worrying about large-scale installations, updates or building their own in-house applications.

 

Cloud-based data backup

One of the biggest sectors of cloud computing today is data backup.

The cloud is eliminating the need for massive on-site data storage and magnetic tape archives. It’s allowing businesses to easily store and retrieve data from anywhere. It’s removing the risks of keeping all data on-site, where it’s vulnerable to natural disasters and other threats.

Again, it’s easy to think of cloud backup as merely a solution for keeping extra copies of your files. But it’s way more than that…

 

Hybrid cloud

With hybrid cloud technology from companies like Datto, companies are achieving far higher levels of protection and availability of their data.

That’s because hybrid cloud backups are a combination of 1) on-site backups and 2) replicated backups in the cloud:

  • The on-site backup provides the fastest access to data, especially if a total restore is needed.
  • The cloud backup provides added assurance that data will be available if the on-site backup is unavailable (i.e. after a fire).

In an ideal deployment, the on-site data would be backed up to a dedicated BDR appliance, which seamlessly mirrors the data to the cloud.

But this is only the beginning of what’s possible with cloud-based backup.

 

Hybrid virtualization

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Virtualization is another big game-changer for businesses, powered by the rise in cloud computing.

If you’re a remote worker who has used VPN to access the company network—or even an entire OS interface within one window on your device—then you’re already familiar with the benefits of virtualization.

Virtualization has also become intertwined with data backup. BDR systems like Datto’s are storing image-based backups that are actually fully bootable virtual machines. That means the entire system—data and applications—are backed up and can be restored virtually in seconds. It means businesses can continue to run their business-critical applications, even after a major data loss.

Datto has pushed this continuity even further with hybrid virtualization and 100% cloud virtualization. These options rely on Datto’s cloud resources to spin up a backup, so businesses can access their data from anywhere.

 

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

This is where disaster recovery is really evolving.

Cloud-based backup technologies, and capabilities like off-site virtualization, are making the job of disaster recovery more streamlined and less centralized.

For years, the best way to back up and protect your data was to invest heavily in expensive, on-site infrastructure. This put BC/DR out of reach for smaller businesses, even though their data was just as important.

Cloud computing and DRaaS are changing all that.

Smaller businesses can now deploy technologies like Datto’s to get enterprise-grade data protection for a fraction of the cost. The entire infrastructure can be protected and virtualized instantly in the cloud, from anywhere. Also, it means that BC/DR can be managed off-site by skilled managed-service providers, freeing up companies’ in-house IT resources (and budgets).

 

What a cloud recovery looks like

Imagine a fire destroys your offices overnight.

Your servers—and all the data on them—are toast. Your financial data, order records, inventory information … all gone. Even the applications that power your operations, which were hosted on your on-premise machines, are gone.

A disaster like that can kill a business. In fact, roughly 40 percent of businesses that experience such a disaster will never reopen their doors.

But with cloud backup, an entirely different outcome is possible.

Protected businesses can virtualize a backup from anywhere: an emergency backup location, an MSP’s office, or even an employee’s home computer. They can instantly access their data and run those business-critical applications in a virtual environment, so that operations don’t remain in a dangerous standstill.

Separately, the business can rebuild its on-site infrastructure by conducting full or incremental restores from the cloud (or even get all their restores by mail, direct from the datacenter).

 

The cloud of tomorrow

We’ve only scratched the surface of what cloud computing can do, especially as technologies continue to improve.

Imagine, for example, virtually computer-less offices – just monitors connected to the Internet and powered by the cloud.

Imagine off-site infrastructure delivering far faster app performance and data transfers, on par with the speeds of your on-site infrastructure.

We’re limited only by the speed of our Internet connection—and even that is on pace to explode in the next few years. Gigabit internet is becoming much more common, not just for large companies but for SMBs and consumers too. This is enabling businesses to achieve far greater data transfer speeds, so they can leverage the cloud like never before. And we’re not just talking 1 Gbps either. ISPs like Xfinity are already rolling out fiber speeds up to 2 Gbps in select areas.

Higher transfer speeds and off-site processing power will usher in new levels of automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more—all powered by the cloud and delivered seamlessly to businesses’ on-site devices, wherever they are and without the need for building costly infrastructure.

Cloud-based DRaaS and data backup technologies will become even cheaper and more accessible to even the smallest businesses. And frankly, as they do, there will be no excuse for any business to lose their data ever again.

 

Find the right backup solution for your business

Let us help you select the right data BC/DR solution for your business. Request a free demo of hybrid cloud backup technologies from Datto, or contact our business continuity experts at Invenio IT. Call (646) 395-1170 or email [email protected].

Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.