Why Cloud Storage is not an Effective Backup Solution
The recent fire at one of OVH’s datacenters left many of its customers scrambling to recover from the loss of critical applications and data. They realized too late that their disaster recovery plans needed to account for the sudden loss of a third-party datacenter.
Cloud storage services often promote themselves with offers of backup protection. However, there are important differences between a cloud storage service and a true backup solution. In this article, we will cover the main weaknesses of relying on cloud storage as a backup solution and wrap up with tips on how to implement the most effective backup and disaster recovery procedures.
Cloud Storage Weakness 1: Does not Provide Offsite Backup
Cloud storage services makes it possible to share a single copy of data or host an application accessible to employees from multiple locations. However, they typically store backups, if backups exist at all, in the same datacenter where the customer’s files are hosted in the cloud. As a result, the customer data is not protected against loss in the event of a disaster.
Cloud Storage Weakness 2: Version Control Only Applies to Individual Files
Some cloud storage services provide rudimentary version control features to help users recover files after short-term errors or deletions. However, this should not be confused with disaster recovery. The ability to restore workstations, servers and entire business systems is beyond the scope of cloud storage. In contrast, a true backup service can restore all the files and software that was present on a workstation or application server on a given day in the past (assuming that backups are created daily).
Cloud Storage Weakness 3: Not 100% Secure
While cloud services are hardened against cyberattacks, it is not impossible for them to be breached. If they are exposed to the Internet, which most file syncing and application hosting services are, then third parties can find ways to infiltrate them. Cloud storage is vulnerable to ransomware attacks, for example, if an employee’s workstation that syncs files with the cloud server is infected.
What Key Features Should an Effective Backup Solution Have?
A robust backup solution safeguards an organization’s IT systems and sensitive data from both accidental loss and unanticipated disasters. Enterprise backup solutions should follow the 3-2-1 principle:
* Maintain at least three copies of data to reduce the risk of losing backups in worse-case scenarios.
* Use at least two different types of backup storage such as internal hard drives, external media, or cloud storage.
* Have at least one complete copy of backup data offsite to prevent it from being lost during a catastrophic event like a fire or equipment failure.
The advent of cloud business systems has added complexity to this proven method of backing up data because organizations today have systems that rely on third-party datacenters. Proprietary information that resides on third-party infrastructure also needs to follow the 3-2-1 principle. This means that cloud backups are stored safely at other locations. OVH customers who followed this rule were able to recover much faster by restoring their systems with backups maintained elsewhere when the datacenter was destroyed.
An effective backup solution is a key component of a disaster recovery plan. However, business organizations need to do more to respond to an unforeseen event like a datacenter fire, system failure, or cyberattack. The goal of a disaster recovery plan is to put into place procedures that limit or eliminate the impact of these events on an organization. Because disasters can threaten the continued existence of a business, these plans are sometimes also called business continuity plans.
What are the key goals of a disaster recovery plan?
* Reduce or eliminate an interruption to operations
* Mitigate the costs of physical damage and downtime sustained
* Provide for temporary processes during recovery
* Train employees in recovery procedures
* Restore customer services as rapidly as possible
In the past, disaster recovery plans focused on physical threats like power outages and fires; however, organizations today are just as vulnerable to interruptions to their IT systems. These systems, in turn, have become increasingly complex and operate 24/7/365, making it difficult to maintain 100% uptime.
How to Create a Strong Disaster Recovery Plan
Here are the key steps to take when creating a robust disaster recovery plan:
- Outline the primary goals that must be met.
- Discover stakeholders and document the employees responsible for business systems.
- Create a comprehensive inventory of applications and data stores.
- Create and maintain an inventory of physical equipment and infrastructure.
- Plan procedures to conduct or direct business from a mobile site with backup sites determined in advance.
- Carefully plan the procedures needed to efficiently restore operation of critical business systems.
- Train personnel to follow recovery procedures in advance of disasters taking place.
- Test recovery procedures with mock disasters and evaluate performance during and after testing.
- Periodically review and refine recovery procedures to incorporate lessons learned during tests and actual disasters.
- Keep detailed documentation of recovery procedures and a history of planning changes.
Modern Disaster Recovery Is Complex
Modern technologies like cloud storage and IaaS applications have made the task of safeguarding customer and proprietary information complex. However, solutions do exist. These solutions can store backup images of servers located onsite or on hybrid cloud datacenters that serve multiple locations. While the backup needs of large organizations and small business differ, there are disaster recovery consultants who have experience creating successful recovery plans for a wide range of needs.
For organizations overwhelmed by the complexity of their IT systems, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions might be an option. They are designed to provide a safety net for business organizations and can be tailored to their business processes and cloud technologies.
Outsource IT can also help in this regard. Our Outsource IT BBA is a reliable backup and disaster recovery solution specifically created for businesses. Contact an Outsource IT account manager today to learn more about how we can help.