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Exploring Backup Strategies in the Enterprise

Data backup is an insurance plan, and every enterprise should consider how to recover data when a accident or disaster occurs. Without a backup solution, companies are left with nothing to fall back on. Luckily, there are several options regarding how and where data can be stored data safely and securely. It is important to know what options are available, especially for a large business, when deciding on a backup plan, so check out the pros and cons of these 4 backup methods in regard to the following criteria:
  • Privacy and Security - Who gets involved with your data? Are there any privacy concerns?
  • Recovery Time - Time is an important factor in any enterprise. For critical systems, you may need to get back online swiftly.
  • Accessibility - How accessible is the data? Anytime, any device, anywhere?
  • Offsite Storage - Is backed up data stored at a different location?
  • Cost - What sort of equipment is required? Identify any initial/ongoing costs.
  • Downsides - Some possible disadvantages to this technology.

1. Tape Drive

The Tape Drive is one of the oldest and most common technologies used for data storage, with the use of magnetic tape cartridges to store data. Privacy and Security - One of the things that makes this type of backups an appealing choice is the fact that it is typically based on-site within the company using them. 

  • Privacy and security - definitely score high with a Tape Drive Backup. It comes down to who will be responsible for the data. Ideally it should be someone who is in charge of the backup and recovery plan, and a primary contact of the organization. 
  • Recovery Time - Newer models of tape drives have a very large capacity. However, one of the downsides to this technology is the amount of time it may take to recover data. Tape drives store data in a linear fashion. Let's assume that the tape drive saved 26 letters of the English alphabet (A to Z), but there was a need to restore only the letters E, J, and P. One possible solution is to move to the location of letter E, then restore everything up to letter P (which includes letter J). The recovered data would include 10 extra letters that are not needed. 
  • Accessibility - Although tapes are physically located on site, accessibility is very limited. There is no way to view a backed up file from a mobile device. The concept of anytime, any device and anywhere does not apply in case of tape drives. 
  • Offsite Storage - It is possible to store the backed up data at an offsite location, however it would require a good amount of manual work. The person who is assigned the task of managing this backup would have to manually transfer data to the tape drive every day. Also, if this person is unable to backup data (perhaps they are sick, on vacation, or forgetful), it may cause some problems as there would be gaps in the data. 
  • Cost - Tape drives typically require SCSI-USB converter in order for an Operating System to access the data stored on the device. Sometimes additional software is required in order for an OS to recognize the tape as a native drive. So the initial cost for this backup includes the tape drive itself, along with a possible need for converter(s) and software(s) for compatibility. The only ongoing cost would be maintenance of the magnetic strips, which may eventually wear out over an extended period of time. 
  • The Downside - Recovering data requires too much time; limited remote and mobile access; external converter needed to access data; requires human interaction, which may result in data gaps.

2. External USB Drive

The External USB (Universal Serial Bus) drive began to make its presence in the backup market in the early 2000's. Since then, data storage for these devices have evolved from as little as 128MB to 2TB storage, quite a technological jump spanning only roughly a decade.

  • Privacy and Security - Like the tape drive, the External USB is a device that is kept on-site within the enterprise using the backup solution, and it is typically held responsible by trusted members of the company. External USB's basically have all of the perks regarding privacy and security as tape drives. The differences come into play when considering recovery time and accessibility.
  • Recovery Time - Unlike the tape drive, data is not stored linearly or sequentially. Let's consider the backup containing the 26 letters of the English alphabet (as mentioned above). The need for letters E, J, and P can quickly be recovered simply by selecting those specific characters from the device. There is no need to restore 10 unnecessary letters.
  • Accessibility - USB drives can come in different storage formats, depending on the OS that it is interacting with and they are typically quick to use and highly portable. The devices themselves do not allow for mobile access, so the concept of anytime, any device, anywhere does not apply to USB Drives.
  • Offsite Storage - Similar to the tape drive, the USB drive requires a good amount of manual work in order to bring the backup to an offsite location for safe storage. The same risks apply when it comes to the availability of the individual who is in charge of managing USB drive backup.
  • Cost - Depending on the storage size of the device, USB drives can cost anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars. Older computers were once manufactured with floppy disk drives, which basically had the same functionality as the USB drive, but they were unable to contain nearly as much data, and their transfer speeds failed in comparison. More recently, computers have become completely compatible with USB drives via built-in USB ports for easy access to these external drives (among other purposes), so there is usually no need for extra converters. The initial cost for this type of backup include the USB drive itself, and there is typically no ongoing cost aside from physical maintenance of the device.
  • The Downside - Limited remote and mobile access; OS compatibility (depends on device format); every machine that needs to be backed up will need a USB port.

3. Public Cloud

A public cloud is a form of "cloud-computing" in which data is stored off-site and is typically handled by a 3rd party service provider that makes its resources (such as, storage servers) available to the general public over the Internet.

  • Privacy and Security - While most service providers include a tightly-knit Privacy Policy upon the agreement of using their services, an enterprise business may feel a bit uneasy with having a "middle-man" between their important (and most-likely confidential) data and their storage location. Perhaps it is not the in-flight process of transferring data that may cause one to worry, but rather the actual destination where the data is stored. As with tape drives and USB drives, the question remains: who will be responsible for the data? In this case, responsibility falls primarily on the service provider and an enterprise has very limited control over any unintentional data leaks that can occur at the off-site location.
  • Recovery Time - There are a couple ways to recover data from an offsite location. One way is to download the required data over the internet, which may take quite some time especially if the dataset is large. Another method, which depends on whether or not the service provider offers such a feature, is to burn the data onto a disk or external drive, and then physically ship the disk/device to the enterprise. This method not only takes time to burn the data, but must also consider the shipping speed, which may take several days.
  • Accessibility - Unlike tape drives and USB drives, OS compatibility is usually not an issue as there is no need for USB converters or USB ports on the physical machine in order to view the backed up data. Access to the internet is the only requirement for this type of backup. The concept of anyTime, any device, anywhere is absolutely relevant for public cloud backups. Depending on what the service provider offers, data can be accessed via internet browsers, mobile devices, and various software applications. Also, data is typically transferred securely via supportive technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and AES-encryption.
  • Offsite Storage - All backed up data is stored on the service provider's storage servers, and there is no need to rely on the availability of an individual (as with tape drive and USB drive backups). This is beneficial for an enterprise that is looking to save on local virtual storage space, or for one that is limited to such resources. Data is transferred via an internet connection.
  • Cost - Depending on the service provider, the cost per month can vary both in price as well as in available feature sets. Some might charge a flat monthly fee, others may charge depending on how much disk space the enterprise requires on the service provider's storage servers. This all depends on the particular business model that the service provider is looking to market. Additionally, when it comes to a public cloud backup plan, an enterprise must consider the type of support that is available from the service provider, as well as the feature-set that their backed up data needs (such as, encryption, file versions, reporting, etc). For most public cloud backup solutions, the initial cost also becomes the ongoing cost in the form of recurring fees.
  • The Downside - Possible data leaks at offsite location; monthly/annual subscription fees; data usage fees; possible recovery fees.

4. Private Cloud

A private cloud is the phrase used to describe a form of cloud-computing that is implemented on-site within the Enterprise, typically under the control of the IT department. A private cloud is designed to offer the same features and benefits of public cloud systems, but removes a number of objections to the cloud computing model, including control over enterprise and customer data, worries about security, and issues connected to regulatory compliance.

  • Privacy and Security - Unlike public cloud storage, the Privacy Policy for a private cloud solution is maintained entirely within the enterprise (as is the data being backed up). Any risk of data leaks is controlled by the enterprise itself, and there is no "middle-man" company that stands between the enterprise and their data. Much like tape drives and USB drives, responsibility for the backed up data is kept indoors, perhaps with the IT Department.
  • Recovery Time - Typically, the storage server (or data center) where the backed up data is saved is located within the network of the Enterprise. So the transfer speeds for backing up and/or recovering data is usually fast and reliable since no information is actually sent out into the internet. If the data center is outside of the network, then transfer speeds may vary depending on the network connection. In any case, the enterprise has full control of how data is recovered, whether they prefer network downloads or burning data onto a disk/device.
  • Accessibility - Similar to public cloud backups, the concept of anyTime, any device, anywhere applies to private cloud backups as well. Data is readily accessible via an internet browser, software application, or mobile device via a network or internet connection.
  • Offsite Storage - Data is generally stored within the enterprise, however, the option to keep the storage location offsite is also available. In either case, it is the responsibility of the enterprise to provide enough storage space that is sufficient to hold all backed up data.
  • Cost - Since this type of backup service is not administered by an offsite service provider, it does not require any ongoing monthly or annual expenses. In fact, it can be considered more of a product than a service, and the enterprise has full control over the product after it has been purchased. The initial cost for this type of backup includes the software and the storage device(s). The only ongoing cost would be the maintenance of the storage device(s).
  • The Downside - The enterprise is responsible for the size of the storage device(s).

Summary

Backup Type Privacy/Security Recovery Time Accessibility Offsite Storage Cost Score
Tape Drive 10 5 6 6 7 68.0%
External USB 10 10 6 6 10 84.0%
Public Cloud 6 7 10 10 6 78.0%
Private Cloud 10 10 10 10 10 100.0%

At some level, data can be considered the core of an enterprise, and it should absolutely be of high priority to keep it safely & securely protected from all types of disasters. So in conclusion, the Private Cloud Backup turns out to be the ideal solution to keep data safe & secure for an enterprise. With little cost and maintenance, not only does it have all of the benefits of a public cloud backup with regards to data recovery and accessibilty, but it also boasts the benefits of Tape drive and USB drive backups when it comes to privacy and security.

If you are looking for a Private Cloud solution, try using Syncrify. We offer a 30 day trial so you or your organization can test if Syncrify's features meets the needs of your recovery and backup requirements.



Created on: 3/18/15 1:02 PM
Last updated on: 7/5/17 1:02 PM

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