When deploying IT in the cloud, backup is an important consideration. However, cloud backup can be delivered in two ways: You can design and develop backup functionality using the cloud infrastructure and tools, or buy a professional 3rd party solution. The first option requires the design, development, deployment and management of the backup system by the customer himself. The second option allows the customer to shift some, or all, of the burden to a 3rd party who is an expert in the field.
In the IT world, it is common wisdom to focus on the core business and develop competencies to advance the enterprise business goals. If a required business function falls outside of the core business goals it is preferably outsourced. This is true for backup, particularly when protecting applications and data which running completely on the cloud, of course, but there’s a lot more to it. In this article, we will argue that native cloud environments introduce complex problems to designers of highly distributed critical applications, especially when dealing with backup and recovery.
So, what are the characteristics of the two approaches? Which insights lead us to conclude that buying a reputable 3rd party solution is the preferred choice? Below, we will highlight the most important technical, operational and business aspects of this option.
In-Cloud Backup is Different
Building and operating your own cloud backup application can be done. AWS provides the means for enterprises to design, develop, and manage their own backup solution. AWS CLI scripts that invoke API calls can be used to implement cloud backup procedures. Other scripts and AWS backup functionalities can be used to schedule and invoke the backup procedure on a periodical basis, as required. Any competent SW shop can undertake this task.
However, a cloud IT shop in responsible for a large and highly distributed cloud footprint will be faced with multiple issues that are likely to make this seemingly straightforward task a nightmare. Applications are expected to take responsibility for the safety, security, and integrity of the data. This can be challenging for an internal developed backup system. Furthermore, internally developed solution without massive time and resource investment is unlikely to effectively cover all possible scenarios requiring data recovery. Likewise, solutions that haven’t been comprehensively reviewed and tested are more prone to errors that might be revealed only when the much needed restore doesn’t work properly.
In addition, for many IT shops, backup is a part of the compliance with government regulation. When you build your backup solution, you need to ensure that your system is in verifiable compliance with regulations. Your market viability depends on it. Your backup facility must be able to support business continuity, regulated data loss tolerance, and specified security.
The Cloud Backup Management Challenge
Cloud Backup Security
To start, you must consider security. When leveraging the great world-wide presence of the public cloud, your systems might span across multiple regions. You have to manage various permissions and authorization policies across all of the system constituents, wherever they reside. Rights to invoke backup, access business data, and recovery implementation must be judicially granted to account for multiple distributed players in different zones, regions, and accounts.
Backup is a periodical operation that takes place in the background while normal business operations continue. Backup must be automated; manual invocation and orchestration is not scalable, and when dealing with distributed native cloud applications, the process is very error-prone. If you have ever tackled the issue of scripting, allocating, and provisioning distributed cloud resources, then you know that this is a complex task. As your automated cloud backup resource allocation procedure continues, it must be able to account for momentary resource shortages and compensate for it in real-time. This goes beyond simple scripting.
Controlling the production backup system is also an important consideration. Your management system must monitor the backup operation, collect and collate logs from multiple systems, analyze them, and alert the operator for any anomalies and errors that require human intervention. In addition, your backup application needs to log audit trails for internal tracking and compliance.
Finally, to get an idea of some of the complexities involved in building a robust backup application in the cloud, take a look at this paper from AWS that explains how to implement and deploy some basic functions of cloud backup on AWS. For example, for a database to be safely copied, you must execute a multi-step operation that puts the database into ‘hot backup’ mode, perform a series of snapshot commands, and take the database out of hot backup mode. There is a similar series of commands to perform file system backup. Again, these are only the basic functions – a comprehensive solution and management system is lot more than that.
Burden Relief: 3rd Party Comprehensive Solution
Hopefully, we thoroughly explained that in-house implementation, deployment, and management of cloud backup is a complex task. Still, quality backup that provides the foundation for various rainy day scenarios is absolutely necessary. Data loss that occurs due to software defects,, human errors, or (less frequent) floods or earthquakes will occur. Backup application that is built by experts was and still is the best approach for IT and born-in-the-cloud applications.
Instead of tackling the highly complex and sensitive task of implementing, deploying, and managing your own home-made solution, you’re much better off handing the responsibility to those who specialize in the field: purveyors of comprehensive solutions that can be trusted.
A professional 3rd party solution provides better control/flexibility and reduces the management burden. Native cloud backup solutions address all of the requirements and resolve the issues of complexity and security. With robust infrastructure, expertise and scale, the solution provider not only relieves the customer of the implementation and management of the backup, but also allows for the scale, agility and consistency that modern enterprise IT looks for. This includes advanced capabilities such as file level recovery, tag based backup of specific application stacks, and even cross cloud accounts (i.e. AWS account) backup.
Looking for a native cloud backup and recovery and disaster recovery solution? Check out Cloud Protection Manager