Is the cloud replacing tape as a backup of choice?

Cloud computing is being touted by many, especially vendors, as the path to take as businesses grow. Cloud advocates say that the elasticity that cloud provides is difficult to replicate in on-premises networks and sooner than later, businesses will be considering using services in the cloud.

Major vendors are developing data centers in many countries to alleviate concerns regarding the data leaving the country. However, the benefits of using services in the cloud usually out perform any concerns.

In an interview with Networks Asia, Aravindan Anandan, Consulting Systems Engineer, Asia Pacific, Barracuda Networks (India) Pte Ltd. talks about the benefits of cloud computing and its role in storage management, such as disaster recovery and backup.

The following is the excerpt of the interview:

People talk of the cloud offering speed, agility, cost inefficiencies, etc., but what are the current key driver and what keeps them in the cloud?

The current key driver of cloud is the ability to expand the company’s services seamlessly or

contract them when necessary using software defined networking. Of course there are also

other advantages such as running the IT infrastructure on an Opex business model that the

cloud allows too, but in terms of key drivers, scalability of the cloud is the main driving force.

Can the cloud really deliver all IT needs? How “off the shelf” can businesses be in the cloud? Can it deliver results without extensive customization?

Each business is different from one another but the cloud as a concept is very useful for all business verticals. However, the types of services offered through cloud computing may have to be analysed before opting for one. There are providers offering Infrastructure as a service, Platform as a service, Security as a service and all these services come under the ambit of cloud computing.

How much of the data businesses collect is really unstructured? How should they prioritize Tier 1 and other data? How much data is too much? How essential is it for queries to be settled in real time? How important does tagging, metadata become? What about being able to find old data after we move to data pools?

In the new digital world, end users and corporate employees do not really believe in deleting data and so many a time, company administrators are left with having find ways to manage all the data irrespective of whether they are structured or otherwise. However, apart from email data, other files and documents are normally categorised as unstructured data.

EMC is now talking about data lakes. How do you move from traditional storage to a data lake? What assumptions do we need to place on the data before we can move them to data pools?

More than anything else, it is important to understand if the data is being stored for compliance reasons alone or if retrieving of that data as quickly as possible is as important as storing them. It is important to invest in solutions that help quick retrieval of data and that is something Barracuda Networks focuses on. Restoring data as quickly as possible is key to our customers and that is a big driving force based on which they choose our solution.

If all data will be dumped into a single lake, how do you ensure data quality? What controls are there for security and privacy?

Barracuda Networks uses industry leading encryption algorithms to ensure data in transit is completely fool proof. Many a time, this is the most critical piece in the backup/restore puzzle and we will solve the problem amicably.

Would things be easier if businesses deployed a proper data warehouse?

Data warehousing is beneficial but totally depends on the scale of the company. It may not be the best solution at all times, considering that small and medium businesses also have backup requirements but do not necessarily have to deploy data warehouses.

How much DR and BCP has moved to the cloud?

Disaster recovery via cloud services is a great option for many clientele, simply because they get the scalability and the opex model of IT investments for a problem that has always been solved using traditional solutions. For example, Barracuda Networks offers live boot of virtualization systems directly from the cloud for the purpose of business continuity and is something the customers do not easily leverage with a physical DR. We see many of our customers subscribing to the cloud replication model.

Is the cloud replacing tape as a backup of choice? Are businesses moving to a D2D2C rather than the old D2D2T? But a D2D2C approach only really works in certain cloud environments, what other options are there for businesses? Will this see the end of tape?

Definitely. Cloud replication techniques have tremendous benefits compared to the manual process of using tape libraries and the physical labour needed move the tapes to the warehouses or the DR site. We will continue to see some pockets of the customers still using tapes but the reasons are mainly compliance and their inability to quickly move to a technically more advanced solution. We will expect to see this declining, however, wherein customers will migrate to the cloud model of replicating data slowly.