What is cloud backup and how does it work?
Cloud backup is becoming an increasingly common method of secondary data storage. The word ‘Cloud’ is a common one on the lips of many people who manage large datasets. Given the importance of ensuring that a firm can recover its data assets in the event of a disaster, the cloud is a concept well worth exploring. The word is now often used in conjunction with the prudent and sensible plan of backing up data. This article will explore what cloud backup is, what the benefits are and why its popularity has come about in the age of big data.
The value is in the data
Before delving into what exactly cloud backup is and how it operates in practice, it’s worth remembering first of all that cloud backup has only become strictly necessary in recent years thanks to a significant rise in the importance of large scale, ‘big data’. Data has not always been a commodity and an asset like it is now —, for many years, data was much smaller in scope and importance.
Even just two or three decades ago, the amount of data most standard organisations captured was relatively small. It may have focused in particular on relevant areas such as basic employee data — references, as well as files about performance, promotion and so on. Client data would have been kept, but perhaps only a handful of physical files for each client. While accounting has always been important, many organisations would ensure they captured the statutory minimum information on company inflows and outflows — and then leave it at that.
Today, however, the age of strategy has dawned and with it has come the technological capacity to capture seemingly endless realms of data on every stakeholder in an organisation. Each employee, for example, can now track their time down to the second using sophisticated data capture techniques. Each supplier can have the whereabouts, value and estimated delivery time of every component in the supply chain tracked to within seconds. Business development teams can run constant, complex and multi-variate analyses on client data to ensure that every relevant insight can be extracted and applied to customer retention and profit enhancement practices. In the age of big data, all of this information has to go somewhere. Step forward cloud backup — a solution designed to store large quantities of data automatically in a virtual location owned and operated by the company itself.
Cloud backup and how it works
Put simply, Cloud backup is a form of data storage and recovery that operates not on in-house storage devices or even on a company’s servers, but on a separate, secure, public or private internet space. The user pays for the privilege of doing this, and in return can access their data remotely or, in the event of a data breakdown, replace their primary data with that on the backed-up server.
In terms of the practicalities, cloud backup works relatively well for many organisations. There’s an option to choose between Public Cloud backup and Private Cloud backup, for example. Enterprise users with large scale datasets will often choose the second version, although public clouds work well too. Innovation is quite rife in this sector, with new product and service offerings coming out regularly. So-called ‘cloud-to-cloud’ backup, for example, offers a way of backing up data several times over by replicating data in one cloud and storing it elsewhere.
What are the benefits of cloud backup?
One of the main benefits of cloud backup is the ability it offers to scale. With historic types of data backup media, such as compact discs or even USB sticks, scalability was not a key component of the offer. When the backup medium was purchased, a finite amount of storage space came with it. If more space was required, a fresh medium or device would need to be purchased. Conversely, if all of the storage space was not used then the customer would certainly not receive a refund. That’s not the case with cloud backup. On the contrary, many cloud backup services offer an elastic, or utility-based, pricing model designed to help customers pay less when they use less and more when they pay more.
Disaster recovery is also a key part of the Cloud computing model. Given that for many organisations, data is almost as important a commodity as equity or cash, a big data loss can be a significant problem. It could lead, for example, to loss of all the important information that is required to assess profit and loss sheets correctly, or a loss of data on former clients who have gone cold but may have otherwise reconnected with the organisation in the future. Thanks to a cloud backup system’s ability to seamlessly transfer data from one device to the cloud on an automated, real-time basis without the need for an organisation to hit ‘back up’, it’s possible to build a ‘disaster recovery’ site, which can recreate all of the data lost. This does, however, mean that the organisation opting for the cloud system needs to spend some cash and allocate some time upfront to ensuring that the infrastructure is in place.
The desire to back up key data has existed for decades. But the ability to back it up using the cloud is new and innovative. Cloud backup, whether public or private and whether utility-based or subscription-based, offers a way to securely and firmly create disaster recovery sites, remote data access, and much more. Cloud backup ought to be a key tenet of any business plan to ensure that it can continue to have access to all of its files, folders, media and more if the worst happens and a data-loss nightmare occurs.