By John Margiolas, Marketing Analyst, EVault
So, you’re thinking of moving to the cloud? You’ve seen the commercials, read the articles and are convinced that the ROI will be strong and fit the direction of your IT department. It’s a done decision. So, how do you actually move to the cloud?
There are a few options available to move your data to the cloud.
- Direct Copy – The first is just a direct copy of your data and hosting in the cloud. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. No storage to worry about and no infrastructure. Let someone else handle it. In practice, this has some drawbacks, for instance, how do you get the data there? Usually you can load data to a device and ship it, but if your cloud provider requires over the line transfer, you may be in a bind. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, you may never actually complete the transfer.
In addition, bandwidth issues may hinder progress. If you have a large amount of data, simply replicating it the cloud may not be feasible. Access to data may be limited. If you need to pull a large amount of data back, locally, you may run into some bandwidth saturation. This option is the least attractive, unless you have unlimited bandwidth and little need for local data.
- Cloud Gateway – The next idea is to use a cloud gateway to deduplicate and send data offsite. Using this would just get your data offsite. It works by copying data to a disk target, which is then deduplicated with only the changed data being sent off site. This is a preferred approach to just copying the data off site but, again, there are things to consider with a cloud gateway. First is that It is just a copy. Simply copying data off site doesn’t ensure that proper retention of that data is specified. It has no real versioning or may just have a rudimentary snapshot strategy.
Further cloud gateways won’t let you pull large amounts of data back without bandwidth strain. Deduplication rates vary widely between vendors; truthfully, most target deduplication devices do not achieve the promised numbers quoted. The biggest gain in deduplication is done at the client side. You only take smaller amounts of resources on the client side, that cascades all the way through the process, both internally and externally.
- Hybrid – Another option and my personal favorite, is hybrid, which allows you to retain the most important data locally AND transfer it to the cloud. A good hybrid solution will allow you to set retention policies on the data. It will keep multiple versions of that data, for compliance and “whoops factor” reasons. It should also deduplicate from the client side.
If your idea is minimal impact to your environment, with maximum benefit to your available resources, hybrid will give you the biggest bang for the buck. Look for a good compression ratio as your data should not compress at a constant rate but rather it should vary. For instance, I’ve seen 25:1 compression (real world ratios, on already deduped data) on certain applications, and 1.5:1 on graphics. The point is, if that 25:1 is available, your application should do that, even if it can only get 1.5:1 on graphics. It should compress each bit of data as much as possible.
Hybrid also solves the issue of transferring data across the wire. It keeps the copies you are most likely to need locally and puts items with a longer Recovery Time Objective (RTO) in the cloud, right sizing your environment. Also, you want to make sure you have solid application integration. There is no point in risking your application’s health by trying to re-apply a crash consistent copy to that application.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out the move towards hybrid environments from EVault’s 2nd Annual Cloud-Connected Backup and Recovery Survey. Within organizations already benefiting from a hybrid data protection environment, 74 percent report they needed the increased flexibility a hybrid approach brings to their data management infrastructure, which becomes more and more important as data volumes increase. 57 percent of all IT leaders we surveyed prefer their hybrid solution because their rapidly growing business critical data requires protection against natural disaster and theft.
So, your decision to go to the cloud may introduce some complex architectural design questions into your plans, but, with simple planning and insisting on the right features, it can achieve all of your goals and get your company working more efficiently and effectively.
As EVault’s Marketing Analyst John Margiolas’ hair is feathered like the wings of a majestic bird. He can be reached at email@example.com.