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Integrated Backup Appliances that De-emphasize Cloud Connectivity

By January 31, 2014 DCIG

The cloud seems to pervade every conversation around computing these days. However not all organizations are as enamored with the cloud as analysts and the press would lead us to believe. If anything, there is a sizable contingent of organizations that are fairly adamant about keeping their data out of the cloud and behind their corporate firewall. This is why, as DCIG prepares to release its forthcoming Buyer’s Guide on Integrated Backup Appliances, that it specifically de-emphasized cloud connectivity.

Backup appliances are sold in all sizes to fit businesses ranging from small up to large enterprises. As such, different backup appliance types have emerged to meet their differing requirements which has lead DCIG to divide the backup appliance market into three types:

  • Private Cloud. Backups that remain behind the corporate firewall.
  • Hybrid Cloud. Backup evenly divided between on premise and the cloud.
  • Public Cloud. Backup in the cloud where all data is sent to the cloud.

The forthcoming DCIG 2014-15 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide addresses the first type, private cloud backup, with the hybrid cloud backup being addressed by DCIG’s upcoming Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Guide. Since most public cloud backup solutions do not require an onsite appliance like the ones covered in these two Guides, DCIG has no immediate plans to produce a Buyer’s Guide on this topic.

Each of the three backup types offers specific features to support their intended use case. Those using backup appliances behind the firewall, or in a private cloud environment, have different requirements from those taking a hybrid cloud or  public cloud approach. The 2014 Integrated Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide focuses on backup appliances that reside behind the firewall and are primarily intended to keep data off of cloud storage providers.

These appliances offer backup software that offers the sufficient management capabilities to set backup and restore policies in an organization which is all bundled with the needed hardware in a single SKU. These best appliances typically combine the ability to do the backup of virtual and physical machines and match it with the hardware technology that different size companies demand. Yet what differentiates this backup approach from others is that while connectivity to cloud storage should be a consideration when making a purchase of one of these appliances, it is a much smaller factor in the overall decision making process and generally will NOT be a deciding factor in the final product selection.

Hybrid cloud backup takes a very different approach to backup storage as it uses cloud storage as an integral component in the storage process. While there may be a full backup onsite, the hybrid approach is a persistent connection to the cloud storage that cannot be optionally turned off.

The cloud storage service is critical to the functioning of these appliances and an aspect of backup appliances that will be addressed more thoroughly in the upcoming DCIG 2014-2015 Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide. For instance, in selecting a cloud storage provider, one has to consider if it offers virtualization in the cloud. Using this functionality, a company can create a virtual machine (VM) in the cloud to recover data should the onsite appliance go down or be unavailable. Using this option, application/data recovery can take place at another location altogether.

Other considerations when selecting a cloud storage provider that is part of a hybrid cloud backup solution includes:

  •  Is the backup data stored in only one physical location or multiple?
  • Of particular concern to many large organizations is, “In what country is the data stored?”
  • How quickly the application or data be recovered?
  • What methods (tape, replication, vMotion, etc.) does the cloud provider offer for recovering that data?
  • What network speeds are available to connect to the cloud service provider?
  • How much bandwidth does the cloud provider have coming into their data center(s)?
  • Does it have access to or reserve sufficient bandwidth to perform a recovery for your applications even as it backs up and ingests data from its other clients?

Public cloud backup is the third option for backup that focuses primarily on sending all backup data to a public cloud backup service provider. While there may be a small level of backup on premise, this type of backup does not require an onsite backup appliance like the ones covered in the other two upcoming DCIG Buyer’s Guides.

In examining public cloud backup, one primarily looks at its following service offerings:

  • Recovery speed to and from the cloud
  • Where and how the data is stored
  • Potentially how well the service addresses regulatory issues such as those involving healthcare and financial services
Charley McMaster

About Charley McMaster

Charley McMaster is a Senior Research Analyst focused on the storage and data protection markets at DCIG. Charley covers DCIG’s Midrange Deduplicating Backup Appliance, and Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guides, with additional work in Integrated Backup, Hybrid Cloud Backup, and Virtual Server technologies.

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