Viewing hybrid cloud backup appliances strictly in the context of “backup and recovery” is a mindset that organizations must strive to overcome. While these appliances certainly fulfill this traditional role, new use cases are constantly emerging for these appliances. Hybrid cloud backup appliance have now matured to the point where organizations may use them in multiple roles besides just backup.
Hybrid cloud backup appliances minimally solve a challenge that confronts many organizations. They provide onsite backups and give them the flexibility to store backup copies of their data in the cloud for data recovery purposes. Instead of needing to purchase and install backup appliances at two or more locations for data recovery, organizations may use a hybrid cloud backup appliance in conjunction with a public cloud storage provider as a means to:
- Move and store data offsite
- Keep a retention copy or copies of the backup data with the provider long term
- Set the stage for organizations to recover their applications at the provider’s site
Once these standard data protection requirements are met, organizations may now look to leverage some of the other features that a number of hybrid cloud backup appliances offer to address their broader business continuity needs.
For example, some hybrid cloud backup appliances give organizations the flexibility to create one or more VMs on the appliance that can host the protected applications and/or their data. Using this features, these organizations can, with comparative levels of ease and simplicity and without disrupting their production environment, test and verify that they can restore protected applications and data.
Some appliances even offer the flexibility to run these applications on a VM in a standby state. In this configuration, if the production application goes offline, the application running on the standby VM on the hybrid cloud backup appliance can keep the application operational until the production server or VM comes back online.
Restoring applications on a standby VM also gives organizations new flexibility to test application and operating system fixes, patches and upgrades before they apply them on the production server. An organization may bring up an application on a VM on the hybrid cloud backup appliance in a configuration that mimics their production environment.
Fixes, patches or upgrades may then be applied to either the OS and/or application to verify that they work. This technique also gives administrators some practice on how to apply the patch and grants them visibility and understanding into what occurs on the system when the fix or patch is applied such as seeing what alerts are generated (if any) and how much time it takes to complete.
Organizations using public cloud storage providers that offer cloud recovery options may even be able to go so far as to simulate a disaster recovery (DR) at the provider’s site. Granted, no organization should expect any of the appliances evaluated in DCIG’s recently released Hybrid Cloud Backup Appliance Buyer’s Guide to provide an out-of-the-box, turnkey DR solution. However using these appliances and the partnerships they have built with various public cloud storage providers, organizations may realistically look toward creating a viable DR solution much more easily than they have in the past.
Most hybrid cloud backup appliances provide the out-of-the-box backup experience that organizations expect when they acquire them. However for organizations to strictly view and use these appliances strictly in that context is to fail to fully realize the additional value that these appliances now bring to the table. By giving organizations the flexibility to stand-up VMs, test fixes, patches and upgrades and even simulate disaster recoveries, these appliances give organizations the opportunity and foundation to begin to implement some level of business continuity in their day-to-day operations.