Backup products have always sought to differentiate themselves by offering specific features that met different organizational needs. But at the end of the day, backup products primarily had to account for protecting the data that organizations had with these products placing a lower priority on recovery and cloud connectivity. Those days are largely over with all backup products (save a few) having transformed to offer cloud data protection with many of them providing a variety of cloud recovery options.
The transformation of backup to cloud data protection is nearly complete. In DCIG’s most recent research covering more than 100 products designed to do backup, less than two percent of them offered no options to connect to some type of cloud. Further, in talking with the few providers whose products do not yet offer cloud connectivity, they plan to either offer it very soon or end of life that product line.
This means that any organization running the most current product release (be it running as an appliance or software) can connect to a cloud outside of their data center. This product will minimally enable them to store data with either a public or private cloud provider with more mature products offering various recovery options in the cloud. This incorporation of cloud connectivity into these products has prompted DCIG to reclassify backup as cloud data protection as it reflects the heightened focus these products have on leveraging the cloud as part of a comprehensive data protection strategy.
The good news for organizations who want to get their data off site and into the cloud is that it has never been easier to accomplish this feat. Most enterprise cloud data protection products give organizations the ability to store a copy of data locally as part of the daily backup process and then move a copy of that data to the cloud.
The hard part of this equation is verifying the product or products offers the features and provides you with flexibility you need. Consider:
- Public, private, or both. Cloud connectivity does not mean you will automatically have access to the type of cloud your company may want or need. Some products only connect to public clouds such as Amazon, Microsoft, or Google. Others only offer connectivity to their own storage clouds. Some only connect to the clouds offered by their resellers. Some products may connect to any of these types of clouds.
- Recovery means different things to different people. When a vendor says that its product provides an organization with the ability to recover in the cloud, organizations may interpret that statement too broadly. In other words, they may understand it to mean they can recover any (or all) of their applications or data in the cloud at any time. Realize that when a vendor tells you it can provide cloud recoveries, they may be referring to recovering only data, a single application or at most a few applications. If you have higher expectations for recovery in the cloud, verify the vendor offers the type of experience you expect.
- Features still matter. With everyone turning their focus to storing data in the cloud and recovering in the cloud, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that you still need a good backup before you can have a good recovery. Here again, organizations should assume that products do NOT offer all the features they may need. This is certainly true of products released in the last five years and even over the last decade. These more recent products are often well positioned to protect Windows, Linux, and VMware environments but may not offer the necessary features to protect UNIX environments or applications such as DB2, Oracle, MySQL, and others. Further, event those that do protect Windows, Linux, and VMware environments may not provide the type of application or file recoveries to which they were previously accustomed.
Cloud data protection has finally arrived freeing organizations to safely assume that almost any product they select to do backup and recovery gives them options to connect to the cloud. But cloud connectivity comes with some caveats. Organizations must still verify what type of cloud or clouds to which these products connect, what types of recoveries they can perform (if any), and that they can successfully protect their data in the first place.
Identifying which features to look for and which products support these features can be accomplished using the DCIG Competitive Intelligence Portal. As part of its research into Cloud Data Protection, DCIG has captured information on over 200 features from 100+ cloud protection products through which organizations can generate reports. These reports quickly illustrate which features that products share as well as how they differ. To subscribe and access the DCIG Competitive Intelligence Portal, follow this link.