Categories
Infrastructure

Hybrid Backup

When considering solutions for data storage and backup we need to be prudent.  I have already covered, in an earlier article, how the costs of cloud storage and data transfer can vary greatly depending on a multitude of different factors. 

 As with the world at large, many of my clients are in a transition phase between hosting technology onsite and within the cloud.  Some are dipping their toes while others are embracing the cloud and all the benefits it brings more readily.

Onsite NAS devices have been a staple technology in SME (Small Medium sized Enterprises) for many years but as cloud storage becomes more prevalent their place in the office may eventually be in question.  However, while cloud storage costs remain relatively high their place is still highly relevant. 

In this “Hybrid” environment, one solution that I have found useful is provided by QNAP within their NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices. 

 The QNAP NAS device provides an app, accessed via the admin web interface, called “Hybrid Backup Sync”.  It provides a set of tools to allow incremental backup and replication of local NAS data into the cloud.  The software can connect to all the major cloud providers (Alicloud, AWS, Google, Dropbox and many others). The fine grained controls assist the IT professional in creating scheduled jobs that match the data retention policies the company requires whilst being cost efficient with cloud storage and transfer. 

Categories
Infrastructure

SME Cloud Backup Considerations

Recently I have been working with a client on securing their critical data both onsite and offsite. 

Article by Simon Challinor
Photo by Gnist Design from Pexels

Like many companies, they have realised the benefits of moving their applications to the cloud and slowly reducing the need for maintaining their own servers (hardware) within their offices. 

In this kind of situation, I have long realised that the word ‘backup’ can be misleading and is often misused; an oversimplification of a process that requires a great deal of thought for each type of data.  The application the data is derived from will set precedence for how it is restored in the event of a problem.  The individual file sizes may vary greatly from one set of data to another and this will have an impact on the cost of storage and data transfer (especially within the cloud). 

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Cloud storage can be expensive but the major cloud players such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, AliCloud etc all provide numerous storage options at different price levels.  The speed of the storage medium is usually one of the key factors but providers also break down the challenge by other dimensions such as frequency of access, geographical region of availability and the reliability of the storage medium.  Within their OSS (Object Storage Service) product offering, AliCloud provides classes such as “Standard” , “Infrequent Access” and “Archive”.

Whilst Archive is the cheapest per gigabyte there are certain restrictions on how frequently the data can be accessed and how quickly that data can be retrieved in the event its needed. It can take up to a minute for data to be unfrozen from its Archive state before it can even start to be downloaded.

IT professionals tasked with designing backup solutions need to have a good knowledge of the underlying systems that created the data originally in order to make educated decisions on how that data should be stored and restored. Database dumps can be hundreds of Gigabytes per file and that data should be treated very differently to images, text documents or email files. 

Unfortunately backup is often delegated to juniors within the company or the remit is taken over by desktop support companies who had no part in designing the original systems.