Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Backup vs. Business Continuity

Disaster Recovery Page Question

What’s the Difference between Storage, Backup and true Disaster Recovery Solutions?

The media seems to interchange the term Cloud Storage and Cloud Backup with ease. In reality they are actually quite different solutions for different problems. There is no ‘official’ definition, but I’ll try and pull it together based on the most commonly accepted criteria.

According to Wikipedia:

Cloud Storage:

A model of networked online storage where data is stored in virtualized pools of storage which are generally hosted by third parties. Hosting companies operate large data centers, and people who require their data to be hosted buy or lease storage capacity from them.

Cloud Backup

According to Wikipedia, Cloud Backup is a remote, online, or managed backup service, sometimes marketed as cloud backup, is a service that provides users with a system for the backup, storage, and recovery of computer files. Online backup providers are companies that provide this type of service to end users (or clients). Such backup services are considered a form of cloud computing.

Online backup systems are typically built around a client software program that runs on a schedule, typically once a day, and usually at night while computers aren’t in use. This program typically collects, compresses, encrypts, and transfers the data to the remote backup service provider’s servers or off-site hardware.

Do these sound similar?

They might but there are some common differences:

Cloud Storage

Cloud backup

Pay per action pricing Monthly Fee
Commodity low grade infrastructure Enterprise class infrastructure
No replication of data Replication of Data
Typically not stored locally but spread around Typically stored together, locally
Slow cumbersome restores Fast streamlined restores due to being part of a unified solution
No Compliance regulations Often required to adhere to substantial security requirements and have facilities meet SSAE 16 audit requirements
Simple file upload only Optimized to support business servers such as SQL, Exchange, etc.
Intended to only store files Built to backup, store and restore dynamically changing data

Business Continuity Solutions or Disaster Recovery Solutions

According to Wikipedia, a Business Continuity Solution is…hmm…It’s not in Wikipedia. I thought everything was in Wikipedia? Well, you’ve just discovered what is so exciting about EverSafe!. It’s not like anything else. It’s an entirely new class of solution that many companies, and even IT professionals have yet to discover. Of course one of our jobs is to get the word out because once people understand EverSafe!, it’s pretty hard to choose a traditional Cloud Storage or Cloud Backup solution as the answer to your company’s Line of Business application protection.

So what’s the differences?

Cloud Storage. Cloud storage is what services like Amazon offers with their EC2 solution. You basically pay to rent their ‘hard drives in the sky’. Perfect if you have a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution or other requirement that is best served with storage off site. However there are ‘dumb’ drives that simply allow you to ‘put’ your data files there and ‘get’ them back.

Cloud Backup or Online Cloud Backup. Business grade Online Cloud Backup is usually a complete solution that includes software being installed on your servers that manages a process of transferring data from your servers to a specialized data center that has software on its end designed to manage the end to end backup and restoration process. It’s a much more complex development process to create this than just Cloud Storage and requires much more secure data centers with higher grade quality equipment due to the important and sensitive nature of the data being protected.

Think of your home computer backup needs. If you just bought a cheap external drive, you can copy your files there to back them up, and copy them back to restore them. However, that’s dramatically different from what a backup application like Acronis or ShadowProtect does. These software suites not only copy the data from your main hard drive to the external drive, but then efficiently keep track of new changes and ensure you are backing everything up, handles automatic scheduling, keeps prior versions easily accessible, compresses and de-duplicates your data, and makes sure you can easily restore files or an entire machine from scratch.

Business Disaster Recovery Solutions powered by EverSafe!. EverSafe! combines everything that Internet Based Cloud Data Backup offers and goes so much further.  It is a Hybrid Cloud solution. This means that your servers are backed up locally to a physical appliance that usually sits next to your servers. This means you can backup enormous amounts of data extremely quickly and that data is extremely recent so that if your server crashed, your last backup is usually less than 30 minutes old. EverSafe! can even backup as often as every 5 minutes with each backup being a completely bootable clone of your server (but only taking up a fraction of the space needed)

The Hybrid means that not only is it a total local backup solution, but it then automatically uploads backup data to an SSAE 16 secured data center and in turn that data center sends another copy to a similar center on the other coast so if a large regional problem occurred you still have your data safe. All of this movement is done via SSL and 256bit AES encryption for security. The data in the EverSafe! appliance and data centers is actually far more secure than when it is sitting on your own servers as almost no servers have this level of physical and technical security.

The Biggest Difference

The biggest difference between EverSafe! and any other type of mere ‘backup solution’, be it onsite, in the cloud or even ‘hybrid’ is the ability for both the Appliance and the cloud to actually run copies of your servers and be setup to easily fail over and back.

If your server suffered a motherboard failure, you would have to wait for a technician to come out, diagnose the problem, and then replace the motherboard. If the server was out of warranty or if the technician didn’t have a replacement with him you might have to easily wait two weeks for a replacement motherboard or server to arrive. Then more days for a technician to arrive, time for the installation, and then if it was new hardware, you would have to reinstall the operating system, your applications, anti-virus, settings, patches, data etc, from your backups. If your backups were in the cloud via a low cost backup vendor, it can take days or weeks to pull your files down via the Internet due to how slow it is compared to local restoration times.. From time to going down to being back up optimistically could be a day to 2 weeks or longer.

With EverSafe! you can fail over to the appliance and be running again in as little as 5 minutes. Then you can take your time in a non-rushed way to address your server problems and fail back to your new server at a time that’s convenient for you and not disruptive to your company.

Analysts say the average small to mid-size company loses at least $25,000/day of server downtime. Even in your best case scenario of being down just one day, EverSafe! on average more than pays for itself in six months. If you had a week or two of downtime, it could literally save your company and at a minimum pay for it’s costs for a decade or longer.

If your building were hit by an extended power outage, fire, flood, or even a simple busted sprinkler head, all of your servers and equipment could be knocked out for weeks or longer. With EverSafe! you can be brought back online in the cloud in as quickly as ½ hour and can operate that way until your facilities are back on line. Then, unlike low cost cloud backup vendors, we will overnight you your data, or even a completely new appliance (if yours was damaged) so you can rapidly restore. Typically we would coordinate this so you would then restore after hours and your staff again would see little to no downtime.

In addition, unlike other solutions, EverSafe! can give you the peace of mind that your backups are being tested automatically on a daily basis to ensure your stand by copies are ready to come online by emailing you an image of the login screen to ensure your backed up machines are fully bootable.

Summary

So in the end, its almost a ‘no brainer.’ Why would you settle for merely keeping your data in the cloud when for very little more, you can be ensured not only is your data protected, but your ability to continue operating with no downtime is just a click away?

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