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The cloud computing market is growing at a very rapid pace. As per Gartner prediction the global public cloud services market is expected to grow to $591.8 billion in 2023. Data created and stored on cloud is not free from risk failures as it lives still on hardware which can fail. Storing data on cloud brings a different set of concerns related to onsite backup replications over cloud and secondly redundancy of data created or stored on cloud. Cloud backup based and recovery demands a different kind of strategy to prevent data loss and ensure its safety.
Today we look more in detail at best practices which evolved backup and recovery strategies in and around cloud environments, measures taken to reduce downtime following a failure etc.
What are Recovery Objectives?
Before defining a robust backup and recovery mechanism it is important to first understand what are the recovery objectives we are looking at as without the clear understanding of recovery objectives it is difficult to create an effective cloud backup and recovery strategy. The two metrics are taken into consideration while defining backup and recovery strategy.
- The Recovery Time objective (RTO) – how quickly you want to recover from downtime before it becomes economically non-viable for enterprise?
- Recovery Point Objective (RPO) – What is your resiliency towards data loss and to what extent? 15 minutes, an hour, 24 hours or more. This is required to understand what frequency you should backup your data to minimize loss of data between backup and failures.
Cloud Backup Strategy
Cloud backup strategy lets you create a copy of data to a remote server hosted on cloud. Users choose to backup data to the cloud so as to make it available in the event of disaster or failures. Some of the characteristics of cloud backup are:
- Maintain data backups offsite and choose the desired folders and files for backup onto cloud server
- Scheduling a periodic schedule to run backup tasks
- Cloud backups offer data encryption and more security options
- Assessment of all backup tasks including the ones at any time period performed
- Restoration of individual files and folders that have been backed up from a specific date.
- Cloud storage is scalable and has the ability to store as much data as possible.
- Incorporate incrementation backup strategy to save storage space where only changes to files are recorded
Best Practices to Adopt
Let’s do some deep dive into various aspects or key factors you need to look into to define or formulate an effective cloud backup strategy.
We require backups but how those backups are stored and where they are kept is a crucial decision. If backup of open server is kept in same location , then in the event of failure or disaster both backups’ copies will be lost if calamity occurs. In traditional backup systems , data was stored on physical media and then send off site for safe storage (Other location). In cloud geo redundant locations are provided by cloud providers which can be used to store data in redundant manner so if one geolocation is down data is still accessible from another geolocation.
System and Data Categories: Cloud & Data Volumes
Cloud data storage is cheap as compared to physical storage. An effective cloud strategy includes a different approach for data and systems. It is important to identify what is the criticality of data? Which data can be stored in archival? Which systems need to be run and made up?
- Mirroring of data to a second cloud site for redundancy marked as critical.
- The data which you do not access very often then you can put that onto archival storage.
- Criticality of systems also determine which systems need to run at all times; which one to prioritize while restoration.
Usage of Recovery Cloud
While choosing cloud backup vendors enterprises need to look at complexity requirements of recovery in terms of :
- Does Solution integration feasible to current backup solution
- Ease of solution usage and can it be achieved remotely
- Efficiency of backup transfer and sync
- Vendor uptime strategy
Audit & Security Readiness
While backing up data , its security is paramount. Some of key aspects to be considered while ensuring security of data at all times on backup media be it physical or virtual are:
- Data on backups need to be encrypted both at REST and in Movement / transit
- Backup system compatibility with Single Authentication Markup language (SAML) via Okta, Open Auth (OAuth), Multi factor authentication (MFA) and Two factor authentication (2FA) to ensure only authorized personnel will have access to data and application backed up.
- Backup solutions need to be robust with Role based access and least privilege principle. Backup and restore requests to be limited with ‘IP Allowlisting’ with restrictions
- Intrusion detection, secure backup servers meant for storage, compliance certifications to comply with security standards such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS etc.
- For cloud-based backups certifications such as ISO , cloud security alliance membership, HIPAA and GDPR , BAA provision are required
Backup Strategy & Cloud Backup Solutions Extensibility Testing
Backup and recovery procedures should be tested regularly so as the cloud backup solutions to ensure systems are functioning correctly and you can actually recover data in the event of intrusions / attacks. Full system restore and partial file restore both need to be performed on a regular basis to ensure integrity of backups. To maintain interruption in business operations, it is important to meet Recovery time objectives (RTO) and business continuity.
Cloud backups are an essential aspect of any organization’s protection strategy for business data. Implementation of best cloud backup practices ensure safety and recovery of business data in a consistent and timely manner so as to meet Business continuity and recovery objectives.