Many backup technologies offer excellent on-premise protection for a massive range of applications and hardware deployments. Historically, a backup environment would have a backup server pulling data from a live environment moving it onto disk, tape or a combination of the two at the same site or across the WAN to another site. This design works for the most part but has its limitations.
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Should an organisation have a distributed environment, an on-premise solution may be required for each site. In this case, centralised management may be difficult, increasing management overhead and potentially necessitating travel between sites. If an organisation has a single site, a method of offsiting backup data is required. If this process is a manual one, the potential for human error enters the equation. Alternatively if a second application/service is used to offsite backup data, the management overhead and cost is increased, potentially even doubled. Lastly, if an organisation, like many today, faces consistent data growth, an existing solution may require regular upgrading / replacing to allow more backup data to be stored. For these reasons, many organisations now naturally look to the cloud for their backup and disaster recovery.
Why wouldn’t I use an existing/well-known backup technology?
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We’ve seen many of the classic LAN/WAN-designed backup products add ‘cloud connect’ functionality to their technology in recent times but there remain fundamental design differences between cloud-based backup technologies and their “designed for on-premise first” counterparts. On-premise solutions were designed with the assumption that the data being protected resides in the same location as the primary target for backups and as such are significantly less optimised for use over public networks. Whilst work has been done to retrofit them for cloud usage, fundamental differences remain between products designed for the cloud and those designed for the data centre. These differences are typical most obvious in the areas of security / encryption and bandwidth usage.
An agent-based approach
The advantage of an agent-based approach is that, in the unlikely event of a client failing, it fails in isolation to the rest of the environment. The agent based approach also allows you to benefit from distributed processing, resulting in faster, more efficient backups. Multiple, lightweight clients can be configured in a matter of minutes and then administered centrally.
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The advantages of an agent-based approach include:
Robustness, Flexibility, Efficiency, Performance and Cost
Robustness – In the unlikely event of a client failing, it fails in isolation to the rest of the environment.
Flexibility – Agent-based technology enables customers to backup any device from anywhere and restore to anywhere, whether that device is physical/virtual/a server/laptop/SAN or NAS, next to the data centre or on the other side of the planet without the requirement to implement a backup server on that location’s LAN.
Efficiency – Protecting large volumes of data over limited bandwidth is the biggest challenge with cloud backup, an incremental forever agent-based backup negates the requirement to move unnecessary changed data from the virtual host offsite e.g. page file, this can reduce the data volume sent by up to 70%.
Performance – The agent-based approach also allows you to benefit from distributed processing, resulting in faster, more efficient backups. Multiple, lightweight clients can be configured in a matter of minutes.
Cost – Most cloud backup services are priced on data stored after de-duplication and compression. The more efficient agent-based approach enables customers to benefit from more capacity for their money.
In summary, if you have a requirement for cloud backup, it would be worthwhile reviewing technologies developed specifically for cloud backup rather than continuing with a solution that has been retrofitted to enable cloud support.