In a recent story for Storage magazine, ESG analyst Lauren Whitehouse outlines the points that customers need to consider when determining whether cloud data backup makes sense for them. If you're a VAR, MSP or systems integrator, there's a good chance you're examining the same issue, determining whether it makes sense for you to get involved with cloud-based backup.
The answer to that question from my point of view is a definite yes. And in the past, I've discussed various ways that you can get involved, either hosting your own cloud services or helping customers implement cloud storage via an appliance-based approach from the likes of Axcient, Nirvanix or Iron Mountain.
But there are other possible inroads, beyond the idea of simply reselling cloud backup services. The first one to consider springs up from SMB use of cloud data backup. At many small companies, users have an agent installed on their laptop or desktop, and all or part of their system gets backed up to an Internet-based backup service. Those individual users won't interest you, but the company providing the service to them should. By consolidating thousands of users that you would never speak with into one business, service providers present a solid opportunity to you. Those service providers should be found, and storage should be sold to them.
How do you find those providers? That's easy -- do a Google search for them. They're out in front trying to get the attention of small-business customers. Find out where they're based and go after them. And don't worry that there are too few of these companies out there; there are well over 100 cloud data backup providers of one type or another, and they all need cost-effective, reliable storage. Don't assume because they're selling to their customers by the gigabyte that these companies won't spend good money on quality storage solutions. They can and will. You need to be able to cost-justify everything, but they will spend for quality.
Another alternative: If you have a customer that does not want to replace their backup application (a requirement of the appliance-based approach) but wants to vault data to the cloud, using deduplication appliances like those from Data Domain, Nexsan or Quantum reduces WAN bandwidth requirements by sending only the changed blocks of a backup to the DR site. While companies that have the facilities will use their own WAN connections, those that don't can leverage the Internet to send that data via the cloud to a recovery service provider.
Or, for customers that are candidates for vaulting data to the cloud but don't have their own DR site or don't think it's reliable, companies like Simply Continuous provide a hosting service to house deduplication targets This means that the provider will host an appliance specifically for that client or can set it up to have multiple organizations' backups securely stored on a single device.
Either scenario gives the customer the ability to electronically vault and, more importantly, recover their data. You can work with the provider to monitor and manage the backup operations, or you can allow the customer to run the process themselves. Some providers will even allow for a local recovery in the event of a disaster. Assuming the provider is local enough to the customer to make this practical, the customer can set up shop right in the provider's facility and begin to recover data.
Here is Lauren Whitehouse's story on cloud data backup:
Is cloud data backup service right for your organization?
Assessing your organization's challenges, abilities and assets will help to determine if deploying a cloud-based data backup strategy is a better alternative than relying on an on-site data backup and recovery strategy. Here's what to consider when trying deciding if cloud backup is right for your organization:
Budget. Do you know what your current costs are for data protection? Have you evaluated staff costs to determine if eliminating any on-premises infrastructure, introducing automation or adopting more-advanced technology, would alleviate issues? A comparison of all capital and operational expenses for on-premises technology over three years vs. the operational expenses for cloud-based backup over three years may yield surprises.
Read the rest of Lauren's story about cloud data backup.
About the author
George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the United States, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, George was chief technology officer at one of the nation's largest storage integrators, where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.