“The cloud” is no longer a tech buzzword—it’s an established best practice for businesses large and small. According to RightScale’s 2019 State of the Cloud report, 94 percent of organizations now use cloud computing in some form or fashion.
By migrating their computing resources to remote servers, companies who use cloud computing free themselves of the obligation to manage their own physical servers or run software on their own machines. Instead, data, applications, and infrastructure are all provisioned to users over the Internet, lowering IT expenses and overhead.
Cloud backups, in particular, have emerged as a savvy business strategy. By protecting valuable enterprise data and ensuring business continuity, cloud backups play an indispensable role for thousands of organizations.
If you’re wondering “What are cloud backups?” or “Why should I use cloud backups?”, this article is for you. We’ll go over everything you need to know, including what cloud backups are and the benefits of cloud backups.
What Are Cloud Backups?
It’s never a bad idea to back up your enterprise data, preferably on multiple servers and in multiple locations. The more redundancy you build into your IT operations, the better chance you have at quickly recovering from disaster and maintaining business continuity.
Cloud backups are copies of files or databases that are sent to a secondary location “in the cloud,” protecting them from failures and catastrophes. In the event that data or equipment are damaged or destroyed, you can restore the previous state of your files and databases using these backups, getting back on track with minimal disruption.
Providers of cloud backup services offer users a secure interface that allows them to access and transfer files to and from cloud storage. Data is always encrypted both in transit and at rest, protecting it if it falls into the wrong hands.
There are three main options for cloud backup solutions (and for cloud computing in general): public, private, and hybrid.
- Public cloud backups involve storing your data on a third-party remote server and accessing it over the Internet. The cloud provider, who owns this server, is responsible for all management and maintenance tasks.
- Private cloud backups involve storing your data on a server that is designated exclusively for your use. Note that the private cloud is not location-dependent: this server may be located in your own data center, or hosted remotely by a third-party private cloud provider.
- Hybrid cloud backups involve a custom mixture of both the public and private cloud, giving you more control and flexibility. You might back up less sensitive or less important data to the public cloud, for example, while assigning business-critical backups to the private cloud.
In contrast with cloud backups, on-premise backups involve storing your data on servers that you own and that are physically located within your place of operations. Many businesses also opt for a hybrid solution, in which some data is stored in the cloud and other data on-premises.
5 Benefits of Cloud Backups
1. Lower costs
Every organization has its own needs and objectives, and there are certain situations where on-premise backups are cheaper than the cloud. Before switching from on-premise to cloud backups, it’s important to do a detailed cost-benefit analysis of your options to verify that the cloud is the right choice.
Still, most businesses agree that in general, cloud storage is less expensive than its on-premise equivalent. This is partly because cloud storage uses a different pricing model than on-premise storage:
- With on-premise storage, organizations make a large upfront purchase (the server), while also paying for the cost of installation. Servers are usually upgraded every 3 to 5 years. Beyond the cost of ongoing support and maintenance, however, businesses do not have to spend any more money in between server replacements. This is known as a capital expenditure (CapEx).
- With cloud storage, organizations pay a recurring monthly or annual fee in order to keep using the provider’s services. This fee may incorporate factors such as storage capacity, bandwidth, and number of users. Support and maintenance are the provider’s responsibility, and occur behind the scenes at no extra cost. This is known as an operating expenditure (OpEx).
Backing up data in the cloud also saves you the cost and trouble of doing support and maintenance yourself. There’s no need to maintain a large internal IT team; instead, you can streamline your IT operations by passing these obligations to the cloud provider.
Moving backups to the cloud therefore lets your IT team can focus less on tedious support and maintenance tasks, and more on generating value for your core business activities.
2. Better scalability
Due to the CapEx vs. OpEx debate discussed above, making your on-premise backup server scalable can be a challenge. If you run out of storage space with your on-premise backup solution, you have little choice besides purchasing a new server. However, this option is both costly and wasteful, paying for additional storage space that you may not ever use.
The cloud, on the other hand, has scalability as a founding principle. Cloud resources such as storage are virtualized, so you can provision exactly the amount of space that you require for your backups. This incremental, as-needed approach makes the cloud more cost-effective and flexible than on-premise offerings.
3. Improved security
It’s easy to believe that on-premise backups are more secure, due to their closer physical proximity. While understandable, this feeling of safety is a peculiarity of human psychology that largely doesn’t play out in the real world.
First, making backups in the cloud helps prevent malicious actors and insider threats from breaching your physical defenses, tampering with your data. Public cloud providers have strict physical security measures at their data centers that prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the premises.
Second, the reputation and business model of these providers depends on ensuring the security of your data. Public cloud providers employ some of the world’s top security experts and developers in order to remain on the cutting edge of cloud security.
The security of your on-premise backups, meanwhile, lies entirely with you—and you likely don’t have access to the same resources and expertise as these tech titans.
Most businesses have come to agree with the perception that the cloud has better security than on-premise servers. In a survey of IT professionals at medium and large enterprises, 64 percent agreed that cloud infrastructure is more secure than legacy on-premise systems.
4. Disaster prevention and recovery
Disasters such as fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, and more can wreak havoc on the unprepared organization. According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a natural disaster.
Yet natural disasters are just one type of disaster that can befall your IT infrastructure. Cyberattacks, employee accidents, and power outages can take your business out of commission for hours or days. As a result, you’ll lose valuable productivity and harm your customer relationships.
Cloud backups prevent both natural and man-made disasters by duplicating your data in a remote location. Even if your on-premise servers suffer physical damage and destruction, your data remains secure in the cloud, ready to be restored as soon as possible.
5. Malware protection
Backing up your files and data to the cloud is especially effective against malware attacks such as ransomware, which can bring your business shuddering to a halt.
Ransomware is malicious software that prevents users from accessing the files and applications on their computers. The software extorts users to pay a “ransom” in order to unlock their machine within a narrow time window, or else they will lose access forever. Attacks such as the 2017 WannaCry cryptoworm, which cost businesses around the world an estimated $4 billion, underline the gravity of the ransomware threat.
The good news is that cloud backups allow you to sidestep ransomware concerns entirely. Assuming you make backups at regular intervals, machines that are infected with ransomware can be restored to the most recent ransomware-free backup, with little or no disruption to your operations.
Cloud backups have advantages over legacy on-premise systems such as cost and scalability—but the benefits don’t end there. As an essential part of any cybersecurity toolbox, cloud backups enable you to restore your business operations quickly and effectively after a disaster or malware attack.
If you’re considering a cloud backup service for your organization, get in touch with the NetDepot team to schedule a consultation. No matter what your business requirements, we offer a variety of cloud, managed, and dedicated server options that fit your needs.