This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.
Cloud-based backups and disaster recovery systems can be a great option for small and midsize businesses, taking the uncertainty out of more conventional IT setups.
For example, cloud-based backup systems are largely automated and require much less manual interaction than traditional tapes — ridding you of the responsibility of regularly changing out a backup tape.
We’ve found that people tend to forget to complete this task.
The good news is that typically with cloud services, if you grow your business and you grow your data, you can grow your offsite storage without having to reinvest in hardware.
Consider that you have someone in an administrative position in your office who’s assigned to change your tape out every day. What happens when that individual gets sick or forgets to do it for a couple of days? That’s a couple of days where your data is not getting backed up and not getting taken offsite. If your server goes down, you lose that work.
Cloud-based backup service providers bill in a variety of ways, but most charge per gigabyte for offsite data storage. As your business grows, your data also grows. Keeping multiple restore points — which allow you to restore to specific periods in time, not just the most recent backup — compounds the growth of offsite storage.
This increases your monthly investment over time, meaning that the total cost of ownership of a backup system tends to be a higher with a cloud-based service.
The good news is that typically with cloud services, if you grow your business and you grow your data, you can grow your offsite storage without having to reinvest in hardware. With a local tape-based system, you would have to buy a whole new system or buy another set of tapes to increase your capacity.
Some businesses also want to make their backup costs more of an operational expense as opposed to a capital expense. When you buy your own backup system, that’s a pretty big capital expense. With a cloud service, you sidestep this upfront investment.
Be prepared for server crash
On the disaster recovery side, a cloud-based system can be a great option, especially for e-commerce businesses or businesses with little to no tolerance for downtime. Translation: If your server goes down and you can’t access your emails and files, how long can you go before this affects your business?
With a first-rate cloud-based service that offers legitimate disaster recovery services, if your system goes offline for any reason, then your disaster recovery system can be capable of booting up a backup copy of that system. It can be accessed within minutes of the service interruption so that you can continue operations in a normal fashion while your primary system is being recovered.
When switching to cloud-based disaster recovery keep in mind a few caveats:
- Keep it local. You want to have a personal relationship with the people who host your disaster recovery environment, and you need to be able to trust them. Don’t farm this out to some faceless entity that is on the other side of the continent or world.
- Demand that your provider perform regular test recovery of your systems. If they can’t prove that it’s recoverable, the system is useless.
- Make sure that everyone knows who owns your data: You. Make your provider commit upfront to a plan for returning all of your data to you in the event that you terminate your relationship with them.