Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Create Your Own Cloud Backup Service

Whether you are a service provider, software vendor, IT consultant or a small company wanting to start your own cloud backup service, the process is not always an easy one. Backing up data is not a small task and starting a backup service can be very complex. There are many services in the market claiming to be number one, but how do you choose the right one? Before you start this venture you should consider the following aspects; there are many tricks in this business, so you must know exactly what you are doing and how to choose the right solution for you. First you will need to decide on a cloud backup solution provider, there are many in the market, each offering a variety of solutions and technologies.

One of the initial steps should be deciding where you would like to store your data. You can break this option down into three categories:

1- Start your own data center: This can prove to be costly, requires a lot of bandwidth, and demands management of hardware and replicating the backups among a number of locations. This direction will require a large investment of time and money. It is not recommended unless you have a large, experienced team and a lot of finance.

2- Trust the solution provider's storage facility: This can sometimes require a lot of unknowns; it usually contains RAID 5 or RAID 6 disks. It is impossible to be 100% sure about how your data will be treated; will it be stored on an offsite location in case a natural disaster hit the facility? Service providers can sometimes use a public cloud infrastructure such as Amazon S3, Rackspace, or Microsoft Azura, this is a better solution since it provides a lot more safety and better treatment of the data.

3- Public cloud location: If the solution provider permits this, it is the best option. You can choose to use a top class public, pure cloud infrastructure such as Amazon S3 which will eliminate the need to invest in costly hardware and bandwidth. They will take the hassle and stress out of the cloud by automatically handling the replication of data throughout several locations and controlling and managing everything. Many come backed with an SLA (service level agreement) which will guarantee 99.9999% uptime and data safety.

Many backup solutions are not in fact that; a real cloud solution is a lot more than just uploading files to the cloud. A real cloud backup solution should be managed completely from the cloud and offer an ease of mind when it comes to your customers. It should work without intervention so that you are not constantly hassled with problems such as speed issues and bugs.

Things to look for when you select your solution:

- Complete cloud management is a must. You should be able to manage, control, and handle everything straight from the cloud.

- Speed is one of the major things to look for in a backup solution. Many well known products have many features but are very slow. Read comparisons and benchmarks to make sure you are getting a feature rich yet fast solution. It usually helps to look for a variety of performance modes that are used to help speed up the backup and restore process.

- The software should run silently in the background with no manual settings and no performance impact.

- Deployment and installation should be done from the cloud in as few steps as possible. NEVER look at a solution that requires manually installing and defining jobs on individual computers.

- One of the benefits of the cloud is mobility. The solution you choose should integrate with all major mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, etc)

- Restore is just as crucial in a backup solution as the backup itself. Make sure there are a variety of restore options that include way more than just dragging and dropping a file off the cloud onto your computer. It should be straight forward, fast, and easy.

- Block level technology is a must when backing up. You do not want a solution that does not support this. Block Level means that large files are broken up into "blocks" and only modified or changed portions are backed up. This saves a lot of time and space.

- Cloud Disaster Recovery is something that is rare to find in a cloud backup solution but it should be a REQUIREMENT! It will help give you the advantage because you can gain more profit by offering it to your customers. It will help them stay completely safe at all times. Make sure that the Cloud Disaster Recovery supports both Real and Global deduplication, otherwise it is worthless.

- Deduplication on different levels will also save a lot of time and space. Deduplication reduces the amount of data throughout your entire client list that is replicated. The backup solution should be intelligent enough to only backup one instance of a file and use pointers to determine who else uses this file.

- Security is crucial when deciding on a solution provider. Make sure to do your research and read white papers produced by the company regarding their security. A white paper is a must because if it does not exist than that usually indicates that security was not a high priority; you will run into many problems in the long run.

- One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is scalability. It should be a requirement so that you are able to expand whenever necessary, so make sure that the solution provider has thought this through and provides for easy expandability and scalability.

It is no secret that the technological world is moving to the cloud. Offering a cloud solution can be a very profitable business but creating one can be complex, scary, and confusing. There are many things to look out for and many players in the market, the key is to do your research and choose wisely after spending a lot of time learning about the different solutions. The key is to plan ahead and not only think of what you need at the moment, but try and predict what problems or concerns may arise in the future.

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