Of all backup strategies that have evolved over the years, cloud based backup promises to fulfill the criteria of large storage space and anytime demand restores. Before we launch into the benefits of the cloud as a backup mechanism, it would be worthwhile to consider how the initial emphasis on tape morphed into a disk based process and finally, the latest trend of using the cloud for backup. When tapes were the norm, it was widely considered that among all the options, they presented the cost effective and eases of use facilities that overrode other considerations like taking frequent backups and downtime because of the lengthy process. Though the tapes as a backup had their drawbacks, the main consideration was that there was no alternative or what management experts refer to as the TINA factor.
With the passage of time, disks began to emerge as serious contenders in the race to provide a safe and reliable backup mechanism. The main reason why the disks emerged strong contenders was that they were ease to store and were digital in nature which meant that analog backups on tape that were unreliable could be avoided. Further, the disks as a backup mechanism provided users with the optional benefit of reducing downtimes that were the bane of the tape backups. To consider how this works, one need to look at the fact that using tapes one had to wait for greater periods to ensure that the data was restored. With disks, reading and writing of data was that much easier to manage and to deliver the promise of reduced downtimes.
The latest trend towards using the cloud as a backup mechanism has its roots in the wide acceptability of having a storage mechanism that would not only ease the burden of frequent backups but also provide scalability and easier access anytime and every time. This dual advantage of having a storage mechanism that is more reliable and allows for large amount of data to be stored as well as giving the benefit of having anytime and every time storage and restore meant that the option of using cloud for backup gained traction. The point here is that unlike tape backups that need a physical port and where the backups have to be scheduled at certain intervals of time, the cloud as a backup mechanism guarantees 24/7 access for backups and retrieval. This is the major advantage that the cloud has as an alternative to the tape backup mechanism.
There are other reasons for the growing popularity of using the cloud as a backup mechanism. These include lesser downtimes that are the case with the tapes as a backup since porting to and from the tape is a tedious activity. Moreover, the data that is stored on the cloud can be retrieved with the system running which means that the online applications need not be shutdown while the backup is in progress. To elaborate, tape backups and disk backups are done when the system is taken offline for the backup to happen. Since the physical devices often have to be disconnected and reconnected, backups were scheduled during the weekends. However, with the cloud as a backup mechanism, the downtimes are reduced further and indeed, there is an option to take and restore the backup while the users continue with their work.
Coming to the price advantage that cloud based backups have, it is worthwhile to consider that with the cloud as an option, and the pricing aspect is bundled along with the other services. So, there is no need to have separate provisions for tapes and storage devices. This reduces the cost of service from the users of the enterprise leading to humungous cost savings. Indeed, if not for anything else, just this factor alone is enough to convince the CIO’s of using the cloud as a backup mechanism. Which brings us to the last point, i.e. that the amount of data that is being generated by enterprises has grown so large that physical storage devices are no longer sufficient to ensure that the data remains safe and secure. On the other hand, using the cloud, one can port any amount of data which by itself is a huge benefit that this mechanism offers the users.
Finally, with more and more enterprises shifting to the cloud, it is high time for all users to migrate to the cloud because of the reasons that have been mentioned above. In fact, surveys have shown that many CIO’s are actively considering adding the cloud option to their portfolio of services. It remains to be seen as to how far the trend of the cloud as a backup mechanism continues with more options being added.
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