Backups. They are arguably the least glamorous task for any IT team. And yet, they are also one of the most critical. In fact, according to Gartner, 43% of companies go immediately out of business after a “major loss” of computer records. Even worse, only 6% of companies survive longer than two years after a significant data loss.
Software as a Service (SaaS) applications have become “cloud backup applications”, and are increasingly popular. According to a survey of enterprise customers by Aberdeen Group, around 1/2 of firms are using the cloud for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and email (with Exchange making up 19%). The high adoption rate reflects software manufacturer’s focus on recurring monthly revenue models versus the older sales models where software was purchased with yearly support or maintenance fees. By hosting their applications, software vendors such as Microsoft CRM and Salesforce.com create higher profit margins and create tighter linkage to the end user. This model will eventually diminish, and disintermediate the importance of trusted consultants and IT resellers which account for approximately 30% of the traditional cost of IT.
Like many of you, I’ve viewed the cloud computing backup hype with rolling eyes. Tonight I viewed a presentation by Amazon S3 executive that, while 45 minutes long, I felt was worth sharing. It convinced me the cloud computing backup is coming soon… and it may be something you want to watch in quiet time…
In reality, most hard disks seldom see operating temperatures below the chill of a server room or beyond the warmth of rack space, and most disks will not commit an URE that crashes a RAID-5 rebuild. While it is agreed that better parity schemes exist, the exception is not the rule. My customer could have retained cold storage data to individual disks via removable drives, with no redundancy at all. In fact, most organizations already use a single removable disk or cloud container for their nightly backup routine. My customer choose a special backup appliance that fits three disks into a single cartridge, further protecting archived data and proving RAID-5 still has business applications.
As the size of information stored in the cloud grows increasingly larger, IT managers must plan on getting data out of the cloud when it’s critically needed during disaster recovery. For some businesses, the cloud is a place to deposit a second copy of data already retained locally. For others the cloud is primary storage, where unique data is created and modified. Problems arise in both cases: when local data is lost due to fire, flood, or theft, when the data is too large for a timely transfer across limited Internet bandwidth, or when a cloud provider shuts down. This all begs the question: is redundant data in place?