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Many businesses opt to use Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), particularly for cloud storage, backup, and disaster recovery, to improve upon their existing storage options while controlling costs. The scalability and flexibility of the cloud has a lot to do with these cost-saving measures; many companies pay very little upfront to access a wide variety of storage options, and scale those options up or down as their demand shifts.
In fact, there are many reasons that IaaS offerings have broad appeal – businesses see the value in low capital investments, paying as they go, anywhere access, and tight security. Unlike many in-house options, using cloud services means that the burden of IT development and upkeep is on the cloud provider, not the primary business. The IT staff at the cloud company take care of the routine and maintenance tasks associated with storage and backup. This allows organizations to focus on other areas within their business services, while still having a reliable way to safeguard their information.
Data Protection Defined
Developing a data protection strategy for your organization primarily means thinking about how your critical data would survive a complete failure of some kind. One of the most important decisions your business can make about your data protection strategy is "what, where, and when." According to State Tech , "While every enterprise has some type of disaster recovery plan, the technology behind those plans is often expensive and unwieldy. Organizations with several disparate locations often have different disaster recovery and business continuity plans and technologies, making management virtually impossible."
There are three cloud services that businesses generally use in data protection strategies:
Storage-as-a-Service (STaaS) is cloud storage that can be used in a data protection strategy much the same as physical storage can. Many businesses are choosing cloud storage as an add-on to their managed backup and disaster recovery (DR) services as a means of simplifying the DR process while streamlining their role in managing their data. Cloud storage means virtualized data storage that can be managed by a provider, freeing their IT services to focus on more important issues within the organization.
Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) is handled in the same way all other "as-a-Service" components operate – a provider offers options for an integrated backup plan for an organization's data. Backups can be managed in many ways, from a fully-managed solution to a more "DIY" option. Some backups require more manual intervention, while others can be fully automated, depending on the available offerings and systems in use.
Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) is a full package offered by an IT organization. It is orchestrated to provide an organization with fully-functioning data and servers in a virtualized environment, in the event of a primary operations failure.
Storage and Restore Options - What does your business need?
There are many factors to consider when storing, backing up, and recovering your data, and when making your disaster recovery and data protection plans. Many outside compliance policies can affect the way your organization stores data, such as HIPPA, EU, financial sector, or other regulations. On top of security regulations, your business has to consider the cost, the amount of downtime you can afford, whether the design can be simple or requires more complex plans, and how much data needs to be recovered.
There are many data policies set by institutions to protect the security of the data. HIPPA sets security laws on protected health information that controls the way the information can be stored and shared, which can affect where backups are stored and recovered. The European Union also has data protection policies in place that affect where and when data can be accessed, which makes data recovery and failover sites an important part of planning. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) also has strict standards for the security controls behind storing customer data. It is important to take all security policies into consideration when developing a data protection strategy.
Downtime can have a big impact on an organization's bottom line, especially if customer data is reliant on sales. For example, any company that sells products online would experience a disruption in revenue when a data system goes down – no data means no sales. Revenue that is highly-dependent on customer data should always have a sound disaster recovery plan in place.
Of course, cost to the organization is always a factor when choosing storage and backup solutions. A big factor in the cost will be the amount of data, and the complexity of the system that backups require. Cloud storage is often a choice in a data protection strategy because it is virtualized, and depending on the implementation, can make data storage less expensive.
The complexity needed in a data protection system depends largely on the requirements of the system. Cloud storage can sometimes help with complexity by providing easier access to backups and sometimes easier access to the systems, which can make figuring out all the details of a data protection strategy less intense.
The volume of data that an organization needs to store has an impact on disaster recovery and data protection as well. Using cloud storage can help, as virtualized storage is easier to increase and decrease depending on the current needs. Companies who operate within a very flexible realm of how much storage they need should consider cloud storage as part of their data protection system.
CenturyLink has several storage solutions to aid you in taking a simple, cloud-based approach to your data protection plan.
Object Storage - For large-scale cloud applications, Object Storage is far more efficient than hierarchical file systems. CenturyLink cloud servers store and manage your files in a highly-scalable, fault-tolerant, distributed datastore. All data is saved using an industry-standard and highly-redundant method. Additionally, data is replicated to an additional data center in the same region (to address security policies) using the same redundant methods. The combination of redundancy and replication yields a robust and consistent object storage solution.
Block Storage - Block Storage solutions provide fixed-sized, raw storage capacity. Each block storage node can be treated as an independent drive and controlled by an external or attached server. The most common examples of block storage are SAN, iSCSI, and local disks. However, IaaS provides highly-available, fault-tolerant, and redundant options that are becoming much more popular given their relatively low cost and ability to avoid the capital expenditure associated with acquiring, building, and maintaining the infrastructure internally. CenturyLink’s approach to cloud storage offers more flexibility in a number of dimensions. Decide what type of storage each scenario requires, and then specify the type of automated DR/BC that’s needed. You aren't tied into a predefined scheme of “small,” “medium,” or “large” instances.
Simple Backup - Data is the lifeblood of any organization — and keeping that data safely backed up and accessible in the event of file corruption is crucial. On top of that, organizations have different data retention policies that govern how long certain types of information should be backed up and where it should be physically hosted. For servers running in the public cloud, Simple Backup offers the ultimate in reliability and convenience. Just point-and-click to create backup policies that meet your requirements, then apply them to servers in the CenturyLink Cloud. From there, Simple Backup does the rest for you – data is automatically backed up in secure object storage and retained according to the policy. Restores are simple too — just click on a “point-in-time” backup event, and the data will be restored automatically within minutes.
Disaster Recovery - Often business-critical applications require clearly defined Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) times. CenturyLink SafeHaven (our customizable Disaster Recovery system) enables protection of critical applications from unexpected unavailability. Additionally, SafeHaven offers advanced features like live failback, live test failover, custom check point intervals, protection groups, and runbook automation.
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