Businesses need to extract insights from the data they collect. To do this, they must first capture all of the data that they specify to have value. They then need to store it somewhere for safe keeping so it can available when they are ready to use it. In short, companies need backup solutions. Traditionally, backup meant loading vital business data onto a disc, tape or drive and holding it on-location for when the time came when they would need to use it. Much of this is still true today.
Companies still need their most important data as it is the lifeblood of any modern organization. However, the way in which companies are storing data has drastically changed. On-premise backup solutions have typically been considered safe and reliable, and once companies invested in the infrastructure to backup their data on-site, the mentality became “set it and forget it.”
With the explosion of cloud platforms in recent years, the on-premise backup model has been dealt a big blow, and as the technology that supports cloud infrastructure improves (and gets cheaper), we will likely witness a mass exodus to that medium in the future. And since there is no limit to the amount of data that can be stored in the cloud, businesses will have no trouble scaling. Backing up in the cloud also enhances things like disaster recovery too, since using a cloud backup option is a service and solution providers hold multiple copies of your data off-site.
I recently busted out my journalistic megaphone to ask some of the smartest minds in IT a simple but daunting question: Is the cloud an on-premise backup killer? Here were their responses:
Matt Richards, Vice President of products at ownCloud: “Fundamentally, the cloud allows an organization to quickly implement a full-featured solution for very specific use cases, usually with incredibly simple tools – and it scales very quickly. And, of course, it can help cover offsite backup requirements without the complexity of contracting with a rented data center, procuring hardware, etc.”
Arindam Ray Chaudhury, Global Head of Delivery and Technology at AgreeYa Solutions: “Cloud storage offers many benefits over traditional methods. Instead of saving your files onto your PC, or backing up to an external drive, you save them online in the cloud. By backing up these files to the cloud, they’re saved in a secure location. Even if your local storage is lost, damaged or stolen, you will still be able to access your original files from a different device.
With a file saved to the cloud, you can typically share it directly with others via a link or an email invitation. In some cases, you can even edit documents online in the cloud without having to download them back to your device and open them in a program first. Thus, cloud storage offers not only the capability to store more information, but also allows for easier collaboration, more security, and easier access to your data.”
Paul Kubler, Digital Forensic Examiner at LIFARS: “[On-premise] is not dead, but it is no longer used for major backups, for plenty of reasons, especially in disaster recovery. Right now, on-premise backups are primarily for important documents or users, and maybe a tape system if they have one. Off-site is preferable for many companies as an affordable, redundant, and easy to manage solution provided by cloud storage companies. It is seamless and can do most things companies need. As long as the data is safe and has quick upload or access speeds, it’ll be a popular storage medium. This is especially true for the overworked IT staff who may be tasked with executing it. The cloud gives them all the features and services with none of the headaches.”
Marc Weaver, Founder at databasable: “Financial institutions have historically used tape backups as the off-site method of choice due to reliability and cost. However, getting a backup off tape can be a painful process. All too often people want a backup restored from a few weeks or even months back. For most businesses this means a laborious process of working out the date and time of the backup, working out which tape that backup lives on, recalling the tape from the tape storage facility, loading the tape, recovering the backup, and restoring the data. This involves several people and can take hours or even days. And when the requester realizes that the data they were looking for isn’t in the backup, you have to start the entire process again.”
Bill Carey, Vice President of Marketing at GoodSync: “Cloud solutions offer two main benefits: the data is moved offsite (and many times multiple copies of the data are included with the backup service), and the company does not need to make an upfront investment in hardware.”
Nilesh Londhe, Founder at Cloud Genius: “On-premise backup might look like it’s almost dead given that storage price per gigabyte has been dramatically declining for some time, and network bandwidth is generally improving overall.”
To add to Nilesh’s point, monthly service prices and slower recovery times were two of the main deterrence to backing up in the cloud. However, those have been largely put to rest. In general, especially for small and medium-sized companies, using cloud backup services is just so much easier than purchasing hardware and maintaining it on a daily basis. By using cloud storage, businesses can focus more on scaling and less on daily backup checks. Backing up to the cloud is also more synergistic with IT disaster recovery solutions, and if a hurricane, hacker, or hardware malfunction should strike, you can be sure your data is safe in multiple far-away locations with your backup provider.
Outside of businesses that must use on-premise backup solutions due to industry compliance or government regulation, such as those in the healthcare field, cloud backup is certainly the storage medium of the future. According to a study by Marketsandmarkets, the total cloud storage market is expected to reach $46.8 billion by 2018, showing real industry growth amongst organizations who are looking to sign on to newer technologies.
Until the last company ditches their backup tapes and hard disks for storage in the cloud, on-premise will hang around. Currently, many industry analysts will tell you that hybrid solutions are the most comprehensive, and while that may be true at this moment, cloud storage is so obviously the medium of the future. Adopting now can help businesses focus on more important immediate issues. On-premise backup is not dead, but the writing is certainly on the wall, or should I say gravestone.