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Hybrid Cloud Blog


In the previous blog post, A tour of Operations Management Suite: Backup, we discussed how more and more organizations are turning to the cloud to address the rising demands facing modern IT and how it is increasingly clear that new paradigms for data protection will be required for hybrid environments.

Cloud has been the key enabler in the transformation of modern IT, delivering powerful tools to empower agile and rapid innovation while providing a solid foundation for security and reliability. As organizations plan to transform their data protection solutions to take advantage of cloud, many existing solutions in the data protection domain have been positioned as possible options. However, due to their origins, most existing data protection solutions, whether traditional or modern, approach cloud in one of two ways:

  • Cloud as a storage target OR
  • Cloud as another data center

Neither of these approaches is designed from the cloud up, and as a result present a variety of potential challenges. In the first approach, treating cloud resources as a dumb storage target does a disservice to the vast potential of the data in the cloud. In spite of the power of the cloud, restores are often complex in such scenarios, hindered not only by the egress costs most public clouds levy on data leaving the cloud, but also by the lack of any intelligence in the cloud. Although this approach adds cloud to the mix, it does nothing to prevent infrastructure and solution sprawl on-premises. The simplicity and efficiency of the cloud model don’t translate to the solution.

The second approach, treating cloud as another data center for data protection is equally fraught with problems. In this scenario, customers often have to run existing backup software on a cloud IaaS layer. Needless to say, this must be run almost continuously. Doing so not only uses additional compute IaaS resources, but also adds management complexity by giving customers yet another VM to manage, patch and keep up to date. Furthermore, customers often have to deal with limitations imposed on the cloud IaaS itself. For instance, Azure allows a maximum of 32TB per VM which may not meet the needs of large backup software. In order to solve this, customers often have to run multiple VMs, effectively nullifying most advantages they sought to derive by moving to the cloud.

How can you get the real benefits of cloud in a data protection solution? The answer is to design from the cloud up, rethinking the old models. The backup technologies in System Center and Operations Management suite are built from the cloud up to deliver the value that you expect from the cloud: a sharp reduction in costs and complexity while improving agility, reliability and security.

The following diagram illustrates architecture for OMS Backup solution at a high level:

Cloud-First-Architecture_v2

There are several unique advantages to a cloud-first enterprise backup solution:

Reduced time to value

Existing System Center customers will find that leveraging OMS Backup requires just a few clicks. Customers who are new to System Center may need to set up operational recovery infrastructure on-premises using System Center Data Protection Manager. They will still find that OMS Backup offers superior time to value compared to most other solutions. This stems from the fact that a major portion of the solution is delivered as a service from the cloud.

Minimal maintenance

With a cloud-first backup solution delivered as a service from the cloud, the backup infrastructure that customers need to maintain is vastly reduced. Furthermore, if customers choose to leverage cloud for most of the long term retention requirements, then they can begin to eliminate tape and related costs on-premises. This usually translates to IT working on higher value tasks as opposed to keeping legacy systems such as tape backups alive.

Minimal up-front costs

With the OMS backup solution, only license costs are paid up-front. Thus most of the long term retention costs that stem from storage are pay-as-you-go. Leveraging cloud-first enterprise backup also means eliminating or reducing a large amount of on-premises costs and leveraging them only for operational recovery.

Simplified licensing

Using cloud as either a storage target or as another data center usually means leveraging at least two vendors: one cloud vendor and one backup software vendor. Unlike such solutions, the OMS backup solution greatly simplifies licensing and use. It also reduces complexity by reducing the number of vendors that customers have to deal with.

Cost effective long-term retention

The OMS Backup solution is designed to be extremely cost effective for long term retention. License fee is computed on front end storage and backend storage is at pay-as-you-go on cost-effective Azure Blob Storage. There are no egress charges associated with restores.

Intelligent restores

A key advantage of the cloud-first approach is the ability to leverage the intelligence in the cloud when doing restores. For example, customers can retrieve individual items of interest when doing restores from the cloud as opposed to having to bring down an entire archive and then open it on-premises.

Consistent security

One of the traditional concerns with cloud-backups is the degree of security it provides for stored data, especially as this data is stored for long-term retention. By implementing the secure HTTPS protocol for any transmission of data over the network as well as encrypting the data at the source, and storing encryption-key at the source and only the encrypted data on the cloud, a cloud-first backup approach ensures the customer is in complete control of access of organizational data.

In the next week or so, we’ll explore how enterprises can leverage these solutions to replace legacy backup solutions such as tape backups and how they can leverage cloud protection for their remote and branch offices. Check back soon.

To hear from our experts, register for the upcoming webinar, How a cloud-first approach can transform enterprise backup, on Tuesday, May 24 at 10:00 am PDT.