Backup on Cloud

Get your data backed up on cloud

There are various types of backup practise and terminologies that are commonly used on-premises as well as on cloud, considering data type, size ,modes and various other parameters. A detailed discussion on what needs to be backed up, where to back up and how  it should be done will help to understand the critical components of forming an effective backup strategy in today’s hybrid environments.

Let’s look at the following: 

  • On-premises vs Cloud backup
  • Cloud-to-cloud backup – benefits
  • Snapshot backup and its use in backup technologies
  • Incremental Backup vs Full Backups
  • Versioning
  • RPO vs RTO
  • Backup Retention Policies

All of the above-listed terms and technology are important in the realm of data protection, focusing on backups. Understanding each of these items is important to getting a good overall picture of how today’s backup solutions need to be designed and engineered for various use cases.

On-premises vs Cloud Backup

As technology has progressed, on-premises backups have got much better in both efficiency and advanced features. On-premises backup technology today is able to interact with today’s modern virtualization platforms and perform application-aware backups that interact with technologies such as Microsoft’s volume shadow copy service. Linux backups are able to trigger pre and postscript to allow application aware backups. This allows getting snapshots of technologies such as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft Active Directory Domain Services consistent. Cloud backups are much less in practice by organizations who are coming from traditional on-premises environments, backup methodologies, and toolsets. Cloud backups may typically not involve using your own hardware such as a dedicated backup server with data protection software installed. It may involve third-party solutions that provide Backup-as-a-Service functionality.  

Key capabilities to consider when choosing a cloud backup solution 

  • Automatic backups multiple times a day
  • Effective Versioning
  • Secure backups – Encrypted both in-flight and at-rest
  • Can store backups outside of the environment being protected
  • Multi-cloud interoperability with storing data
  • Retention control – multiple or unlimited restore points 

Cloud backups and data protection have become vitally important for organizations today who are utilizing cloud environments for a wide range of use cases and business-critical services. Cloud has matured into a core component of infrastructure in most environments. Considering the data protection needs that are created by cloud business-critical environments is required for architecting effective data protection for most environments.  

Benefits of Cloud-to-cloud Backup

Another interesting topology when thinking about backing up data in the cloud is backing the data up from one cloud and targeting storage in another cloud. When we think about engineering backups of one public cloud and then also storing the backup data inside the same public cloud infrastructure, despite the ultra-resiliency of today’s public cloud networks, we are in a sense storing our backup data in the same default domain as our data protection.   Performing cloud to cloud backups that take data from a production environment and then storing the data inside another public cloud environment provides this data diversity in locating your data and separating out the fault domains for your production and backup data locations.  The term snapshot is used all over the landscape of data protection solutions. Snapshots can refer to different things depending on technologies being used and the context of where the term is used. Snapshot gained much popularity as a data protection term with the rise of virtualization. Virtualization technologies used by such vendors as VMware and Microsoft utilize technologies that allow creating a point-in-time “image” of virtual machines that allow easily rolling back to these specific points if needed. Data protection solutions have long utilized these native mechanisms for taking effective backups of VM resources by temporarily redirect writes to the virtual machine disk to the snapshot virtual disk which essentially is a differencing disk. While current activity is redirected to the differencing snapshot disk, the data protection solution can effectively take a backup of the virtual disk being used. Once the backup is taken, the snapshot delta disk is deleted.     


There are two terms that are often referenced when it comes to data protection solutions – RPO and RTO. These terms are often misunderstood when it comes to protecting and restoring data. The term RPO stands for Restore Point Objective. The easiest way to understand RPO is to think of it as the amount of data that a business can stand to lose and continue operating. As an example, if you are backing up your environment every hour, the RPO for your environment would be 1 hour. In other words, you are willing to lose 1 hours’ worth of data. If your backup runs and 59 minutes later the system or storage crashes, you would theoretically lose 59 minute’s worth of changes. The next backup would not have kicked off. For each organization, the RPO will most likely be different. For some, RPO values might be 1 day while others may need RPO values as low as minutes. Depending on the criticality of the data involved, the RPO value will be set.   The RTO or Restore Time Objective is the amount of time it will take to get the RPO restored. In other words, the RTO defines how long the business can stand to be without the data being available. For most, having the RTO as low as possible is the desired value. The RTO must be considered because it weighs into the overall disaster recovery/business continuity plan to determine how long business processes will be impacted from a data loss event. Both the RPO and the RTO values are extremely important considerations when thinking about disaster recovery and are terms that will no doubt come to light when formulating the disaster recovery/business continuity plan for your organization.  

Backup Retention Policies

Retention determines the amount of “versioning” or restore points that are kept on hand. The versioning depends on restore points that have been cataloged and stored that are potential restore points in the event that data is changed or deleted. Each business use case is different and the retention policies will be configured to align with each specific business need.  

What factors may affect the retention policy?

Here are various reasons and factors that may weigh into the retention policy configuration. These include compliance regulations that may determine how much information is kept on hand at any given time. If there is compliance regulations that determines how much history or data can be kept, backups are part of this consideration. Additionally, the more restore points you keep, the more storage it takes to keep those restore points. Especially when thinking about cloud-to-cloud backup and retention, most likely be a business decision that is made to determine the number of restore points that are retained vs the cost of keeping those restore points.  

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