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Finding Low-Cost Data Backup in the Cloud

May 6, 2013

A strong dichotomy has forged between those who surge ahead into cloud-computing, and those who linger below, clinging to the comfort of their magnetic tape solutions. Some of us are excited for what the future holds—and some of us prefer to stick to what we know, to a low-cost data backup solution that time has determined to be “good enough.”

However, the sense of competence we assign to a practice after a certain passage of time can often be misleading. As it has always been with technological development, server data backup solutions with undeniable problems, like tape backup, will eventually give way to server data backup solutions with fewer problems. It’s called improvement.

Problems with tape? Where to begin…after all, there are a myriad of problems associated with tape-based backup—too many for just one blog. In that case, here’s another to help further the argument that tape is flawed…Read On.

Today, however, we’re addressing issues of cost control that many will experience with their current server data backup solutions—the struggle to keep data backup low cost, yet reliable.

Interestingly enough, there’s plenty of opinion floating around out there stating that the hard costs—hardware, software, maintenance, operational expenses, capital costs, and so on –associated with cloud-based backup and recovery are too expensive. Of course, this all depends on the service provider and the solution being peddled. Should you suddenly jump headfirst into the earliest solution that seems fitting, you might end up paying more than what’s necessary for a self-proclaimed “low-cost data backup solution.”

What our team at Dakota Backup & Recovery recommends is doing your homework—specifically your math homework—to make an A/B comparison that aims to weigh the products, as well as the hard and soft costs associated with each solution type.

Cost Control: Tape vs. Cloud

A: Cloud-Managed Backup & Recovery

There are ways in which cloud service providers can aim to keep data backup low cost for the end-user—key elements that can save the consumer money in the long run. Dakota Backup & Recovery employs a number of software features that can reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), making cloud-managed backup and recovery the low-cost data backup forerunner in our A/B comparison.

For starters, an agentless architecture completely eliminates additional expenditures associated with installing and managing agents on the host server and operating system. Time is money, and removing agents from the server data backup schema saves you both time and costly resources. In addition, automatic software updates, delivered via the cloud, reduce your TCO by keeping your solution current without accruing additional expenses. After initial purchase, there’s nothing left to buy and install in order to keep your disaster recovery plan ahead of the curve.

It’s also important to consider the structural efficiency of the software and how it reduces the amount of storage your backup requires. At Dakota Backup & Recovery, we employ a highly skilled team of Systems Analysts who conduct and utilize customized audit reports to fine-tune the archiving system; scrupulously prioritizing client need and keeping the data backup cost low in as many avenues as possible. In other words, we’re always actively seeking ways to save you money on OS and server data backup and protection—not selling you more and more tape archives so you can unknowingly copy duplicate data sets and damaged files for the exponential growth of your terabytes.

B: Tape-Based Backup & Recovery

A short disclaimer: tape-based backup isn’t all bad. In fact, tape archiving might be “good enough” in the case of very small data sets that require management and very small data losses that call for quick recovery. For instance, should you lose a single document, the most effective low-cost data backup solution might be for your IT professional to retrieve the correct tape and quickly restore the document to its rightful place.

However, these “very small data sets” are going somewhat extinct as business, in general, continues to go digital in light of modern technology. Most data, these days, is BIG data; and as big data continues to grow, the likelihood of a “very small data loss” begins to fade.

Here’s what tape, in terms of low-cost data backup, has going for it: it’s less expensive to implement. The initial purchase price might seem more attractive than that of a cloud-managed remote offsite backup solution; however, we have more comparisons to make…

Hard Costs vs. Soft Costs

Perhaps you’re “math homework” has revealed that tape trumps cloud when it comes to the hard costs of OS and server data backup—however, this may only be the case from the outset, when you’re positioned for initial purchase, before the expansion of data requires more and more hardware, software, maintenance, etc. to keep the tape-based solution functioning. With cloud-managed backup, the hard cost is a one-time expenditure with scalable storage, automatic software updates, and inclusive maintenance as your data archives continue to grow.

The real kicker here is in the soft costs. When it comes to the OS and server data backup process, a tape-based solution incurs the expense of an additional IT department salary to manage and maintain backups. If you’re hiring someone full-time, this equates to another yearly salary. If you’re putting the task to an existing IT department staff member, consider the hourly rate lost on time spent backing up, monitoring, and maintaining the storage system. On average, this hourly rate is around $28 - $30.

When you consider the sudden occasion that calls for recovery, you have to turn to that intangible consideration of unrecoverable data. How much will your tape-based “low-cost” data backup solution really end up burning you when its backup and recovery deficiencies adversely affect your bottom line?

Hundreds? Thousands? Millions?

The cost of unrecoverable data is indefinable in that you can’t really plug the numbers into your TCO until the recovery process is in the here and now, and you’re watching the dollars stream steadily from the bottom of your bucket. However, perhaps a good idea can be established. Consider:

  1. The cost of continuing without the data
  2. The cost of recreating the data
  3. The cost of notifying users in the event of a compromise

Comparing price tags in an apple-to-apple fashion is much too simple; and if you’re smart enough to run a successful business, than you’re probably safe from making such a simple mistake. Comparing tape-based OS and server data backup with cloud-managed services—as vastly different products with vastly different features—is an apple/orange assessment, one that must be accompanied by a math equation that computes hard and soft costs.

If we seem confident in saying so, it’s because we are: when the homework is done correctly, the math will surely end up in favor of cloud-computing as a low-cost data backup solution, the present and future of data backup and recovery.


Last Modified: 03-11-2014-10:00:33

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