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August 7, 2020

The Best of Both Worlds – Why a Hybrid Cloud Approach Makes Sense for Data Backup and Recovery

David Ngo

(everything possible/Shutterstock)

The use of hybrid cloud environments for office productivity, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and other business applications is no longer an exception – increasingly it is becoming the rule. Yet, until recently, hybrid cloud backup and recovery had remained an outlier in the movement to hybrid cloud environments.  But we’re on the cusp of it becoming mainstream.

Hybrid clouds have popped up all over the place, and are no longer anomalies in enterprise IT environments. For example, according to Flexera’s recent State of the Cloud 2020 report, 87% of enterprises today have a hybrid cloud strategy.

Companies are embracing hybrid cloud environments because they offer the best of both worlds for their business applications. They offer the scalability, flexibility, and ease-of-management of the cloud, as well as the regulation of on-premises infrastructure for workloads that require high performance or control that cloud services have difficulty delivering.

With hybrid cloud environments companies can choose to use on-premises infrastructure or a cloud service for a workload, allowing them to select the one that will provide them with the best possible outcome for the workload at a given time, while offering them the opportunity of switching to the other if their business needs change.

(a-image/Shutterstock)

But the focus on hybrid cloud environments hasn’t extended to the backup and recovery realm. Understandably so – before adopting a hybrid cloud approach to backup and recovery, companies wanted to be convinced that the cloud had matured to the point where it could be trusted as much as an on-premises infrastructure to protect their organization’s most critical data.

However, with even the U.S. Department of Defense signing a $10 billion contract with Microsoft to move many of its applications to the cloud, it is safe to say the cloud has now matured to the point where hybrid cloud environments can be trusted for the backup and recovery of most, if not all, enterprise data.

Still, two key questions remain for companies as they begin to evaluate hybrid cloud backup and recovery solutions:

1) What tangible, real-world benefits will my organization realize from a hybrid cloud approach to backup and recovery; and

2) How can I implement a smart, unified hybrid cloud backup and recovery strategy that maximizes these benefits?

The Benefits of Hybrid Cloud Backup and Recovery

A hybrid cloud approach, though, still provides companies with the ability to use on-premises infrastructure for workloads where it has advantages over cloud services.

For example, restoring data from on-premises infrastructure can often be completed much faster than from the cloud, because the key bottleneck is the speed of the company’s WAN connection. In fact, for some companies, on-premises infrastructure might be the only way for them to meet the Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) that they have for certain critical workloads.

In addition, on-premises infrastructure allows companies to avoid high (and sometimes hidden) data transport charges assessed by some cloud providers – a particular concern when a company has large files that it thinks it might need to recover on a frequent basis. There are also some companies who are still not comfortable with storing particularly sensitive data in the cloud and prefer to keep this data on-premises.

A Schematic representation of the terms RPO and RTO. In this example, the agreed values of RPO and RTO are not fulfilled. (Reprinted from Wikipedia)

With a hybrid cloud approach to backup and recovery, companies have the flexibility to use the cloud, on-premises infrastructure, or both to protect their data. They can use the cloud to back up data where scalability is a key consideration, where the data is already located in the cloud, or in cases where they do not think the cost and hassle of buying and managing on-premises hardware to back up the data is warranted.

But they can still use on-premises infrastructure to protect more recent, large files that they might need to recover very quickly, or for sensitive data that they want to control completely. They can even use both the cloud and on-premises infrastructure to protect their workloads – for example, they might have a more recent backup stored on-premises, and an older backup stored in the cloud.

And, as their business conditions and needs change, they also have the flexibility to move data from on-premises backup to the cloud, or vice versa.

Implementing a Smart, Unified Hybrid Cloud Backup and Recovery Strategy

For companies that want to implement a hybrid cloud backup and recovery strategy, there are several important things to keep in mind to maximize the benefits of this strategy. The first is to evaluate which data they want to back up to the cloud and which to back up to on-premises infrastructure.

One of the key advantages of hybrid cloud backup and recovery is that it provides companies with the ability to choose their backup target – but this also means they need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of the cloud versus on-premises infrastructure when developing policies that will determine where they back up their data.

Companies should also look for solutions that allow them to implement a smart, unified approach to hybrid cloud backup and recovery that minimizes the amount of time they have to spend configuring and managing the solution. For example, some new SaaS-based backup and recovery solutions reduce data protection administration by enabling companies to set them up in minutes. These solutions often further lower administration costs by managing all the cloud infrastructure required to protect a company’s data.

(Roman Rybaleov/Shutterstock)

Of course, if they want to implement a smart, unified strategy for hybrid cloud backup and recovery companies also need to make sure their solution is truly hybrid, and actually allows them to store data on-premises, rather than just caching data on-premises temporarily before uploading it to the cloud. In addition, the solution should provide a unified view of their backups by allowing them to set-up, configure, and manage both on-premises and cloud backups from a single pane of glass. The solution should not lock them into only using the solution provider’s cloud, but enable them to back up to other cloud services so they can maximize the ROI of their cloud spend.

Companies should also look for opportunities to learn about and implement hybrid cloud backup and recovery strategy best practices. For example, some SaaS-based backup and recovery come with preconfigured backup and recovery plans that have many data protection best practices built-in. In addition, by collaborating with their resellers and other trusted IT advisors on the development and roll-out of their hybrid cloud backup and recovery strategy, they can tap into these experts’ experience implementing these strategies for other companies. This knowledge will help them avoid common mistakes and maximize the benefits of a hybrid cloud approach to backup and recovery.

A Hybrid Cloud Approach Offers Companies the Freedom to Choose Where to Back Up Their Data

As it has for other workloads, a hybrid cloud approach to backup and recovery offers companies the freedom to use the cloud or on-premises infrastructure for different workloads. For some workloads, they can benefit from the cloud’s scalability, simplicity, and other advantages. For other workloads, they can use on-premises infrastructure if they need the speed to achieve short RPOs and RTOs, if they have large files that might lead to high data transfer charges, or if they want complete control over particular types of sensitive data.

By carefully evaluating which data to backup where, selecting the right hybrid cloud backup and recovery solution, and adopting hybrid cloud backup and recovery best practices, these companies can implement a smart, unified hybrid cloud backup and recovery strategy that allows them to protect their data in a manner that realizes the best of both the cloud and on-premises worlds.

About the Author: is a 22-year veteran of Commvault and serves as the Vice President of Products and Engineering for Metallic, the SaaS division of Commvault. David joined Commvault after graduating from Rutgers University and has held roles in Development, Office of the CTO, and Professional Services. He started as a developer and led the Windows development group, during which time he was granted a number of patents. He went on to lead engineering alliances with strategic partners, such as Microsoft and NetApp before joining the Office of the CTO and leading cloud and virtualization efforts. Prior to joining the Metallic group, David established the Remote Managed Services group.

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