What you need to know about cloud-to-cloud backup services

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In 2012, businesses had 12 per cent of their applications and IT systems running in the cloud; in 2014, that figure had already grown to 69 per cent. Here we look at why cloud-to-cloud backup services are gaining more interest from businesses as they store more and mission-critical data in virtual servers.

If the sales of Office 365 are anything to go by, we’ve all heard loud and clear what cloud computing can do for us. It has become Microsoft’s fastest growing commercial product ever and the company’s cloud revenue grew 128 per cent in Q1 this year compared to the same quarter in 2014.

While SaaS applications will have safeguards in place to protect your data, guess who ultimately has responsibility for the protection of this data stored by providers like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce? That’s right, the data owner. Yes these organisations have a responsibility when it comes to hardware and software failure, but these aren’t the only ways that data can become corrupted or vanish altogether. Data can be affected by simple human error, hack attacks, malicious inside deletion, disgruntled former employees, third-party software, and plenty more factors besides.

Where providers do offer backup or disaster recovery services, they usually have limitations and can be costly. In the case of Office 365, if data is deleted, it is gone forever, and the ‘Recoverable Items’ folder can only store 30GB. There is also never any guarantee that data is fully protected and liability is limited to only direct damages of up to £3,250 and/or covers a refund for the last 12 month’s subscription fees. Salesforce charges a flat rate fee of £6,500 for data recovery and protected data is not easily accessible; it can take weeks to recover your data.

If experience has taught us that it’s a good idea to back up our physical storage, then why wouldn’t we do the same for our virtual storage? Part of the problem has been a lack of suitable products on the market capable of addressing this issue, but that’s changing and cloud-to-cloud backup solutions are becoming more prevalent.

As the name suggests, cloud-to-cloud backup is one cloud backing up another cloud. Your Software as a Service (SaaS) providers are keeping your data in their public clouds. Cloud-to-cloud backs up these public clouds with a private cloud to help businesses maintain control of their data.

Cloud-to-cloud protected data also becomes handy for legal discoveries, as long as the data is backed up regularly, and the account is configured correctly. When employees depart from an organisation, cloud-to-cloud services allow for the retention of all the data they generated, including data already deleted by the departing employee.

Of course not all cloud to cloud service providers are created equal and there are a number of factors worth considering when it comes to choosing the right solution: recovery time objective (RTO), regulatory demands, permanence of the provider, service levels, certification, software quality and ease of use, data centre security, redundancy, compression ratios, pricing structure, the amount of data and number of users…it’s fair to say that this is not a straightforward problem to solve and not everyone’s requirements will be the same.

It’s time businesses stopped relying on SaaS providers to protect their mission critical data, and started watching their own back. Data held in applications like Office 365, Google Apps, and Salesforce.com – as well as on platforms like Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services – can be backed up in the cloud and as businesses increasingly look to virtualise their IT systems and services, it’s become a business imperative for them to do so.

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