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Using cloud backup as part of a DR strategy

When your disaster recovery plan includes cloud backup, Jon Toigo of Toigo Partners International explains what you'll need from your provider.

What should people consider before choosing the cloud as a backup target?

Cloud storage could be an effective backup target, but I don't paint all cloud providers with the same brush. The facts need to be closely considered.

First, there is usually one charge for writing data to the cloud storage target and additional charges for getting the data back. You need to find out what all of the charges are.

Second, most cloud storage targets provide adequate bandwidth for transporting changed data to the cloud once the original or full data backup has been copied (often a teeth-pulling experience). Following a disaster, you need your data -- perhaps close to all of your data -- restored. Chances are good that the WAN connection to the cloud is inadequate to this task.

Remember: It takes more than a year to move 10 TB of data across a T-1 (DS-1) WAN link. While MPLS networks may provide bigger pipes, using them typically means that your backup data will not be located outside what is considered a safe distance from your production data (at least 50 kilometers). Otherwise, your primary and recovery data may be susceptible to the same weather or natural disaster events.

Those constraints need to be taken seriously. I personally would never use a cloud backup service provider whose facility was closer than 50 kilometers or one that could not provide my data on tape in the event of a large restore.

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