I was asked during a disaster recovery session if the cloud could be used as a destination for backups. I guess this question could be simply answered as yes. I’m sure you already know that storage in the cloud is being used for data backup and on some scale for disaster recovery. While I can say yes to the question about “Can backups be sent to the cloud?”, the bigger question for me is “Is it ready for large scale backups to the cloud that can be used for disaster recovery?”. I’d also ask whether backing up data to the cloud is the right thing to do giving the requirements. You really have to look at the big picture here right.
Disaster recovery has many layers and tiers with many solutions to fit those layers or tiers based on many things like Recovery Point Objective and Recovery Time Object. It may not have to be complicated for small environments but I’m talking about dealing with terabytes of data here, not the free storage space you can get from Dropbox or Box.net that you use to backup your family photos.
I have been seeing a growing number of companies hopping on the bandwagon to support or solution backups to the cloud. Not that this is a bad thing or area of focus if used in the right way but I don’t see it as the light bulb turning on over my head “ah ha” moment.
Just looking at the cloud as a place to copy data so that when that time of crisis happens there is a highly available copy which can be recovered is in my opinion not looking at the big picture. Here is how I think the cloud should be looked at before you start sending backup data to it.
First you need to identify your storage and I’ll keep it simple here. Label your storage into a couple different areas and analyze how it’s used day to day in your environment.
- File Shares – typical smb share that user access and store files
- Content Management – A system that stores and manages files like MS Sharepoint
- Application/Database – Varies applications that use a database backend to store data or information
These are just three areas in which data is stored and can consists of many servers in your environment. I can’t tell you how many redundant systems I see in a single environment that do the same thing but are separated for some reason but that’s a different topic. Once we, at a high level, label these different types of data we can see that some of these systems could actually live in the cloud.
One point I’m trying to make here is that maybe you should be looking at moving the application into the cloud instead of just its backups. If the servers that host all of this data is in the already in the cloud you remove issues like how to get the backup data of those servers quickly and securely into the cloud.
And the more important issue of how do you pull that data back into your network quickly and reliably in order to restore services is removed. Just think about it, in order to restore the data you’ll also have to have infrastructure to do it with.
I think it would be a bigger nightmare using the cloud to backup data in old traditional backup to disk method. A better way is to just move your data and services into the cloud where possible.
In a lot of cases you could improve the service or access to data, add redundancy, and recover faster. So if your planning on using the cloud for the purpose of disaster recovery or to store backup data it maybe wise to get more than just a cloud archive. And use data protection and disaster avoidance as part of your justification for moving applications into the cloud.
Is Open Source Driving the Cloud?
Cloud Computing is all the rage these days and after drilling into many of the different services and solutions I noticed that open source seems to prevail and propel the cloud.
Before I go on my rant about open source and its relationship to the cloud let me define a few things. By now most people know what cloud computing is but I’d like to just point out the different models of deployment and services that are most talked about. There are three different types of deployments you’ll face with cloud computing and that’s Private, Public, and Hybrid.
Then within one or all those deployment models will be models of service consisting of Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and IT as a Service (ITaaS).
Cloud computing is really making it easy for customers to setup and deploy open source platforms that consist Apache, MySQL, and PostgreSQL, software like WordPress, Joomla, and XWiki, OpenCRM and also varying versions of the Linux operating system.
With this customers are able to quickly develop and implement systems that used to take weeks, if not longer, in as little as 30 minutes. It’s almost like pulling into your nearest McDonalds where you’d order your favorite meal, hand them your credit card, then receive what you ordered in minutes ready to go.
This can only increase the adoption of open source because in most cases it’s cheaper to run, support and manage. Now I understand cloud computing is not solely confined to Linux and Open source software solutions but many customers did not and don’t adopt open source software on Linux because of the inherent complexities when compared with Windows. This is changing though.
While you don’t need to virtualize servers, storage, and networking layers it kind of goes hand and hand with IaaS and cloud computing. Most people will actually think they’re doing cloud computing just because they are virtualizing servers, which is not the case. Virtualizing the physical layers of most clouds today you have the hypervisor.
The biggest and best hypervisor today, in my opinion, is vSphere (ESX) and the industry will probably agree with this. Hypervisors on the heels of vSphere are Xen, KVM, and Hyper-V. Back to the point about open source, Xen and KVM are big in cloud implementations.
They are both freely available for all to use and you could also implement one of a few popular cloud stacks created for orchestrating virtualized resources on this hypervisors. Eucalytpus, Open stack, and Cloud.com are just a few of the top solutions that anyone can download for free for the purpose of creating their own cloud computing environment. I suggest anyone looking at cloud computing investigate one or all of these solutions.
I hear it all the time about saving costs in IT and finding areas that can use or be converted to an open source solutions. While I know there’s more to it, it’s clear that customers want fast to deploy and/or low cost solutions and cloud computing can offer that.
So, do you think Open source is driving the Cloud or is the Cloud driven Open source?
Maybe it’s both?