How Do you Choose the Best Cloud Backup and Storage Service Provider?

Cloud backup has become a useful tool for both large and small businesses. The reason for this is that cloud backup is affordable, but also a whole lot of options for quick and easy recovery. From big service providers like Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services to small-scale service providers, there are thousands of vendors to choose from. Every service is offering something a bit different, so how do you know which one is the right solution for your business? Whether your requirement is to backup and/or store the entire network of your organisation, with a strict RPO and RTO, or to store simple items like images, files, or folders, there are some factors which need to be considered closely.

Storage Capacity:

The need for storage capacity is increasing considerably and so is the huge amount of digital data that organisations need to protect, save and process. With this, there is an increase in demand along with businesses’ future requirements. It is important to make sure that there is enough storage capacity in the system for multiple backups and/or storage, instead of only the recent ones.

Security:

Backups do include several sensitive information which cannot be kept anywhere one likes. Security practises of cloud backup vendors should be carefully examined and known completely. You should determine whether the data is stored using an encryption technology and the type of encryption used should be clearly communicated by the vendor. Is two-factor authentication used for preventing unauthorised access?  What protections are being used to physically keep unauthorised people out of the data centre? In contrast to this, integrating this infrastructure in-house is quite expensive and also requires continuous maintenance. However, if you offload all this to the vendor, it not only frees your resources, but also allow you get expert services. Remember that it is in the best interest of the vendor to brand itself as “the-go-to” company for data backup and storage related technologies. It is also important to confirm that the service provider you choose is compliant with the regulations of the industry.

Service:

In some cases, a vendor may charge  the same amount as another vendor. But, you need to find out if the comparison is apple to apple. Are the features and service levels the same? In case of a disaster or data corruption, you may want to access your backed up data fast, with in the specified period of time in the SLA, without any difficulties. This is the main reason why businesses need a reliable service provider. SLAs have become a good way to determine the efficiency of the vendor. In addition to this, the SLA you signed up during the initial agreement is an indication of how the vendor is prepared and how it is going to handle any future recovery needs. If the vendor doesn’t respect the SLA during disaster recovery, it is definitely time to look for a different vendor.

Data Synchronisation:

Many cloud storage service providers handle extensive data on a daily basis and that data is modified very often. This is the main reason why manual backups of data has been rendered impractical in modern businesses of today. A good service provider must repudiate manual backups through a fully automated data backup and synchronisation service offering. Backup solution features may vary between service providers, and therefore, it is essential that enterprises select the right service provider with the right features.

Self-Managed or Fully Managed:

Just because a business is hiring the service of a cloud storage service provider, it does not mean that all backups are managed by them. It is important to make every point clear in initial discussions in case you are looking for a fully-managed provider. Some service providers may provide a complete infrastructure which can be used for managing your own backups. Many times you may not even know whether these backups are working properly or not. Some may provide notifications through emails, however, it is up to you to read emails and act accordingly. On the other hand, fully managed backup service providers will manage the whole procedure from the start to the end.

Disaster Recovery:

Two very important metrics which impact the effectiveness of cloud backup and the strategy for disaster recovery is recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). While RTO is the maximum period of time that a network can be tolerated to be down after downtime (in other words, it measures how long you are willing to tolerate the downtime until your restore your data); RPO refers to how far you roll back in time by specifying the maximum period of time of data loss, going back from the point of failure to the last backup sets. These two objectives measure two different matrices, but ideally, they both should be zero or near zero, for a perfect continuity with a 100% uptime. Prior to selecting a cloud backup service provider, it is important to determine the RPO and RTO values and assure that your provider can live up to them.

Pricing Structure:

Pricing structures of cloud backup services are usually straightforward. However, there are two factors which needs to be determined, which are storage and bandwidth costs. Both of these factors are priced in GBs or TBs. Although, there are no charges for uploading data on the cloud except the monthly fees, some service provider may charge additional fees for downloading or recovering or even for accessing your data. In addition to this, there are some service providers which may set a downloading limit and your connection will get throttling your bandwidth after a certain limit is reached. Bandwidth throttling affects not only uploading, but in case of a recovery, it will increase the recovery time significantly.

The Cloud Gateway Appliances:

The cloud gateway appliances can be used either in the form of virtual or physical devices and serve as a go-between amongst the data centres and the cloud service provider. These may not be backup systems; however, they are marketed as backup and storage services as they provide synchronisation and data history. Data stored in these appliances are cached locally and replicated in the cloud, with snapshots for history. In case all data is lost or even the appliance is lost, a copy of the data can be found in the cloud. Moreover, if any file is corrupt or deleted, older versions of the files are saved as snapshots, which in turn are available as cache or in the cloud.

Conclusion:

There are several cloud storage service providers. The need for a service provider may be highly dependent upon what your goals are. Determining several factors while selecting a service provider is essential to get the maximum of what your money is worth. Outsourcing the data backup service to a vendor that specialises in backup will definitely bring peace of mind, which comes with the fact that the company’s data is being protected securely, easily, and reliably, and that the costs associated with these services are affordable and predictable.