Hyperscale Cloud Vendors vs. Cloud-Enabled Data Protection Vendors: Page 2

Cost alone should not be the deciding factor when deciding between a hyperscale cloud vendor or a cloud-enabled data protection provider.
Posted November 6, 2015

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Unitrends also offers a very full suite of DR capabilities for use with the Forever Cloud and the No Limits Cloud.  First off, they will also ship a fully seeded appliance back or physical media to the customer site with a guaranteed 24 hour turnaround time, allowing a customer to begin the site restoration process without having to pull everything down over the WAN.  In addition, they offer the ability to spin up VMs and physical servers in the cloud via their Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) capability, allowing operations to continue from the Unitrends cloud if something fails on-site. 

Unitrends DRaaS, with its “White Glove Service,” eliminates the need for customers to manage their own DR operations.  Instead, Unitrends personnel will take care of everything from the point of disaster, spinning up the entire customer environment in their cloud and providing a VPN link to enable a customer to continue operating until their site is physically recovered.  As part of this service, Unitrends also provides a custom DR plan, guarantees a 1-hour SLA from the time a disaster is declared and will provide up to 4 weeks of scheduled DR testing in any 12 month period.

In addition to all of this, to guarantee that restored backups and DR workloads are going to work properly, Unitrends offers ReliableDR Recovery Assurance as a Service, which fully automates the testing and validation of workloads at the application level.  ReliableDR recovers and tests backups in a sandbox area to verify that everything, including all application components, will function properly even for N-tier applications that consume multiple VMs.  One of the key capabilities that ReliableDR provides is the creation of Certified Recovery Points.  These are tested configurations that are guaranteed to boot up and operate properly.  This allows very quick recovery via pushbutton failover or failback to a known-good point.

In summary, hyperscale cloud vendors offer convenient access and low cost of entry, while data protection cloud vendors offer specialized services and more complete data protection solutions at what initially looks like higher prices.  However, because they’re pricing on a different model, over time their cloud solutions for backup are often lower cost than the hyperscale vendors; you can’t just look at $$/GB/month, you must run the numbers.  It’s a big market out there and there’s room for many players with different business models.  When choosing a cloud solution, realize that there are specific tools for specific jobs.  Don’t just go with the easy option, be sure to look carefully at the entire menu of choices and make a conscious decision about which one truly meets your needs.

Question # 2: How to Select the Right Cloud-Based Data Protection Solution

Assuming you have decided that the hyperscale cloud vendor storage is not right for you then you can focus on specialty data protection cloud vendors. Here too there are many choices and selecting the right solution is not as easy as it may seem. On the surface many offerings look alike but under the cover there are vast differences. To begin with, you need to ask what applications are being protected. What operating systems are involved? Are any applications running on physical servers or are they all virtual? Which hypervisors are involved? How extensive is the support matrix? Then there are questions about size. Is the solution primarily designed for SMBs? Mid-size customers? Large enterprises? What is the solution’s sweet spot? What size appliances are available for on-premise protection? How do you scale them? What is the local performance for backup and recovery? How easy is local recovery? What RTOs/RPOs are supported? Are they guaranteed? How effective is the transfer of data to the vendor’s cloud? Is there support for public cloud? Maybe you want to keep some workloads in a public cloud, in addition to keeping them in the vendor’s cloud, perhaps for geographical or regulatory considerations?

On paper and on a PowerPoint a lot of solutions look similar. All vendors use the same buzzwords—easy to use, simple, cloud-enable, scalable, hybrid cloud—but the true meaning varies all over the place.

Based on the breadth of operating environments and applications supported (physical and virtual), range of physical and virtual appliances for on-premise use, the support for both a vendor’s cloud and several public clouds, availability of a white glove service for DR, and many other considerations, Unitrends offerings bubble to the top, in our view. But that doesn’t mean that for your specific situation, another solution may not be the right one. So look under the covers and go past buzzwords, check out references, and then decide what is right for you. The good news is that for the first time ever there is a wide variety of offerings in the market at very reasonable prices. We suggest you look at the complete data protection picture rather than simply looking at the DR aspects. We think DR can now be viewed in the overall context of data protection, rather than standalone. We also believe that unlike in the past where you could only afford to DR-protect say 5% of all your applications (due to cost and complexity), today you can DR-protect perhaps 90% of your applications at reasonable prices. But you have to choose well since there is a plethora of half-baked solutions in the market that do a partial job, rather than deliver end-to-end protection.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Tags: data storage, cloud computing

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