Backup as a Service: To BaaS or Not to BaaS

Cloud-based Backup as a Service may or may not be a good choice for your business, depending on cost and management factors.


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Backup as a Service (BaaS) provides backup and recovery operations from the cloud. The cloud-based BaaS provider maintains necessary backup equipment, applications, process and management in their data center. The customer will have some on-site installation – an appliance and backup agents are common – but there is no need to buy backup servers and software, run upgrades and patches, or purchase dedupe appliances.

Note that BaaS is not just a marketing term for online backup. Online backup is not a service: IT uses the cloud as a backup target, similar to disk or tape. In contrast, BaaS launches from the cloud service provider, who consults with the customer over needs and SLAs, and who manages the backup and recovery service.

Backup as a Service Alphabet Soup

Before we get into backup as a service, let’s clear up the cloudy terminology. BaaS is a relatively new term for backup and already exists for some very different cloud-based services. The below are a few of the acronyms bobbing around the cloud-based services world.

· BaaS. We’re discussing Backup as a Service but the acronym more commonly stands for Backend as a Service, which provides mobile application developers a way to link their applications to cloud storage and other tools like user management and social media. In yet another BaaS usage, Business as a Service rises out of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Vendors host business applications and also help to manage the business and provide business products and services.

· STaaS. Storage as a Service is a big arena where data of all types is stored in the cloud. Usage is extensive, covering everything from active data to long term archival. Although STaaS can include backup data, it does not extend the backup process to the customer site as BaaS does.

· SaaS. Software as a Service is the leading offering in the computing cloud. Vendors host customer applications and data in the cloud for simplified application delivery, management, security and upgrades.

· DRaaS/RaaS. Disaster Recovery as a Service, or more simply Recovery as a Service, offers more recovery options than the backup recovery of BaaS. BaaS will recover your backed up files, and RaaS recovers your files and applications within contracted RTO and/or RPO periods. It is more costly than BaaS but can be a good option if you do not want to perform your own storage infrastructure recovery in case of disaster.

· PaaS. Platform as a Service provides cloud-based infrastructure for application developers. Developers can concentrate on developing, testing and rolling out their applications without equipping a local data center to support them.

· IaaS. Infrastructure as a Service provisions a full computing stack online including servers, networking, and storage.

Choosing BaaS?

backup as a service

Different Strokes for Different Folks

BaaS offerings will differ quite a bit depending on customer SLAs, environment, compliance requirements and management styles. There are three primary models: public cloud, private cloud and a hybrid approach.

· BaaS using a Public Cloud. This is the most straightforward of the BaaS environments: an MSP backs up customer data to a multi-tenant cloud. The MSP may provide their own cloud, such as Fujitsu’s Cloud S5 for its own Backup as a Service. Most often MSPs will take advantage of Amazon S3, Google Cloud, or MS Azure public clouds. All three providers offer business packages for MSPs. In the public cloud environment, the MSP will install agents at the customer’s site but launch backup and restore from the MSP’s infrastructure. Price differs dramatically depending on the amount of backup you generate and the level of SLAs you are paying for.

· BaaS using a Private Cloud. Not everyone agrees on a single definition for a private cloud. Some people refer to a corporate-owned and -managed cloud as a private cloud. Some cloud-based application vendors refer to their cloud as private since their cloud customers are strictly their application users. Still other MSPs define the private cloud as single-tenant co-location with dedicated physical web computing clusters. BaaS in the private cloud may be provided by an MSP to a security-conscious customer, or by the corporation itself as a cloud backup service to departments and workgroups. The corporation may hire an MSP to run its private cloud.

· BaaS as a Hybrid. Some BaaS providers will combine on-premise appliances with cloud-based backup services. The advantage to the customer is creating a local backup for fast recovery, and sending deduped files to the cloud for retention. The disadvantage is retaining and maintaining a backup appliance in a crowded data center.

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Tags: cloud computing, BAAS, backup as a service, cloud based storage

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