Four Cloud Backup Traps

More organizations than ever look to general purpose or public cloud providers to host their applications and data. As they do, they often identify and understand the type of cloud service or service they plan to procure. They also need to go one step further. They must also identify how to best back up and recover the applications and data they host in the cloud lest they fall into one of four common cloud backup traps.

IaaS versus SaaS

Organizations of all sizes embracing the cloud rarely comes as a surprise to anyone. The 30 to 50+ percent year-over-year Q4 2020 growth in cloud revenue experienced by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft confirms this trend.
These cloud providers primarily attribute this growth to originating from two areas – infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS).
IaaS delivers cloud services such as compute services (virtual machines), storage services (block, file, and object) and database and networking services. Organizations then procure and use these various services by deploying applications and storing data on them.
Cloud-based SaaS offerings differ in that cloud providers host applications in their cloud and charge organization for using them. More well-known SaaS applications include Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365. The providers deliver, maintain, and support the SaaS application. Organizations pay to use and store data in them.

Four Cloud Backup Traps

In using one or both these IaaS and SaaS offerings, organizations may assume these cloud providers do more than they do. Including backup and recovery as part of their IaaS or SaaS offering represents a trap into which organizations may fall. This occurs for the following reasons:

Backup Trap Resized v21. Cloud providers do not automatically back up and recover an organization’s data.

This premises hold true whether an organization uses a cloud provider’s IaaS offering, its SaaS offering, or both.
Cloud providers do offer data protection. This may help explain why organizations mistakenly assume cloud providers offer backup and recovery. However, their data protection offerings focus on high availability, redundancy, and security, among others. They do not extend to include backup and recovery.

2. Cloud providers offer backup services.

The availability of backup offerings from cloud providers may contribute to the assumption they automatically back up and recover data. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft each offer backup solutions, with Google having acquired one in December 2020. However, organizations must separately procure these services, set them up, and then manage backup and recovery. Cloud providers do not perform any of these tasks for organizations.

3. Cloud provider backup solutions do not protect data in their own SaaS offerings.

Organizations generally know the SaaS applications that cloud providers offer. For instance, Microsoft offers Office 365 and Google offers Workspace. Organizations may not know that subscribing to and using Microsoft’s or Google’s respective backup offering will not protect data in their SaaS offering. Organizations will need to procure a separate, third-party solution to perform this task for their Office 365 and Workspace data.

4. Backup and recovery requirements differ between IaaS and SaaS.

Obtaining a single solution that backs up and recovers both IaaS and SaaS applications and data may still not suffice. This stems from a subtle but important difference between IaaS and SaaS backup requirements.
When backing up in IaaS, organizations often must back up and recover both applications and data. When backing up in SaaS, organizations only need to back up and recover the data. This difference may seem minor. However, having no control over the application, such as occurs with SaaS, influences how one may perform recoveries of SaaS data. Backup solutions specifically tuned to back up and recover SaaS applications better account for this nuance.

Avoiding the Cloud Backup Traps

Organizations can avoid any of these common cloud backup traps associated with deploying IaaS, SaaS, or both. The easiest solution simply involves deploying a cloud backup solution that targets a specific cloud provider’s IaaS or SaaS offering.
If an organization uses both IaaS and SaaS offerings from a cloud provider, they may need to deploy two separate cloud backup solutions. Alternatively, they may deploy a single, more comprehensive backup solution that protects both IaaS and SaaS environments.

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