Making Data Protection Cost-Effective
A sub-optimal data protection strategy and an ad-hoc backup process can prove to be a business’ Achilles heel. The most common causes for data loss are accidental data deletion, malicious insider deletion, ransomware attacks, and device losses or accidents. Each occurrence by itself has the potential to hamper business continuity, but collectively pose a big enough risk that can bring a business to its knees.
93% of organizations without a recovery plan, that suffer a major data disaster will go out of business within one year. – Hosting Tribunal
But this is a risk that is easy to manage. With a robust data protection strategy, coupled with an enterprise-class backup solution, enterprises can mitigate risks due to data loss. Also, data backups are required by enterprises to achieve important regulatory compliances.
A lot of SMB and mid-market businesses still think backup is ‘nice to have’. This philosophy is usually rooted in a concern around costs – which is the barrier we’ll primarily discuss in this blog post. The question therefore is whether there is such a thing as an enterprise-class AND cost-effective data backup solution.
Why do enterprises not consider an enterprise-grade backup solution?
1. License costs
Some businesses think of backups as an additional cost they need to budget for – and they assume a cloud-based backup is expensive.
2. Storage costs
In addition, they assume they have to buy a ton of storage – which is understandable. After all, the backup copies have to be kept somewhere.
3. Network costs
This is a big concern administrators voice. What if the backup adds so much network traffic, that it chokes their internet bandwidth? Or their user’s computers become unusable due to all that backup activity?
4. Sync vs Backup
Achieving Cost-effective Backup
Let’s break these down one by one. At Parablu, since we develop backup solutions – I’ll occasionally use Parablu’s BluVault as an illustration to make the case as to why backups can be cost-effective.
1. License costs
A modern backup solution, served up as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) does not have to be cost-prohibitive. Due to multi-tenancy, cloud-elasticity, volume discounts, and other economies of scale working in their favor – SaaS backup vendors like Parablu are able to pass along a lot of those cost savings to customers.
With a SaaS based backup, customers are paying a subscription on a monthly or yearly basis – with the option to stop the service at the end of the subscription period. No sunk costs. And all expenses are categorized as OpEx (as opposed to CapEx) – something finance teams love.
What’s more, you’re assured of round-the-clock technical support, the latest, most cutting-edge hardware, world-class data centers with best-in-class security certifications, etc. A modern, designed-for-the-cloud backup, on a per-user basis, usually costs a fraction of what the organization might be paying for the same user’s Microsoft 365 for Google Workspace license.
2. Storage costs
This one is a bit trickier. It is true that backup solutions are storage hungry. In fact, over a period of time, storage costs can outpace backup software license costs and can account for close to 70% of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a backup solution.
Parablu’s BluVault has a particular advantage in this area with the ability to use a business’ existing OneDrive for Business or Google Drive – and create a secure backup vault out of that storage. Since businesses already own this storage – via their individual employee subscriptions – they don’t need to budget for additional storage. They can use essentially bring storage costs related to backup down to ZERO – leading to a massive reduction in TCO.
3. Network costs
While it is true that a cloud-based backup will need the use of network bandwidth to move data to the cloud, modern backup solutions have several techniques to reduce this usage.
i. Back up Only What is Required : Most modern backup solutions offer an easy way to set up backup policies which specify what folders or file types to back up. This way, enterprises can ensure that only the right data that is crucial for the business is being backed up. This capability prevents unnecessary depletion of network bandwidth and storage.
ii. Incremental backups: Backup solutions today are quite sophisticated and will not backup all data every day. Incremental backup algorithms allow them to identify what files have changed since the last backup ran, and selectively back up only those files. Solutions like BluVault have even more sophisticated algorithms that can identify changes inside a file and only backup those parts of a file. Called a delta-incremental or a partial file transfer, this is particularly helpful when protecting large files (such as PSTs) that might change a little bit every day.
iii. Network Bandwidth Throttling: A number of modern backup solutions, including BluVault allow administrators to set network bandwidth limits to constrain how much bandwidth can be used when backing up data. This is particularly important in the current situation when a lot of backups aren’t happening on leased lines and MPLS links – but over home Wi-Fi networks. The bandwidth can be specified as a percentage or in absolute values (Mbps, Kbps) or sometimes as a percentage of available throughput. With BluVault, an administrator can even specify different throttle limits for different groups of users.
iv. Compression and De-duplication: Backup solutions today also come with techniques like software compression and de-duplication that further reduce the backup payload. BluVault, in particular uses sophisticated variable-length, block-level, de-duplication that starts right from the source – i.e. redundant data bits start getting weeded out right at the endpoint or server where the backup is starting from.
v. Cloud-Cloud restores: An oft ignored area where network bandwidth has an impact is during restores. Restores are almost always a more pressing need than backups – and there can be nothing more frustrating than waiting a long time when recovering data from a cloud backup. In most cases, it is the network that is the slowest link in the chain, and the bottleneck is usually the bandwidth that the end-user gets from their ISP or the office network. Parablu has pioneered the idea of a cloud-cloud restore. With BluVault, there is an option to recover data directly from the Parablu backup-tenant in the cloud, to the user’s OneDrive for Business account which is also in the cloud. This removes any dependency on the business’ network bandwidth availability or an end-user’s network throughput.
Why Sync isn’t a Backup
Lastly, let’s spend a minute on the Sync vs Backup confusion. Let us take OneDrive as an example here. Most businesses that use Microsoft 365 subscriptions are under the impression that their OneDrive for Business is designed to fulfil the need for endpoint data backup and protection. This is a strategy fraught with risk because while OneDrive is an excellent file synchronization solution – it is most definitely not a backup. On the surface, it would seem that sync and backup both do the same things – i.e. make secondary copies of files to the cloud. But they serve two entirely different purposes – while sync solutions are designed for data availability and productivity, backup solutions are designed for data preservation and data immutability. While a sync can substitute for a backup in some very basic ways – a business cannot truly protect themselves against data loss threats or achieve regulatory compliance using a sync solution. Sync solutions can leave a business vulnerable in terms of ransomware, insider threats, and can even falls short in providing adequate coverage for backup data. And perhaps even more importantly, they cannot provide businesses with a strong platform on which to build regulatory compliance.
At Parablu, we have seen BluVault been adopted by organizations with tens of thousands of users without any of the above factors becoming a concern. Modern backup solutions are resilient and highly scalable. BluVault in particular has been designed to support even user bases of well over a 100,000 users. Each component in BluVault is elastic and horizontally scalable.
Making IT decisions, especially when it comes to data security is a difficult job. And every day in an IT administrator’s life is a battle it is tough world day in an IT administrator’s job is a battle against the bad guys. It is therefore important to ensure that backup and data protection are a non-negotiable part of every IT administrator’s arsenal. Modern, designed-for-the-cloud solutions like BluVault help administrators design and deploy backup strategies that are not only highly reliable and secure, but that also cost sensitive and return enterprises the value for their investment.