Security is one of the things in most businesses minds; Cloud storage can now offer levels of security, business continuity and disaster recovery for all sizes of businesses through scalable solutions.

Data backup

In a straightforward data backup, the cloud acts as an external storage system - a hard drive online.  Whilst this does provide a secure location, the management of data can be time consuming.Additionally, if the point does come when the data has to downloaded then reloaded onto physical machines can be quite time consuming. This is a great option for non business critical data or archives.

A data mirror uses the cloud to constantly sync changes to files and data and stores the most recent versions of all files securely in the cloud. There can be some latency with updates so should the on premise systems break down there may be some loss of very recent edits or additions.

Data storage

To move one step up the ladder, you can move all your data to the cloud, there can be some latency and the speed of data movement is dependent on your internet connection speed. This option is suitable for those with standard data needs, providing a secure backup of all data.

Moving both data and applications to the cloud can reduce latency, running everything from the cloud; Office 365 is an example of this approach.  With a fully cloud based system everything is managed on your behalf. However, offline access can be an issue, if you have no data connection you’ll have no access to data. This option is best for companies with machines constantly connected to the internet and looking for the ease of having everything managed on their behalf.

Taking one more step up, for those systems that cannot afford to have any downtime the employment of virtual machines is an option, coming in two styles; Cold and Hot. 

‘Cold standby’ provides a bank of virtual machines available to be used when an incident occurs, where a new instance of a user session can be created in minutes, coupled with a data mirror meaning the downtime  and impact is minimised. 

In ‘Hot standby’, the data is mirrored as in cold, but the virtual machines are always running and connected to a users session, so if one instance crashes a new one can be created and pushed live in a matter
of seconds.

Full business continuity

At the very top we have a complex and steadfast solution with backup systems on top of other backups. With multiple virtual machines sessions, these are most suited to business where a loss of data or application fidelity for seconds would have far reaching consequences; systems such as stock trading, transport management systems or electricity production and distribution.

With a range of options, the most important thing is to choose the right one for your business and budget – what you need to secure, does your access to saved data need to be immediate and do you require a system that can cope with a complete crash and keep functioning. These are just some of the questions you should answer as you decide whichcloud option is right for you.

Share your thoughts

What are your thoughts on using the cloud as your backup?  Have you recently made the move to the cloud?  How was the transition, any key lessons to share?

Let us know @MicrosoftBizUK