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Report Sees Cloud Role for Database Backup and Disaster Recovery

Organizations are showing greater interest in using cloud services for database backup and disaster recovery scenarios, according to a Microsoft-sponsored study.

The study, conducted by Forrester Consulting from December through February, polled 209 organizations in Asia, Europe and North America on the topic, getting the opinions of IT managers for the most part (62 percent). Microsoft describes the study, "Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery Meets Next-Generation Database Demands," at this page, with links to a free download.

The study reported that 44 percent of enterprises are either planning to extend their disaster recovery capabilities to the cloud or are aspiring to do so. Many enterprises may have mission-critical databases that are "larger than 10 terabytes," according to the study. The growth of mission-critical Web-based databases is considered to be adding to enterprise backup woes, per the study.

The biggest obstacle to using the cloud for backup is security and privacy, according to 78 percent of those polled in the study. Public clouds typically store an organization's data with the data of other users on the same servers. Consequently, using a public cloud service for backup or disaster recovery purposes "can still pose a security risk," according to Forrester.

The top reasons for using a cloud service for backups, per the survey, included saving money on storage (61 percent) and saving money on the costs of administration (50 percent), according to the respondents.

The study also found that organizations increasingly are backing up their "tier-2 applications," which are non-mission critical apps or departmental apps. Tier-2 app backups are being done once per day by 56 percent of respondents. The study described that practice as a change from a more traditional practice of just backing up tier-1 applications.

Using the cloud for backup and disaster recovery purposes is still new, according to Forrester. Respondents cited a number of "challenges" to using the cloud in that way. Storage management was considered to be a challenge by 41 percent. Securing backups for compliance purposes was cited as a challenge by 40 percent.

The report explained that many enterprises often omit encrypting their database backups because of complexity involved and the possibility of encountering data corruption. In addition, Forrester indicated that most enterprises omit carrying out tests of their disaster recovery capabilities on a frequent basis because of the time involved. The use of public clouds may offer a way to address those two pain points, according to Forrester.

The report suggested that cloud-based backup and disaster recovery solutions have matured over the last four years. It recommended that organizations test them out before considering the cloud for those purposes.

It's also possible to use a hybrid approach, combining premises-based solutions with public cloud services. In such cases, organizations can keep their large databases on premises for backup or disaster recovery purposes and put their moderate-sized databases in the public cloud, according to Forrester.

Network latency is still a concern when using the public cloud for backup or disaster recovery purposes, according to the report. Forrester recommends using "incremental streaming backup to the public cloud" as a possible approach to that issue.

Microsoft has a number of backup technologies, including the SQL Server Backup to Microsoft Azure service, the use of Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines as replicas for backup and the use of the Microsoft Azure Backup Service. There are also a number of Microsoft partners offering backup technologies that leverage Microsoft Azure and other cloud platforms. A review of some of those partner solutions can be found in this Redmond article.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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