Data backup has not been considered an exciting new technology by any means. In fact, if an IT director’s leads with ‘backup’ as their area of expertise, they are most often met with a wide, glassy eyed look of confusion or boredom. But it is time to change this view and showcase how backup is both exhilarating and vital for businesses. One way to spice up the conversation is simply to add “cloud” to backup and suddenly the conversation becomes much more exciting and relevant.  

If a server crashes, an application becomes infected with a virus, or a simple email gets deleted by accident, IT directors are called upon to restore these services — in a matter of minutes — from a secure backup. Cloud is the most cost-efficient, reliable arrangement in which to enable IT infrastructure backup.

As cloud computing gains increasing market share it is not surprising that IT directors are leveraging the technology to protect data. IT leaders may select cloud backup because onsite data centers are running out of capacity, to add backup for collocated server racks or existing managed hosting and cloud services, or they simply don’t want the hassle of maintaining a backup system.

Cloud backup is not a “one size fits all” solution. IT directors should closely examine these five areas to determine which approach will best fit their specific requirements and poise the following questions to their service provider:

Self-service automation:

Rather than logging a ticket with a provider and then waiting for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours or more, a self-service interface can easily allow the IT director to restore a specific file or data. It cuts down on recovery times, providing companies with greater flexibility.  However, there are cases where a more robust restoration is required at the application level, which may not be allowed through these portals. IT directors must have visibility into how cloud backup providers allow for complex, involved application restorations such as a SQL Servers or Active Directory.

Questions to ask a service provider: Do you provide application level backup and for which applications? Which ones are supported for self-service restore?


Geographic availability: 

IT directors need to answer the question: what is the availability of a cloud provider’s systems across various geographic regions (so that data may be backed up wherever the company chooses)?  Immediate availability of data for offices located around the world is essential, as well as the ability to restore within another cloud service, on-premise or within a managed services solution.

Questions to ask a service provider: Where is your backup service available today? Which features are available in which location?

Migrational movement of data:

For test/dev situations, a company may want to backup data and applications within a cloud that can be restored within a different geographical region. For example, if developers are working on a new application at a U.S.-based office and the Australian team wants to play with it before production, that team could easily pull it down from the cloud and test it fully before production.

Questions to ask a service provider: If I backup a server on-premise, can I restore in the cloud? Can I restore in any cloud location?

Simplified management:

For those IT directors who want a hassle-free method for protecting the infrastructure or who may not have the administrative resources to handle backup and restore process in-house, self-service portals combined with managed services can be a good option. Outsourcing the management and backup process to a service provider eliminates frustration and pain points.

Questions to ask a service provider: Do you offer a white-glove managed backup service? Is it the same technology as your self-service offering?

Backup of the cloud itself:

Not only does an IT director need to ensure that data is properly backed up to the cloud, but there is also the need to protect the data and applications hosted within the cloud. If a company is using cloud services from a public cloud provider and an issue occurs, having those applications and associated files backed up in another cloud with a separate provider for immediate restoration can eliminate any downtime.

Question to ask a service provider: Can I use your backup service to backup a cloud server on a competitor’s cloud?