How long would it take you to recover your company’s most critical data from your most recent backup tapes? Surprisingly, any companies don’t know – and if they did, they’d probably be troubled. We’ve conditioned ourselves to accept the limitations of old-fashioned backup schemes and technologies, without realizing that better techniques have come along that better meet our business needs. The advent of cloud computing, and particularly cloud storage, now offers us the ability to create a hybrid IT model that really solves our business needs – and gets us back online faster in the event of a disaster. In fact, this new model of cloud storage can help address some of the problems with our entire storage plan – not just backup and recovery.

Three Business Needs Your Current Storage Plan Doesn’t Meet
Ask most companies what their backup plan involves, and they’ll probably say, “Backup tapes.” Magnetic tape has been the primary medium for backups since the 1970s. Some companies store their backup tapes on-site, while others will smile knowingly and say that they send their tapes off-site for safekeeping. Nobody realizes, however, that those tapes aren’t meeting their business needs. The same thing applies to our storage plans in general: Just dumping everything on a file server in the office doesn’t actually meet all of our business needs. We need to really examine those business needs, and look for ways to meet them, going beyond what we’ve done with storage for so many years.

Backup Windows
Tape backups usually consist of a snapshot of your data, taken during some kind of backup or maintenance window – usually at night. Any data that’s changed or been created since the last tape backup is always at risk until the next backup is made – meaning we’re potentially going to lose a day or more of critical data if a problem occurs.

This limited-time backup windows place restrictions on what we can back up, too: We can only protect as much data as we can cram onto a tape (or set of tapes) during the backup window’s duration. We’re constantly longing for faster tape drives, bigger tape cartridges, and faster transfer times so that we can grab more data during that precious window.
Cloud storage proposes to change the way you create and use backups by storing your data in highly-protected data centers outside your own facility – meaning your data is always safely backed up off-site, without any effort on your part.

When we actually need to use those tape backups, we’re left to sit and wait while data slowly streams off tape – while our business is losing money because we need that data. This is actually the biggest problem with old-fashioned backup techniques and storage plans: Tapes make for a safe, easy-to-carry form of backup, but they take forever to actually use when you need to recover data.

With cloud storage, there is much less time required to recover. Cloud storage vendors build highly-available, highly-redundant storage vaults so that your data is simply there when you need it, all the time.

Storage Utilization
How well do you actually utilize all that storage you’ve paid for – and that you pay to protect? Having a lot of extra storage lying around is like having an empty room in your house – it begs to be filled, and once you do, you’ll have to manage it. Many companies place tight restrictions on what kind of data goes onto their storage, because they know they’ll have to back it up – within that limited backup window. Restrictions mean that your storage isn’t doing everything for you that it could, simply because you feel constrained to only store what you know you can protect.

Cloud storage helps to remove those constraints. You won’t run out of backup storage, and you’ll feel better about actually utilizing your storage because you know it’ll be protected.

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