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The data your organization produces every second of every day is what runs and differentiates your business. In fact, data is the lifeblood of modern organizations. Unlike applications and services which you can repair, reinstall or remedy if they fail, data is irreplaceable, and losing data could be catastrophic for your business.

Backing up data has been part of IT operations since the 1950s when computer operators made duplicate copies of their punch cards to protect work from being lost. Since then, data backup solutions have matured and transformed as technology advanced. Today, media can back up to disk instead of tape, and enterprise backup software solutions offer innovative new ways to protect data as volumes increase, backup windows diminish, and high availability requirements intensify. The proliferation of the internet has created the next logical step in this evolution, the ability to backup data to the cloud.

The internet transforms almost every aspect of technological society and data protection benefits from the opportunities online services offers. Online backups have advanced since their introduction and now offer many innovative technical features such as improved compression algorithms with significantly reduced data transfer times. However, the real advantages of online backups are not the technical features on offer, but the business benefits organizations can realize when moving their backups to the cloud.

Cloud migration is top of mind for many organizations. However, many businesses looking to take advantage of the opportunities cloud-based services offer are hesitant to start this journey. Unknowns such as costs, viability, and the impact this has on their business create barriers to entry for organizations looking to migrate to the cloud. Starting a cloud migration with online backups can address these issues to a certain extent. They provide a risk-free approach for organizations to test the viability of the cloud before committing time and resources to an extensive migration.


1. Minimal impact

Backing up your data is a core requirement in any IT operating environment. However, even though backups are critical and form an essential component of daily IT operations, they live on the periphery of production. Any change or event which impacts your backups can have a limited effect on other day-to-day transactional systems. In fact, backups could be taken offline completely without any impact to your business operations apart from introducing a moderate element of risk.

Making changes to your backup solution will have a limited impact on your other production systems making backups a prime candidate for cloud migration. Also, moving backups to an online cloud service only impact IT and not your end-user base. It means the change management required, both from a technical and organizational point of view, is minimal. However, to mitigate any risk moving backups to the cloud, like any other IT project involving a solution migration, must take place in parallel where legacy systems remain online until the replacement platform is fully functional.


2. Lower costs

Enterprise backup infrastructure can be expensive. The backup server and storage platform need hardware, and there are software licensing costs. Don’t underestimate the management overhead of running an on-premise backup infrastructure, either. Servers and storage need maintaining, and the solution itself requires special skills to ensure backups are running optimally.

Getting started with online backups has a very low barrier to entry. As this is a subscription-based service you only pay for what you use and getting the solution up and running is simple and straightforward. It makes cloud backups more cost-efficient over the long-term as there is no underutilized infrastructure burdening your asset register. Besides, moving your backups to the cloud has a positive effect on cash flow as the high capital outlay required to procure and maintain an on-premise solution is gone.


3. Increased efficiency and better management

Administering backup infrastructure takes time and effort as the hardware and software managing the solution needs to be monitored and maintained. Also, ensuring you have backup data stored offsite, which is a compliance requirement, also needs to be supervised and controlled.

Online backups increase efficiencies as the backup vendor providing the service takes responsibility for the management of the day-to-day operational activities. In addition, backing up your data to an online platform increases your business agility with simpler and faster data restore options. This is due to the unrestricted data storage facilities online backup services offer where you can perform full backups as often as you like without needing to settle for differentials or incrementals. Furthermore, as the market for online backups grows, backup vendors are investing heavily in adding features and improving performance where continuous innovation is leading to even greater operational efficiencies.


4. Compliance

Just backing up your data is not enough. A legitimate data protection strategy must ensure backed-up data is taken offsite. Not only is this a regulatory compliance requirement, but it is also essential for the protection of your business.

Online backup solutions provide offsite capability and full compliance without needing to take any additional measures. Not only does this ease the management burden of shipping backup tapes or external hard drives offsite on a regular basis, but it also improves efficiency as you only need to backup data once. Also, restore times are faster as you do not need to physically retrieve your backup media when you need to restore from an offsite copy.


5. Increased security

Securing your backed-up data should be a fundamental function of not only your overall backup process but of your enterprise security strategy. Unlike an isolated system breach which would affect a subset of your data, a security incident affecting your backup solution will compromise all your data.

A data breach affecting an online backup service provider would be catastrophic to their business. To ensure the data under their care is protected from possible compromise, online vendors must ensure the security measures they have in place are failsafe. In addition, because they have economies of scale, backup vendors can also invest more time and resources in data backup security than a business running a traditional on-premise solution. Since your backed-up data streams electronically, online backups also offer the added security benefit of mitigating the risk of a backup tape or drive being lost or stolen. Taking all these factors into account, it is clear that online backups offer greater security to your backed-up data than traditional on-premise solutions.

Written by The Sherweb Team Collaborators @ Sherweb