Archive for the ‘Cloud Computing’ Category

Moving Your Data To The Cloud: Costs & Security

 

Cloud Migration is the term used for the process of moving data to the Cloud, and it would involve a lot of considerations. Few important ones are cost, security, performance parameters, interoperability, business continuity and so on. However, all of these would be dependent on what is being moved and to what type of Cloud.

Typically, organizations move data, applications, as well as a few other essential business elements to the Cloud. Most often, the data is being moved from the local servers or data centers to the Cloud. There could also be a Cloud to Cloud migration happening if you move from one Cloud to another.

Why Cloud Migration?

The move to the Cloud should ideally be a well-thought-out move; it is done in the interest of greater flexibility, offering better customer services, achieving seamless traction among the workforce, convenience, high availability, avoiding redundancy and to be cost-effective. For most small and medium enterprises, the Cloud is a more attractive and inexpensive option, as compared to owning on-site hardware. This is more so since many big players are offering some free options to their customers. And the flexibility of the various paid options, like pay per use or on-demand services, makes it a highly competitive option. This is especially so when faced with having to deliver aggressive financial results.

Also, with data security as the main concern for most organizations, the move to the Cloud seems to be a smart one. Most Cloud service providers have put in place extensive security features, as a combination of high-end software, and hardware technologies. Organizations can negotiate appropriate contracts with specific SLAs on the terms that matter most to them, to protect their interests. Also, there are laid down government regulations that these providers need to comply with, assuring certain built-in levels of security.

Moving data to the Cloud also takes care of issues related to the physical security of the data and applications. It eliminates risk from incidents like fire, natural disasters, physical attacks, data loss caused through staff ignorance or deliberate attempts to destroy the same, etc.

When most of the services are running 24*7, the Cloud assures easy access, speed, efficiency, scalability, better customer experiences and is sustainable in the long run. Also, data and applications on Cloud are better equipped for the constant changes necessitated by the highly evolving technologies. All these points make for a strong case for organizations to move to the Cloud.

Cloud Migration Strategies

The decision to move to the Cloud may well be an easy one, but not so easy is arriving at the Cloud migration strategy. Deciding on what to move, how and when, will have to be discussed and concluded based on many factors. These factors will have to look at mission-critical aspects like service continuity, the applications to be moved, the dependency mapping, the topology, the appropriate Cloud hosting environment, and whether to make the move in phases or one in one go, etc.

The goals of each and every organization will differ and hence, the Cloud migration strategy will depend on that. The most important of the decisions would be on what to move, and to what type of Cloud; whether Public, Private or a Hybrid one. It would be good to have a pilot migration phase, to evaluate load, performance, security, interoperability, dependency, and most of all, business continuity.

Industry experts say that there are chances that Cloud migration can go wrong if all aspects are not considered as they should. Application issues, network issues, staff awareness and knowledge issues, tool issues, and so on, are just a few of the things that can affect the migration. Choosing the right provider and the right migration tools can help reduce or eliminate these issues. Most Cloud service providers, including the major players like Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, offer migration services and tools.

Microsoft Azure advisor, AWS Trusted Advisor, Azure Migrate, Azure Site Recovery, AWS Migration Hub, AWS Application Discovery Service, Google Cloud Storage Transfer Service, Google Transfer Appliance, etc. are a few tools on offer from these biggies. Many organizations also use the DIY type of tools or even create their own.

Costs

To calculate the costs related to Cloud migration to decide its viability, you need to start with your existing IT infrastructure. A thorough audit of the current status, taking into account all direct and indirect costs, would be a solid starting point. Direct costs are simpler to calculate as they include software, hardware, maintenance, staff, physical facility, Internet and such. Indirect costs include productivity losses due to any reason, damaged reputation, service/server downtime, and customer dissatisfaction. The logs can help you with the downtime calculation, and customer satisfaction surveys with the things that are probably not right at the moment.

The next step would be to calculate your estimated Cloud infrastructure costs, which can be done rather easily with the help of tools like:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Calculator. There is also an in-depth monthly cost calculator that can help immensely.
  • Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator
  • Microsoft Azure’s Pricing Calculator
  • Rackspace’s calculator
  • IBM Bluemix’s calculator

Almost all the Cloud Service providers are providing consulting services that can help the organizations through the various stages of Cloud Migration, including the cost calculation.

Security

The biggest concern for most organizations in the move to the Cloud has to be the safety of the data, especially confidential and sensitive data. In the last few years, the technologies related to Cloud storage security have evolved by leaps and bounds. The credibility of such services has been strengthened with the likes of:

  • Firewalls
  • Intrusion detection systems
  • Monitoring, metrics, and logs
  • Encryption
  • Data governance

These are apart from the heightened security that these providers enforce at places where the physical servers are located.

Firewalls ensure that only authenticated have access to the specified data, and are implemented as a Software-as-a-service firewall (SaaS firewall), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). The intrusion detection mechanisms in the form of host-based (HIDS), and network-based (NIDS) or application-based, protect against cyber attacks. The various monitoring applications, their logs, and benchmark metrics ensure timely alerts to avert and handle any untoward incidents.

But, the most important of all the security aspects is encryption, which is a watertight technique that uses authenticating credentials and encryption keys. There are regulations regarding certain usages, which Cloud Solution providers need to comply with, and hence if those are met, you are assured about safety to a great extent. The human error aspect though, cannot be overlooked. It is important for all staff accessing the Cloud, to understand the importance of simple things like password rules to complex things like sharing information with only those that need to know.

Most Cloud Storage facilities also provide you control of Data Governance to manage your data. However, the underlying protection mechanisms against data loss and recovery from such incidents are usually in-built as well. These include periodic backup to servers in alternate locations, instant recovery to ensure business continuity, and more. Service Level Agreements based on what is important to achieve as metrics for your organization can be arrived at, with the Cloud Service providers.

Cloud Storage Security – How Secure is Your Data In The Cloud?

 

The importance of Cloud Storage Solutions in today’s context can be easily understood from two statistics. 90% of organizations surveyed as part of a Cloud transformation survey say that they use some kind of Cloud service. Growing at an impressive five-year CAGR rate of 19%, Cloud Computing service is set to touch $53.3 billion in 2021. These two statistics indicate the growth and the impact of Cloud and related technologies have had on the IT and storage industry.

Perhaps, this is why Cloud solutions are in great demand across the world; those who have already moved their data to the Cloud, look for more features and cost-effectiveness. Those who haven’t yet made the switch, study the use cases to understand what is viable and how best to make the move. Perhaps, one day, it all will exist there on the Cloud. That does put an enormous onus on the security aspect of Cloud. It will necessarily come under intense scrutiny and will have to withstand those, to ensure safety, security, continuity, reliability, and more.

Cloud Storage Security is, therefore, one of the hottest discussion topics, and many technology companies have ensured that their Cloud solutions take care of all these aspects. And yet, breaches do happen, and that is why it is important to understand, how secure our data is in the Cloud. It is also good to know, what kind of technologies enable security and how good they are. In the long run, whether the privacy of personal data or organizational data of a sensitive nature, decisions on Cloud usage will depend on these.

Why Cloud?

Organizations, whether small or big, turn to Cloud for multiple reasons, namely safety, security, easy universal (remote) 24*7 access, cost-cutting, convenience, saving space, and more. Basically, these are a set of servers connected to the Internet, and people can access the data at any time, using the authentication provided to them.

Going by the typical one size may not suit all philosophy, Cloud storage solutions have also evolved across the years to suit organizations of various sizes and their nature of business. Some of the solutions offered are highly flexible and unique in nature also.

Typically three kinds of Cloud solutions, namely, Public Cloud, Private Cloud, and Hybrid Cloud are the solutions offered. In a Public Cloud, you may not get much of a choice in customizing the usage, and many users share the same Cloud. One of the biggest USPs for Public Cloud is that is affordable.

In a Private Cloud, you have complete control of your data storage, including the hosting as well as the infrastructure and security measures to a great extent. These are obviously expensive solutions, which may not suit all organizations.

The Hybrid Cloud is a mix of both that allows affordability as well as customization; kind of a mix of the best of both worlds. This suits many organizations that prefer to keep certain sensitive data private, and the rest as public to save costs.

Cloud Storage Security

It is given that Cloud Storage Solutions come with various security features; else, they cannot function, and they have no credibility or existence. To attain high levels of security, Cloud storage vendors apply many methodologies like:

  • Physical security
  • Firewalls
  • Intrusion detection systems
  • Monitoring, metrics, and logs
  • Encryption
  • Data governance

Physical Security

Ultimately, all the Cloud data are actually residing on a physical server somewhere. Hence, the security of these physical Servers is as important as the protection of the data residing in them. Cloud vendors ensure 24*7 security of these locations using all possible measures including armed security guards, and fingerprint locks for access.  Even natural disasters like an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, or an accidental fire can cause havoc with the physical data centers. Hence, data center locations should be chosen ideally by the vendor and should follow the required government regulations.

Even simple aspects like cooling and power back-up are important aspects of physical security. Every employee working in such premises should be trained thoroughly and also monitored for their activities. Background security checks for these people are a must to ensure that they do not cause any threats for the physical Servers. Infallible surveillance systems are also a necessity in the location of the physical Servers.

Firewalls

These are a safety mechanism that has been in existence since the time the Network and Internet took off. Firewalls ensure access only to authorized users, and there are external as well as internal firewalls. Some advanced firewalls check the source, destination, the data packets, and more.

Cloud firewalls are specially designed software that can detect, and mitigate unwanted access into the Cloud. The different types of Cloud firewalls that are currently in use are:

  • Software-as-a-service firewall (SaaS firewall): These are also referred to as Security-as-a-service (SECaaS) and Firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS). They are specifically designed to protect an organization’s network and users.
  • Next-Gen Firewalls: In this option, the terms Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model come into play. They are designed to protect an organization’s own server and are deployed into a virtual data center, to secure all incoming or outgoing traffic of a Cloud.

Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

Typically, intrusion detection mechanisms are one of the key countermeasures that aid cybersecurity attacks. It is the process of monitoring all activities that happen in a system and further investigating them for any signs of possible security breaches or any such threats, or any activity that does not comply with the standard or established security practices.

They usually fall into two categories namely, host-based (HIDS), and network-based (NIDS) or application-based. The IDS is further classified into signature-based detection wherein the patterns are known, and anomaly-based attacks, wherein the patterns are not known. The Host-based ones monitor a single host and the network-based ones monitor the network traffic.

Based on previous attacks, a signature database is maintained and this helps the signature-based detection mechanisms accurately to monitor and map the intrusion to certain identified patterns. Information is gathered from multiple levels of a Cloud architecture for identifying patterns, and any new patterns are also meticulously updated in the signature database.

In anomaly detection mechanisms, they do not rely on anything specific as such, and simply identify any deviations from normal behavior at any level of the architecture. Multiple detection techniques such as statistical, machine learning and knowledge-based are used for this. In the statistical-based technique, certain random observations are relied upon to represent the system behavior. The knowledge-based mechanism uses pre-defined system knowledge, to capture any form of intrusion. The machine learning technique uses certain base models, created for the purpose of classifying data as normal or anomalous.

Monitoring, Metrics, and Logs

Cloud monitoring refers to the various actions, and methodologies that are used to monitor the complete Cloud systems, to arrive at benchmarks that dictate the levels of access and desired outcomes. Metrics, logs, audits, reports, and alerts are a big part of this monitoring activity, and the various aspects of Cloud being monitored are websites, applications, virtual machines, databases, networks, user access, and storage. Even application performances and user experiences can be monitored, to better understand the overall system behavior. The other aspects that should be monitored are cost, security, and data backup/recovery.

Encryption

This happens to be one of the most important and effective aspects of Cloud security. Most Cloud Storage Solution providers offer encryption to their users to ensure the safety of the data being moved to the Cloud. This is more so in the case of sensitive data, and not just data, even the connections may be encrypted. The users are provided with the corresponding decryption keys so that they can seamlessly access and use the data.

The encryption and decryption are implemented in many ways to ensure the security of the data and only people with the right credentials can access the data. Besides, there are many regulatory compliances related to this like the HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, etc. which need to be adhered to, depending on the industry. Most Cloud Storage Solution providers do mention their compliances and encryption mechanisms in place so that you can make informed decisions.

Data Governance

Data loss can happen as data destruction, data corruption, or unauthorized access. Security breaches, malfunction of applications or the infrastructure, software or human errors, are the main reasons for data loss. Data protection measures to minimize data loss can be achieved using certain measures.

  • Disk level data protection like RAID, or Scale-out storage
  • Automated periodic data backups
  • Data replication

The efficiency of any Cloud Storage Solution will depend on its capabilities to prevent the loss and also to recover the data in the ultimate incident of a loss. Service Level Agreements may be out in place to ensure safety and damage recovery, in the worst case of any losses, as usually, that involves, business continuity, reputation, business loss and more. Data replication and backup, especially, the other set of data being stored in an alternate location helps even in the case of disasters like an earthquake or a fire. The complete set of measures put in place to address the Data loss and prevention is what is termed as the Data Governance of a Cloud environment.

Cloud Storage Security Risks

It is obvious that there are a lot of security risks when it comes to Cloud Storage security. This is why we have the industry putting so much emphasis on security, and sometimes despite the best intentions, breaches happen. Common cyber attacks that happen are ransomware, phishing, and denial of service. The cost of these attacks is said to touch billions of dollars and the projection is that it will touch $6 trillion by 2021. Obviously, security and data breaches are huge.

Most often, employees are also the cause of inadvertent breaches, due to lack of training or awareness about its importance. Sharing passwords, or weak passwords, or a general lack of phishing mechanisms, etc. lead to such situations. Multi-factor authentication can be put in place to ensure password leaks can be capped. Also, the commonly known attack signatures should have strong detection, prevention, and address mechanisms in place. Some security drills can also help employees to understand the seriousness of the issue at hand.

The Takeaway

In conclusion, it is evident that Cloud Storage Solutions are here to stay, and that these will evolve along with the industry and its expectations. Security of Cloud data will always be of prime importance and Cloud providers are well aware of this. Statistics indicate a healthy trend in more organizations moving to the Cloud, rather than away from it.

It is important for all organizations to do create a Cloud strategy before making the move. Based on organizational goals and needs, all aspects should be discussed with the Cloud service provider and SLAs should be put in place in the contract to safeguard the interests. The benefits of shifting to the Cloud, by far, outweigh the risks at this point of time; and convenience and ease of doing business, and better customer experiences will make it imperative.

System Admin Guide for Cloud Storage

Image result for cloud storage

 

Cloud storage is slowly replacing local on-premise storage systems as the medium of choice for IT enterprises. This flexible, new-age solution stores data remotely without taking up physical space in the workplace or gigabytes on your system. All your data gets transferred online and stored offsite by a third-party. So, as long as you have a working Internet connection you can access your files anytime, anywhere.

How Cloud Storage Works

Cloud storage uses hosted servers to store your data. Hosting companies own and manage the remote servers. Given the number of cloud storage providers in the market right now, the maintenance and size of cloud storage systems vary considerably depending on the provider. Small cloud storage systems consist of just one data server connected to the Internet, while some – called server farms – occupy whole warehouses.

Many of the leading cloud storage providers like Amazon S3, Azure File System, Amazon Glacier, and Wasabi maintain such large data centers to store data from across the world.

So which cloud storage is the best for IT system admins? Well, every provider has its share of pros and cons, and you need to make an informed decision for your business:

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)

This is one of the most durable, secure, and high-performing cloud storage services in the market right now. It not only manages accounts at each level but scales on demand and provides insights thanks to built-in analytics.

The web interface is extremely easy to use with excellent reliability and security. Highly configurable, Amazon S3 also boasts flexible storage and pricing options. No wonder the storage provider has become the industry standard for IT data storage, especially in case of enterprise operations. However, the fact that Amazon developed S3 to be an IT-oriented solution doesn’t make it any less user-friendly.

Amazon S3 does not feature backup applications or storage sync. Instead, it comes bundled with IT-centric APIs and tools. Plus, desktop functionality requires third-party products and the pricing structure can be somewhat confusing initially. Overall, it is efficient, secure, and cost-effective.

AWS Glacier

If your IT firm deals with archival data that requires backup without the need for regular retrieval, Amazon Glacier is a perfect choice. This is one of the cheapest cloud-based data storage options that can be used as part of the whole suite of Amazon tools without leaving the familiar stack.

What makes AWS Glacier stand out is the efficient backup storage where the data becomes tiny fragments of the whole project, costing considerably less than other solutions. Your data stays secure. This special storage class trades access time for a price, which means reading data from AWS Glacier may take hours or even days. So, long-term access is your best bet.

The fact that bucket and data deletion requires inventory is a drawback. Also, data retrieval may prove expensive since the download quota for system admins is a small percent of the storage.

AWS Glacier constantly adds new, powerful additions such as:

  • The ability to upgrade restore speeds upon request
  • The ability to send objects directly
  • Additional, lower-priced storage tier called S3 Glacier Deep Archive
  • The ability to receive S3 event notifications after data retrieval

Such additions make this solution an even stronger option for long-term archival.

Azure Files

Azure Files provide fully managed file-sharing services in the cloud that can be accessed by IT companies. Mount Azure File shares on the cloud and cache it on Windows servers using Azure File sync for quick access.

Azure Files will prove useful if your IT company deals mainly with standard file extensions like .png, .docx, and .bak. It simplifies cloud development and can “lift and shift” apps. Azure Files, however, cannot split files and you must rely on third-party vendors.

In case of disaster recovery, Azure Files users can try Copy File to asynchronously copy file share to the destination user storage account.

Wasabi

Launched in May 2017, Wasabi is a relative newcomer in the cloud storage arena. However, the company has experienced tremendous success within a short period. And it’s mainly due to the solution itself, which is blindingly fast, affordable and secure, making it highly accessible to IT companies.

If you want a cloud storage option that is cheap and quick and is not concerned about a few rough edges, Wasabi is the best option out there. There is no sync tool available for the storage provider along with no official mobile apps. You must pay extra for telephonic support.

Price Guide Between Different Services

Price is often the deciding factor when choosing the right cloud storage provider since most system admins work with a limited IT budget:

Amazon S3

Amazon S3 starts at $0.023 per GB every month for the first 50 TBs. But the price drops as the total data stored in Amazon S3 increases. This means you pay precisely for what you use. This makes it difficult to provide an accurate entry-level cost estimate. However, there is a calculator available if you wish to know your total monthly cost.

A free tier is available from Amazon for the first 5 GB of data. This is a nice way to determine if the service meets your IT company’s requirements.

AWS Glacier

Amazon S3 Glacier is the lowest price point available and it supports long-term data storage and backup. Access times can be quite slow so the price rises the quicker you wish to access your data. However, transferring data up to the service is free.

Azure Files

Standard Azure Files storage costs $0.06 per used GB. It costs $0.015 to put and create every 10,000 container operations. It’s the same rate for every 10,000 list operations.

Wasabi

Wasabi gives Amazon Glacier stiff competition when it comes to pricing at the low, low price point of $0.0049 per GB. There is a minimum waterline of 1 TB storage, however, which means users must pay a minimum of $5 per month. However, it’s still considerably cheaper than what Microsoft Azure and AWS charge other system admins.

Wasabi has eliminated download costs but you can still opt for the plan at the cheaper price of $0.0039 per GB for space. The basic version of the support plan is free but the Premium costs $300 each month.

Concluding Remarks

Selecting the right cloud storage provider for your IT company requires careful consideration, especially from a business perspective. Consider your budget and options, and choose a provider who offers the optimal amount of bandwidth, data security, and storage. If necessary, try the free plans (if available) for all the options listed above before arriving at the solution.

 

Hybrid Cloud Architecture: What Is It and Why You Should Care?

 

The term Cloud is not new to most people associated with the IT industry, and for as long as data reigns, it does appear as if Cloud is here to stay. Like many other services and technologies that have changed the paradigms in this volatile industry, Cloud is evolving too. And since the evolution is dictated by the need of the industry (customers), it is happening at a rather fast pace. Perhaps, a tad bit fast for many to keep up with and hence it is natural for a term like Hybrid Cloud to arouse curiosity in many.

To understand Hybrid Cloud and its architecture, one may need to step back in time to when Cloud services started taking shape. Perhaps, not until the launch of Amazon Web Services in 2002, did the industry sit up and take notice of the Cloud as a disruptor in the data storage, sharing and services domain. With Google also joining in, it was clear that Cloud was the way to go for enterprises.

It was obvious that this service could scale easily, handles dynamic loads, and was also easy on the pocket. Bingo, the industry was seemed to have found something to wow about! But, of course, every new technology and service brings with it some thought-provoking issues, and so did Cloud; outages, security and data breaches, control, reliability, and regulations, necessitated changes in the Cloud services.

Understanding Cloud

The Cloud is nothing, but a set of Servers, put together for special purposes and people access the Cloud to work with it. Typically, two terms Private Cloud and Public Cloud were commonly associated with Cloud Computing. In a Private Cloud, it meant that someone (could be a customer/organization or a related group of people) owned/rented the Cloud fully and had full access to it, and no one else could share it.  However, a Public Cloud was like any other public service, which meant that people could ‘rent’ the Cloud or part of it and related services for a designated fee. Therefore, more than one unrelated entity could rent the Cloud, and it also meant that the Cloud was off-premises. A Private Cloud, on the other hand, could be off-site or on-site, as desired by the people owning/renting it.

There were occasions or situations where enterprises felt like they wanted to have the best of both worlds of the Private and Public Clouds. This meant that for various purposes that suited their business goals, they wanted to have access to a mixed kind of environment which gave them access to both. In other words, organizations needed the flexibility of being able to shift between the Private and Public Clouds, as and when the need arose. This would mean a mix of on-site and off-premises environments, however, enabled with necessary access control for seamless workflows. Hence, there could also be a third party that enabled the access and the movement between the two Clouds. Simply put, this is what is referred to as a Hybrid Cloud.

Requisites for a Hybrid Cloud

If you need to set up a Hybrid Cloud for your enterprise, then the components needed are:

  • Access to a Public Cloud platform like AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, etc.
  • A Private Cloud, hosted either on or off premises as per your choice
  • Provision of requisite network connectivity between the two, to function seamlessly

The point that enterprises need to keep in mind while architecting their Private Cloud, is that it should be compatible with the Public Cloud. This is because they have no control over the Public Cloud architecture and may not also be allowed customization or flexibility to a great extent. Depending on the needs and the business goals, the IT team of the enterprises setting up the Private Cloud may need to plan for containers or virtual machines (VM) to achieve their goals. It is while planning and setting up these components of the Private Cloud that the compatibility with the Public Cloud should be considered.

Why Hybrid Cloud?

Why should enterprises consider going in for Hybrid Cloud is somewhat answered above in the history of its evolution. However, it is good to look at the benefits that can be derived from it, to understand this aspect better. Security is one of the major advantages of having a Hybrid Cloud, as discussions around this are what triggered its evolution.

The other key benefits and advantages are:

  • Flexibility – There is a comfort in being able to move non-sensitive information out to a readily available Cloud, based on demand. This is achieved through Cloud Bursting; it refers to the temporarily use of the Public Cloud when the demand exceeds the available Private Cloud resources. Also, enterprises could test their scenarios for a while and see what suits them best, and then move fully on to the Public or the Private Cloud, if need be.
  • Scalability – Enterprises can easily scale up or down depending on their need, again due to Cloud Bursting.
  • Reduced cost – With good planning and effective use of the Hybrid Cloud, enterprises can manage to save significantly on their incurred cost.
  • Agility – This is a primary benefit of the Hybrid Cloud as it allows dynamic changes rather fast, as decision making can be faster based on available resources. Agility translates into competitive advantages, as agility counts for a lot.
  • Reliability – Reliability comes from having distributed Servers and storage using the Public and Private Cloud and also, having greater control over the data flows, especially for sensitive data. It also allows for faster access to mission-critical resources.

Suitability checks

While there are many enterprises that vouch by Hybrid Clouds, it is necessarily not suited for all. As mentioned above, it is the business goals that could determine which type of Cloud you may want to go with. Small organizations with very low IT budgets, may not want to venture into setting up a Private Cloud/Hybrid Cloud.

Speed is also another factor that could drive this decision as there could be the latency factor coming into the Hybrid Cloud. Because of the various components involved in the interaction, connectivity issues or disruptions may also happen. Ideally, this is not suited for mission-critical, always available kinds of workloads. But, the takeaway from this all, is that Hybrid Cloud does provide enterprises with the best of both worlds and help plan for the future as well.

System Admin Guide to IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is one of the most important innovations of this era. It has completely changed the way companies harness and manage computing power. For those who don’t know anything about IaaS, this is a cloud computing model where vendors provide virtualized computer infrastructure for companies through the cloud.

IaaS allows companies to run their servers, networks, operating systems, data centers, and other computing resources without having to manage them on-premise. Therefore, companies get to save money that would otherwise have been spent on providing hardware and software. With that said, companies still have complete control over their data and services with the IaaS model.

According to Gartner, in 2018, the global IaaS market grew by 31.3 percent to $32.4 billion, and it is expected to be the top segment in the public cloud service market this year. The top five vendors in the IaaS sector are Amazon, Microsoft, Alibaba, Google, and IBM, respectively. IaaS vendors provide flexible subscription packages, which allows both small startups and behemoth companies to make the most of their computing infrastructure. Many of the fastest-growing companies in the world today, including Netflix, rely on IaaS to provide their services.

 

What’s the Role of a System Administrator in the IaaS Model

As a system administrator, one of the first things to consider when your organization is opting for IaaS is how the cloud computing model will affect your job. IaaS does not make the system administrator redundant. System admins are still needed to set up, deploy, monitor, and manage the virtual platform. While these duties would be nothing new for experienced system admins, it is important to understand your company’s requirements, educate yourself on the latest techniques, and study the different IaaS platforms available.

While the role of system admins may be slightly different when organizations depend on IaaS, they are still at the heart of corporate IT. It is the duty of the system admin to ensure that the company’s virtual platforms are secure and are running smoothly without any hiccups. This may seem simple, but can be onerous and time-consuming. There are many things to monitor, like the IaaS platform, virtualization software, end-user applications, networks, and more.

Since we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s briefly look at the top IaaS vendors today.

 

Top IaaS Vendors

 

  1. Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Web Services is the leading IaaS vendor in the world. There is a vast range of tools to choose from as well as third-party add-ons. AWS offers many services that you will not get from rival IaaS vendors. Also, it supports different operating systems. You can use AWS to build any type of cloud service that you need. Its flexible pricing strategy makes AWS suitable for both big and small companies. If you are looking for a sophisticated IaaS vendor that has all the tools you’ll possibly need to maximize your virtual computing infrastructure, AWS is your best choice.

 

  1. Microsoft Azure

Microsoft Azure is another popular IaaS vendor. It started out as a platform as a service (PaaS) platform when it was launched in 2010. Azure has grown over the years. It is the perfect IaaS service for creating, testing, and managing apps. However, its uses are not limited to this. As you may have guessed, Azure’s virtual infrastructure depends on Microsoft’s data centers. This platform is compatible with both Windows and Linux operating systems. Azure’s prices are quite flexible. Depending on what you need, you can opt for the free version of this service or the higher enterprise-level version. The cost of the service depends on which services you are using.

 

  1. Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud is another big name in the IaaS market. Alibaba Cloud is the number one IaaS vendor in Asia, according to Gartner. The company has a 19.6 percent share in the Asia Pacific market. Alibaba provides most of the same services that you will get from AWS and Azure.  Alibaba Cloud is available around the world and supports different operating systems, including Linux and Ubuntu. Alibaba Cloud is lacking in terms of customization options. However, you can tailor it to your organization’s requirements. While there have been some complaints about its stability, the platform is generally stable. Like its competitors, Alibaba Cloud uses a subscription payment model.

 

  1. Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform is one of the most trusted IaaS vendors on the market. It comes with a range of cloud-based services, and you can scale the platform according to your requirements. It supports Linux as well as Windows. Although Google Cloud Platform is not the number one in terms of popularity, it is one of the most robust. The IaaS platform depends on Google’s multiple service centers across the globe. Google Cloud Platform is easy to use, and it is available for GCP users. The main downside of Google’s IaaS is that it is not as cheap as AWS. However, it is very reliable and provides all the tools you could possibly need to maximize your cloud infrastructure.

 

  1. IBM Cloud

IBM Cloud is a powerful full-stack cloud vendor. It is an IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS platform. IBM Cloud provides most of the same IaaS services that you will get from other platforms as well as some unique services. For example, you can harness the power of IBM Watson AI through the service. Although IBM Cloud has a lot of excellent features, it is not ranked as high as AWS and Azure. IBM Cloud has a flexible subscription model. You can choose to pay for the service hourly or monthly, depending on your needs. This IaaS platform is suitable for both big and small companies.

 

  1. OVH Cloud

OVH Cloud is a major player in the IaaS market, although it is not as popular as some of the vendors on this list. OVH is creating new data centers across the world to improve the quality of the service it provides. This IaaS platform is easy to use and comes with automated backups. OVH Cloud is very stable and comes with most of the same tools you will get from popular IaaS vendors. OVH Cloud is particularly suited for small companies due to its affordable pricing. However, it can also handle the demands of large companies.

 

Author – Rahul Sharma

 

What are the Differences Between On-Premise, Hybrid and Online File Sharing

File sharing is vital for every organization. In the digital age, there are different options open to organizations – on-premise file sharing, online or cloud file sharing, and hybrid file sharing. The question is which of these options is most advantageous for your organization.

On-Premise

As you can probably deduce from its name, on-premise file sharing involves hosting files on an organization’s IT infrastructure. This method of file sharing was very popular before the advent of cloud computing, and it is still widely used today.

With on-premise file sharing, apps and files are shared between computers through the local area network (LAN). Your IT team takes full responsibility for the network’s security as well as its performance. On-premise file sharing is quite straightforward. Some companies choose this option because of the sensitive nature of the information that they deal with, for example, financial firms. While on-premise file hosting and sharing can be safe, it is not entirely immune to risks. This is why it is essential to use the latest security protocols including encryption as well as antivirus and anti-ransomware protection.

Advantages of On-Premise File Hosting and Sharing

  1. You have complete control over your data without leaving it in the hands of a third-party.
  2. File sharing is faster and does not depend on an internet connection.
  3. Some apps work better on-premise than over the cloud.
  4. On-premise file hosting and sharing provide a lot of customization options.
  5. If your server is not connected to the internet, the chances of a data breach are drastically reduced.
  6. On-premise file storage and sharing make it easier to fulfill regulatory requirements in some sectors.

Disadvantages of On-Premise File Hosting and Sharing

  1. It can be expensive to get the necessary equipment to create a data center, which is why this is not the best option for some startups. Also, you have to maintain an IT team and need physical space for your data center, which adds up to more cost.
  2. On-premise file hosting and sharing make you more vulnerable to data loss if something happens to your data center.

Online File Sharing

Online file sharing is the trend today. Chances are that you are depending on cloud storage one way or another. Cloud file sharing involves hosting and sharing your files on a remote server. You can easily access your data through any device connected to the internet.

Online file sharing is a relatively inexpensive option as the duty of securing and managing the IT infrastructure is in the hands of your cloud service provider. There are many cloud platforms available today. Despite recent security incidents, cloud storage can be very safe if the proper security measures are deployed. For example, data must be encrypted while in storage and during transfer. It should be noted that cloud file sharing is not only limited to documents but also applications. You can access an application over the cloud without having to install it on your device.

Advantages of Online File Hosting and Sharing

  1. It makes your work more flexible. With online file hosting and storage, you can work remotely and hire people from different parts of the world.
  2. It is not costly to set up and operate. You do not have to maintain a large IT department or spend on equipment for an in-house data center.
  3. You can access your data using any device.
  4. Cloud platforms can be challenging to hack.
  5. You can easily backup data.

Disadvantages of Online File Hosting and Sharing

  1. If you do not choose a cloud platform
    that prioritizes on security, your data may be at risk.
  2. You need an internet connection to
    access your data.

Hybrid File Sharing

Hybrid file sharing combines features of on-premise and online file sharing. This means you’d still maintain your in-house IT infrastructure. However, you also use cloud storage. This may seem redundant, but there are many advantages of hybrid file storage and sharing. For example, with cloud sharing, your workers operating remotely can easily access files.

On the other hand, workers operating within your office premises can send and receive files faster using LAN connection. The cloud platform could also serve as a backup for your data. Alternatively, you can choose to store sensitive data on-premises and other files on the cloud.

Essentially, hybrid file sharing gives you the best of both worlds. This option is usually reserved for large organizations who have the necessary resources.

Advantages of Hybrid File Hosting and Sharing

  1. It improves flexibility in organizations, which translates to better efficiency.
  2. It provides guaranteed protection against data loss.
  3. Hybrid file sharing gives you more options to manage the security of your files.

Disadvantages of Hybrid File Hosting and Sharing

  1. It is a costly option. The cost of setting up and maintaining an in-house data center as well as a cloud storage account can be enormous for some organizations.

Which Option is Best?

There is no best option when selecting how to manage data in your organization. As you can see, each option has its advantages and disadvantages. The method to choose depends on your needs. Some organizations may be best suited for on-premises file sharing, while others may do best with cloud sharing or hybrid cloud sharing. The first step to determine which option to choose is to consult an IT expert to carry out an assessment of your organization’s data management needs.

On the surface, hybrid file sharing may be the best option. Most modern organizations tend to go for hybrid file sharing because it makes it easier to hire offshore experts in addition to all the other benefits it provides. However, the cost involved makes this unsuitable for small startups.

Whether you choose on-premise, hybrid or online file sharing, FileCloud is the best partner to help you make the most of your data management system. We provide support all the way – from implementation to usage. This includes encryption, two-factor authentication, data loss prevention, and much more.

Author : Rahul Sharma

5 Ways VDI Can Help Your Company to Cut Costs

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been around for many years but has become increasingly popular in recent times. One of the main drawbacks that kept organizations from adopting VDI in the past has been costly. However, today it is much more affordable to adopt VDI. What’s more desktop virtualization can help organizations to cut operational costs. In this article, we’ll be looking at ways that VDI can help your organization reduce expenditure.

1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The BYOD trend is more popular than ever today. In the traditional office setting, management has to provide devices for everyone in an organization so that they can access the files and apps they need to work via a secure platform. But this meant spending a lot of money – not just to acquire the devices but to maintain and upgrade them when they become obsolete. 

VDI makes all of this redundant. The fact that you can get access to your work desktop from any device without compromising on security is revolutionary. After all, everyone has a device today. By allowing workers to bring their devices to work, organizations do not only get to save money, but also workers can be more productive since they do not have to spend time getting used to their new work computer. There is also the added advantage that workers can pick up and do their job at any time and any place.

2. Easier Outsourcing

Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever to outsource work to remote workers. If you are considering hiring remote workers, security is one of the things that may cross your mind. In the past, some organizations solved these issues by purchasing devices, setting them up, and mailing them to their remote employees. Imagine you hire a person on another continent. Not only would you have to pay a steep mailing fee, but a lot of time would be wasted in the whole process.

With VDI, outsourcing is a straightforward process. You can have your remote workers access your company’s virtual desktop with any device. The best part is that this wouldn’t create any security loopholes and you can determine the level of access that each person has on your VDI platform. With easier outsourcing, your organization can be more efficient and therefore more productive.

3. IT Staff Working Hours

Another way that VDI can help organizations cut costs is by reducing your IT staff working hours. Usually, IT workers do not have to only maintain your server but also every device in your workplace. This involves setting them up, keeping them updated, dealing with hardware issues, and much more. This may mean you need a large IT department (depending on the size of your organization), and keep them well paid.

VDI eliminates the need for all of this. No doubt you’d still need a good IT team. However, the team can be much smaller, and their job would mainly be to maintain your data center and troubleshoot any potential issues that your workers may encounter while connecting to the virtual desktop. All the necessary updates can be done right from the main computer in the data center, and it will apply to all the virtual desktops on the server.

4. Lower Electricity Bill

You may be surprised to know that opting for VDI can reduce your organization’s power consumption and thereby allow you to save money. This is a hotly debated subject, so it helps if we look at a scenario. If you have an organization with 100 computers that are connected to the internet, each one of them will require electricity to function as well as run your internet infrastructure and even your internal server. However, if you adopt VDI, you do not need physical computers stationed at your office. Hypothetically, if you adopt the BYOD strategy, of course, your workers will still need to connect their computers to a power source while they are at work. Still, there will be several hours daily (maybe even up to 12 hours or more) where your power consumption will be drastically reduced, and this translates to a lower electricity bill.

Now, the main thing that will consume power if you migrate to VDI is your server. This is a necessity. But there are ways to even avoid that. By hosting your virtual desktop on the cloud, you can reduce your company’s power consumption to the lowest level.

5. Spend Less on Data Management and Security

Every year, companies spend thousands of dollars on data management and security. If your organization is looking to cut cost on data management and security, VDI is the way to go. Instead of maintaining a massive data center and a lot of drives and other hardware which do not only take space but consume power, you can move to VDI and host your server in the cloud. A virtual desktop system will not only make your work more flexible but also reduce costs and provide better security for your data. You do not have to deal with lost or corrupted files anymore. What’s more, your workers will have no accessibility issues.

VDI does not only protect your organization from losing data but also prevents unauthorized access. With all your data in one place, it is easier to set up the best security protocols and avoid any hacking. Also, if you choose to host your server on the cloud, hardware damage would have no effect on your data. This is the ultimate security. What’s more, you can even rely on tools like FileCloud to provide an extra layer of security for your files like encryption, ransomware protection, two-factor authentication (2FA), and more.

Conclusion

Every organization wants to cut costs, and as you can see from the points highlighted above, VDI can go a long way to help lower expenditure. There are many other ways that VDI can allow companies to save money.

Just about every organization can benefit from VDI, and if you are thinking of going virtual, FileCloud is a good option. We are the number one file platform for VDI. We provide all the tools that you need to make the most of your virtual desktop.

The Difference and Similarities between VDI and Cloud Storage Platforms

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is undoubtedly part of the next wave in business technology. It has the potential to transform how we work and boost productivity tremendously. While many companies have already adopted VDI, it is still new to some people. If you just started exploring VDI for your business, one question that may come to mind is ‘what is the difference between VDI and cloud storage platforms?’ This is an important question as knowing the similarities and differences between VDI and cloud storage platforms would allow you to appreciate the perks of desktop virtualization.

Before we go any further, it is crucial that we have a working definition of VDI. As you can probably guess from the words “virtual desktop infrastructure,” VDI involves making a desktop (with all the associated computing power) available virtually to a select group of users who can access it from anywhere. On the other hand, cloud storage involves hosting files on a virtual hard drive, which you can also access from anywhere.With this basic understanding of how VDI platforms work, let’s look at some basic differences between a file collaboration platform for VDI like FileCloud and a typical cloud storage platform like Dropbox.

Similarities between VDI and Cloud Storage Platforms

Storage and Synchronization: One fundamental similarity between VDI and cloud storage platforms is that they both allow you to store files virtually. Also, when these files are changed for any reason, the new version is synched to everyone that is connected.

Accessibility: Whether you are using a VDI or a cloud storage platform, you can access your files from anywhere and with just about any device provided you have an internet connection.

These are the most significant similarities between VDI and cloud storage. However, there are some others such as the ability to share files easily, back up your data and even retrieve accidentally deleted files.

Difference between VDI and Cloud Storage Platforms

Availability of Desktop Tools: The main difference between VDI and cloud storage platforms is the availability of your desktop tools. If a cloud storage platform is essentially a virtual hard drive, then VDI can be described as a virtual computer. With VDI, you have access to the same desktop that you have at your work computer – including the apps and processing power. This means you can work anywhere with the same security and access that you get when working at the office. You can run the same apps as well as liaise with your colleagues and clients easily.

Security: VDI is far more secure than cloud storage. While cloud storage platforms have security measures in place, the recent spate of hacking incidents proves that they are not 100 percent secure. However, with file collaboration platforms for VDI like FileCloud, protecting your data is the number one priority. FileCloud encrypts your data while in storage and in-transit. We also have other security measures in place including ransomware protection and two-factor authentication (2FA).

Control: The fact is that with VDI, you have considerably more control over your data than with cloud storage – especially if you choose to self-host. With self-hosting, your data never leaves your premises. Also, your staff would control the operation of your data center, and everything associated with it – the VDI software creates a virtual desktop that your workers can access from anywhere. This should not downplay the advantages of using cloud storage or cloud-hosting. However, the fact is large companies who do not want to cede even the slightest control over their data would feel more comfortable using a self-hosted VDI platform.

The Difference between a Self-Hosted and Cloud-Hosted VDI Platform

While VDI and cloud storage are very much different, they can sometimes overlap – to a certain extent. To understand this, we must differentiate between the two main ways of setting up a VDI platform.

Self-Hosted Server VDI: The first method involves creating a data center with a physical computer (which acts as a server) where you install the VDI software (hypervisor). With this method, your data is hosted on the computer in your data center which all remain on your premises. Self-hosting gives you complete control over your data and infrastructure. However, it may be a bit expensive for some small businesses. With self-hosting, you’ll need to purchase a powerful computer to act as your server. Also, you’ll need a good IT team to maintain the server, and upgrade it whenever it is necessary. While running a data center may seem like an easy task, it can be capital intensive. For example, if there is a power interruption at your data center, your server would go down. This means all your workers won’t be able to access their virtual desktop until power is restored – this is the reason why most servers have backup power systems.

Cloud-Hosted Server VDI: Another way to get your VDI platform up and running is to integrate it with cloud storage and computing infrastructure. This is usually called Desktop as a service (DaaS). The only difference between a self-hosted and cloud-hosted VDI platform is that with the latter, your storage and computing infrastructure are all cloud-based. This is more suited to some companies as it takes away the burden of running your own data center. Cloud-hosted VDI platforms are a blend of cloud computing and VDI.

Now, you know the difference between cloud storage and VDI. You also know what a cloud-hosted VDI platform is. If you want enterprise-level online file storage and sharing, VDI is your best bet. It comes with the added advantage of giving your workers a complete desktop with all the tools they need to do their work. The choice between self-hosting or cloud-hosting for your VDI platform depends on many variables. Generally, small companies may want to go for a cloud-hosted file sharing VDI platform as it takes away the cost of having an in-house data center and an IT team. On the other hand, some medium and large companies may want to go for a self-hosted VDI platform as it keeps everything in-house. FileCloud allows you to either self-host or run your VDI on our server. We also give you the option of running our VDI software on a third-party cloud infrastructure.

Key Factors for Making Your VDI Project a Success in 2019

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is critical to making the working environment digital. By now, everyone knows the benefits of adopting VDI. Allied Market Research has predicted that the VDI market would grow by about 18 percent annually from 2017 to 2023. More and more companies – including small and medium-sized ones – are opting for VDI to cut cost and boost efficiency.

Thanks to advancements in technology, the transition to VDI is easier than ever, and not as expensive as it was a couple of years ago. Nonetheless, there are some key factors to consider making the process as smooth as possible.

5 Factors to Consider Ensuring Success of VDI Project

1. Have a Clearly Defined Goal: When companies look to adopt VDI, one of the first and most important things to do is define the goal of the project. This means setting a target in terms of how many users would have access to the platform as well as what these people would be using the network for. Defining your VDI goal is essential to scale your hardware and network requirements. This is where most companies fail. If you hear that a company’s transition to VDI was unable to live up to expectations, there is a pretty good chance that they underestimated their hardware and network requirements during the testing phase.

As far as VDI is concerned, it is best to overstretch rather than underestimate. So, if your IT team predicts how much bandwidth is needed to support the number of staff in your organization, use that as a yardstick, not a limit. You must ensure that your network can support higher bandwidth. Often, IT staff fail to consider everything that workers may do on a network. This can result in a slow network and ultimately affect your adoption of VDI. If you will be using a self-hosted network, this also applies to storage. Planning will help to prevent a lot of unwanted surprises and hidden operational costs coming to haunt you down the road.

2. Don’t Underestimate the Testing Phase: The journey to adopting VDI usually involves a testing phase. For most companies, only those at the top of the echelon partake in the test. I mean, it makes sense because these are the people who will ultimately decide whether the VDI transition is worth it. However, it is a big mistake which could later result in network and user experience issues. The fact is that not everyone in a company can participate in the testing phase – unless it is a very small company. At the same time, allowing only a few members of the organization partake in the testing can be dangerous. The key is to find the middle ground. Most experts suggest that a representative from each department in a company takes part in the VDI testing phase. This way, there is an understanding of how the transition would affect each department. Also, these representatives would be able to guide their colleagues through the onboarding process.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to rush the migration to VDI. Mass migration is always a bad idea. Instead, it should be done systematically. This could involve moving small batches of users to the platform and analyzing its performance before migrating more users.

3. Always Prioritize User Experience: The primary goal of adopting VDI is to enhance user experience and in the process boosting workplace productivity. Therefore, it is counterproductive if users are faced with a lot of problems while migrating to VDI. Users would naturally have high expectations for VDI, and you must work to meet these expectations. This means preventing lags on the network, ensuring a seamless transition from device-to-device and more.

For the most part, user experience doesn’t only involve your network capacity, but also how users are trained and educated about the VDI platform. For most people who aren’t tech savvy, VDI may seem like a complex, new idea. However, they must be educated that it is not very different from most client-server platforms – only much better.

One way to provide excellent user experience is to ensure the VDI platform can support the same applications that your users employ for their work. Also, they must be able to access the network with their devices. File collaboration platforms for VDI like FileCloud support most end-point devices. FileCloud also provides a range of tools to promote collaboration over its network. This goes a long way to improve user experience.

4. Don’t Hesitate to Get Help From VDI Experts: While most companies would love their in-house IT team to handle everything technology-related, this is not always the case. It pays to open the door for VDI experts to assist your in-house team through the process. This does not only limit the possibilities of errors during the deployment and transition to VDI, but it also eliminates the possibility of unnecessary delays. You cannot go wrong with consulting a VDI expert. Apart from helping with the technical aspects of VDI technology, the VDI expert could also help educate your users about the new network and also highlight potential issues that you may have to deal with down the road. FileCloud provides full support to clients during the VDI and file collaboration solution implementation phase. It is also a good idea to have members of your IT team undertake a training course in VDI. That way, they’d be in a better position to guide your company through the entire process of adopting VDI with or without the assistance of external VDI experts.

Conclusion

These are some of the main considerations to guarantee success when implementing VDI, but there are many other things to keep in mind including:

• Assessing the possible security implications of opting for VDI.

• Taking the time to test the network before migrating your users.

• Choosing the right tools to troubleshoot and maintain your VDI network.

• Evaluating how the transition to VDI will affect the process of managing employees in your workplace.

There is no question that VDI has the potential to redefine the working environment completely. However, taking the time to look into all the factors listed above can go a long way to guarantee a successful transition, cut out unforeseen costs, reduce the complexity of the process and prevent a lot of issues that may spring up.

It is 2019, and this is the best time to migrate to VDI if you haven’t done so already.

Author : Rahul Sharma

Choosing The Right Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Vendor

Enterprises are moving their data and applications to the cloud with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) usage rising steadily over the past couple of years. According to research firm IDC, more than half of organizations currently utilize some form of hybrid cloud configuration. IDC predicts that the cloud software market will grow to $151.6 billion by 2020 with five year CAGR of 18.6 percent – surpassing the growth of conventional software. This trend is largely being driven by the rising number of services and applications being delivered from the cloud. Cloud solutions are sometimes so fluid that end-users and IT teams assume it ‘simply works’, leaving crucial issues like data security entirely up to the provider.

Though cloud-based applications may be ‘safer’, they are not unassailable. You should be completely responsible for your SaaS-based data, including every aspect of its security. Backing up your SaaS data provides the continued benefits of the cloud while retaining a secure copy that is shut off from the SaaS environment. Regrettably, for IT decision-makers, the cloud-to-cloud market is somewhat immature and fragmented. Given the stark contrast between cloud computing environments, backup solutions similarly vary quite widely in capabilities. However, there are a couple of available options in the market and choosing the right one is an uphill task. Here are a couple of things to consider.

Backup and Restore Capabilities

Not all backup solutions are created equal. Since SaaS applications are offered via API or a website, the available backup procedures tend to vary, this creates a significant challenge for Backup as a Service (BaaS) providers. The ideal cloud-to-cloud backup solution should include a simplified and automated way to securely back-up your system data (including audit logs and metadata) from one cloud to another. It is also important to review the vendor’s disaster recovery capabilities before-hand. Ensure the solution offers granular recovery capabilities and robust search and browse features that can facilitate faster, self-service recovery/restore – as opposed to waiting for IT to respond, end-users can efficiently perform the recovery on their own.

Backup Frequency

While most SaaS backup solutions allow you to back-up your data at the click, not all of the offer it as an automated service. Ensure this option is available for your data security and ease so that your business operations and pace of growth remain unaffected. Some services will only offer preset options such as weekly, monthly or daily, others may enable you to custom set the intervals. Your business requirements should match the vendor’s available options. The cloud-to-cloud backup solution should also be capable of sending out notifications or alerts for failed backups. Though automation frees up your time and guarantees round the clock protection, the ability to force a manual backup will prove to be convenient when making extensive changes.

Security and Compliance

Data security remains one of the most critical aspects of a modern enterprise. So understanding the safeguards built into storing your backups is crucial. Go for a SaaS backup provider that provides robust encryption coupled with strict privacy policies to protect your sensitive data. The cloud-to-cloud backup solution should also be fully compliant with any regulations that may require you to meet specific standards in securing your data. Regulatory requirements can become an issue when cross-border data flows are involved. An organization can be held responsible for a data breach even if they aren’t aware wherein, the cloud their data is stored. Regulatory requirement that governs the timing of a permanent deletion of backed up data should also be put into consideration. Ensure the vendor can support your organization’s specific data-retention requirements.

Application Subscription Autonomy

A cloud-to-cloud backup vendor should have tools in place to handle the potential unavailability of the source SaaS application itself. For example, if an organization opted to cancel its G Suite subscription after using it for several years. Retaining that invaluable G Suite data will be a prime concern, so a good BaaS vendor should offer a path to data recovery, even if the source cloud subscription has been cancelled. Be sure to inquire about independent access when accessing vendors.

Cost Benefits

Regardless of the features or services, the cost will always be a constraining factor when selecting a BaaS provider. Remember the best solution for you is the one that fits your budget. On the other hand, expensive doesn’t always translate to quality, especially if you are paying for services that you aren’t fully utilizing. Analyze your data storage requirements for both now and in the future so that you can select a cost-effective backup solution. Each cloud-to-cloud backup provider has their own pricing model that is typically based on a per-user, per month/year, per-application basis. Don’t forget to make inquiries regarding hidden charges tied to things like software updates, customer support, or bandwidth, if any.

Having a backup of your SaaS data provides peace of mind and guarantees business continuity in the event of data loss. There are multiple cloud-to-cloud backup providers out there, it is therefore important spend time analyzing each of their pricing models and feature sets, to ensure they are capable of meeting all your backup needs.

Author: Gabriel Lando