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Cloud Backup & Disaster Recovery Predictions for 2014

Cloud backup adoption made great strides in 2013 but it was also a year of learning lessons

Author: Nick Mueller, Zetta.net

2013 was a banner year for cloud backup adoption. It was also a year of wake-up calls: simple cloud backup doesn't constitute DR, transfer speeds are vital, and beware cloud as a commodity. Let's look to 2014 for more trends in cloud backup and DR in the cloud.

1. Cloud backup vendors with slow performance will fail
This trend showed up in the news as well-known cloud backup vendors ceased production. Symantec Backup Exec Cloud was the biggest casualty of slow performance, and more cloud hosting products struggled or went down because they were not optimized for speed of backup or recovery.

Just offering a backup to cloud option isn't enough anymore. Users appreciate the scalability and cost-effectiveness of the cloud but they also want the same level of performance in backup and restore that they had on-premise. Native cloud optimization for the Internet and high data transfer speeds are the only way to achieve this performance level.

2. MSPs and VARs Will Embrace Cloud Backup as a Profit Center
Many MSPs and VARs want to offer Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) because their customers want it. But profit margins are thin and it's tough to bring in enough revenue to make a profit, let alone invest in higher priced services. MSPs know they need to raise recurring revenue and lower client backup management costs, and they need a cost-effective and high performance service to make that happen. MSPs can build recurring revenue by offering features like these:

  • Optimize cloud backup and recovery so the MSP's service is at least as fast as their customers' on-premise backup.
  • Earn customer trust with verified backup, which takes the burden of continual checking off their customers' backs.
  • Offer a high performance cloud without high cost to the MSP. This means a solution that's natively optimized for the cloud without the costs of a hardware appliance.

Profit margins grow with less cost on the backend and the MSP sees recurring revenue from happy customers. MSPs and VARs can afford to develop premium services and faster go-to-market.

3. Appliance-Based Backup Solutions Show their Age
A lot of traditional backup vendors extended backup to the cloud using on-premise appliances. Early appliances were an innovative way to collect backup data and then transfer it to the cloud; they were also a good way for backup vendors with big installed bases to keep their customers.

The problem is that an on-premise appliance can be an expensive proposition and does little to accelerate cloud performance. This is particularly awkward if you are an MSP: customer site hardware appliances need repair and replacement, and software appliances need troubleshooting and upgrades.

You can replace appliances with a cloud-native cloud backup offering with features like WAN optimization and multi-channel communications like REST. This takes the burden of supporting appliances off the table and speeds up performance.

4. Commodity Cloud Doesn't Work Unless Your Name is Azure, Amazon or Google
Big established cloud hosts make money with their huge economies of scale and the volume of data they have under management. Otherwise commodity cloud is a losing game as Nirvanix can attest. Nirvanix declared Chapter 11 because they decided to build their own cloud infrastructure. In spite of big clients like IBM they could not boost enough revenue to counter their astronomical expenditure.

Moving into 2014, the brightest opportunities in the cloud are specific business solutions focused on businesses that are willing to pay for them. Disaster recovery in the cloud is one of the most attractive offerings moving forward. True cloud DR isn't just backup to the cloud. It's specifically architected and custom built for enterprise-grade backup and recovery performance.

Zetta for example is specifically built for the Internet with WAN optimization and accelerated cloud performance, and achieves speeds that are often faster than local backup.

5. Companies Realize that Cloud Backup Means Cloud Recovery Too
Recovering data over a slow pipe can be even worse than the initial backup: just when companies need to recover their data fast, slow data transfer speeds threaten the whole recovery process.

Commodity cloud storage from legacy backup software won't work for companies with high performance recovery needs. Recovery from the cloud is all about RTO and that's just what legacy backup to the cloud can't do. Some vendors get around the problem by downloading customer recovery files on disk and trucking them to the customer site. Better than an impossibly long recovery time over the WAN but hardly the stuff that dreams are made of.

Companies avoid this problem by only backing up data that they can stand to recover in a longer period of time. They can't apply the economies of the cloud for priority data that is constrained by recovery time, unless they turn to an optimized cloud backup and DR offering. We'll see a lot more of this customer movement to cloud-native services in 2014.

We built these predictions for 2014 on 2013 events and Zetta customer needs and wants.

Nick is Zetta's Chief Content Officer, and has been working with writing and social media teams to create digital content since the days when the BBS reign

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Derek Kol is a technology specialist focused on SMB and enterprise IT innovations.

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