A critical issue for organisations and Cloud service providers operating as a Multi-Cloud Enterprise is that of data protection and security. An enterprise needs to be sure that it’s data is secure and available to be restored in an environment with differing requirements across different clouds. In this context, data includes the applications and systems needed to host the data, not just the data itself. In short, the entire virtual machine environment.
Service providers need to be able to demonstrate to current and potential clients that their most valuable asset, their data, is safe in their hands. Usually these requirements are set out in a contractual service level agreement with the client.
Hosted service providers and individual enterprises expect reassurance on many levels, particularly those of 24/7/365 availability and absolute security of their data in an industry standard Data Protection environment. Not only do they require data protection from internal and external threats, but also the reassurance that in a Multi-Cloud Enterprise environment, their data is being regularly and completely secured according to an agreed schedule.
If the applications environment is that of a structured Virtual Machine environment, that can be a complex and difficult task.
Simply put, the issue is that of protecting their data environment and using the new technologies to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace in a cost-effective way.
That is where proprietary application packages, such as Veeam, can provide an industrial strength solution.
How complex can the multi-cloud enterprise environment become, and how many players need to be considered in a potential solution?
A recent study by ESG found that around sixty percent of organisations use two or three service providers in its cloud environment, with over fifty percent using three or more. The differing environments and requirements of each public cloud provider complicate the data protection environment.
The study also shows a trend towards insourcing application environments, particularly IaaS and SaaS to try to reduce the complexity. This is obviously not a complete solution for the fully online digital enterprise or a multi-cloud service provider.
To look at data protection in a little more detail, consider the differing needs of securing data as part of a data recovery environment and within the cloud itself. The prudent user must also recognise that ultimate responsibility for business continuity lies with them, not a service provider. To be sure, they will have an SLA with the service provider, but that is of little use if the provider has gone belly up for whatever reason. In turn, the service provider must be able to reassure their client that they have the policies, procedures and tools in place to rapidly recover from a failure. The prudent user will also demand escrow for their data to allow them access if the service provider fails.
Most businesses have a business continuity plan, in which they set out activities, firstly to make sure that complete and up to date data sets are available to be restored if necessary, and the steps needed to restore full operation. This will be particularly complex where the organisation is multi-site, perhaps over a wide geography and multi-provider. A solution like the Veeam Availability Suite provides a range of tools to cater for most environments and data providers. It allows for data replication across sites and the migration of data sets to hot-standby facilities in a variety of different technical environments. It caters for virtual machine environments and provides tools for rapid restoration when required.
Data security in the cloud is similar but has a slightly different focus.
The issue here is to ensure that data is secured at a sufficient level of detail and granularlty to provide rapid and easy restoration. This will be different for different application areas, and may require specific techniques to ensure that secured data is usable. For example, the backup requirements for Exchange mailboxes are different from those of Office 365 user file stores. Again, this is where proprietary solutions like the Veeam Availability Suite can provide user tools to ease and automate the backup process.
However, not all solutions are perfect and provide total coverage. The prudent user has periodic tests to ensure that data is being secured properly , and particularly where an external service provider is involved, that all necessary data is being secured, can be restored and that recovery policies and procedures are in place, up to date and workable.
Business continuity is rapidly transforming to `Data Recovery as a Service`, or DRaaS to meet the increasing complexity of multi-cloud enterprises infrastructures. It`s becoming a market in itself. This is where specialist suppliers, including Veeam, are very well positioned to assist multi-cloud enterprises in ensuring business continuity as they migrate through the cloud environment without needing to commit valuable time and resources to managing data security.