Data Protection and the Cloud in the New ‘Hybrid’ World

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As data continues to grow in volume and strategic value, businesses increasingly turn to the cloud to meet data storage and management needs. The reasons by now are well-known: Cloud services can provide unprecedented levels of flexibility and scalability while also saving on hardware and other costs related to on-premises solutions.

But backing up and storing data in the cloud presents its own challenges, particularly to companies lacking large IT staffs. Data is typically a company’s greatest asset, and thus requires protection from disasters, loss, or theft. In the digital, real-time economy, data also must be easily accessible – to approved personnel – for employees to be productive and better serve customers as part of today’s highly digital businesses.

Providing adequate backup and data protection while also enabling easy and fast access to that data in a controlled way can be difficult, even if a company’s data is in one location. These days, however, such simple IT environments are vanishing. Businesses of all sizes invariably store data in multiple locations – the internal data center, physical and virtual servers, off-site storage, cloud storage (often with multiple vendors), networked computers, mobile devices, mobile applications, and employee cloud accounts such as Dropbox. Business are also increasingly processing a wide range of workloads across mixed environments, including physical and virtual, applications, and mobile devices.

“As an IT person, your job is more challenging now with more data in more locations and you need to keep track of where all your data is and make sure that data is protected at all times,” says Frank Jablonski, vice president of product marketing for Acronis, a provider of hybrid cloud data protection solutions for businesses.

Complications in the cloud

For IT professionals running networks for small businesses and mid-sized companies, trying to manage and secure data in multiple locations using multiple point solutions can quickly become a frustrating and time-consuming nightmare.

“Point solutions tend to work on a particular workload or type of workload,” Jablonski says. “They may back up just physical servers or just virtual servers. But most companies have a mix in their environment. They have physical servers, they have virtual servers, they may have several different types of virtual servers – one cloud service provider might be using Microsoft Hyper-V, another service provider might be using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization or Citrix XenServer.”

Without a single, easy-to-use platform offering greater control and unified management, IT will struggle to meet business requirements for basic data protection. In the event of a fire, flood, prolonged network outage, or major security breach, inadequate data backup and protection can doom a business with no ability to recover or to quickly get IT systems back up and running.

Using only cloud storage can complicate data access, protection, and backup because data is being stored in a remote location managed by a third party and connected by a network. Should the network be disrupted, data will be inaccessible unless it has been backed up on-premises, either in a data center or some other local storage such as an appliance or employee workstation. Further, a company using only cloud storage relies to a large extent on a third party to physically protect its data. Service-level agreements may specify promised levels of data protection and cloud uptime, but these are hardly guarantees.

Protecting data in a hybrid cloud environment

To ensure complete data protection for data stored in multiple places locally and remotely, companies need a hybrid cloud data solution that can copy data to and from various cloud deployments, as well as in local and remote locations, PCs, and virtual servers. By backing up data automatically in multiple locations, companies can safeguard their valuable business data while providing secure access to employees, partners, customers, and applications.

A complete data protection platform should provide your business with protection against every type of data-loss threat, whether it’s:

  • Local backup for a PDF or spreadsheet accidentally deleted by an employee
  • A lost connection to the Internet services provider hosting or managing your website
  • Cloud recovery of an entire database following a flood at a company’s main offices

Safety, security, and privacy

Backing up data to protect against accidents, user negligence, and natural disasters is essential in today’s highly digital and mobile marketplace. So too is providing data safety, security, and privacy as it travels from a customer’s mobile app to a cloud server to a virtual server in the company’s data center, and all the way back up the chain.

“A highly connected, digital world has many benefits, but it also attracts a lot of bad actors trying to steal information,” says Jablonski. “Data security in a hybrid environment therefore must include encryption technology to keep that data from prying eyes.”

Effective data protection also means protecting the identities of people (such as customers or employees) associated with your company’s data. This can be done by storing ownership information separately from the relevant data, preventing a hacker from linking banking or financial data to a name. In many cases data protection also involves ensuring the company is meeting data privacy and compliance standards. (This is a major issue for healthcare companies required to meet federal patient data privacy requirements.)

The Acronis edge

Recognizing the need for a single, easy-to-use management platform for data protection in a hybrid cloud environment, Acronis has developed a unified hybrid cloud data protection platform that delivers an easy, complete, and affordable solution for protecting digital, informational, and intellectual assets.

The Acronis hybrid cloud data protection platform utilizes a single, unified dashboard that lets IT manage backup and restore operations for physical and virtual machines on-premises, in a remote location, or in the cloud. Among the Acronis unified platform’s features are:

  • Complete protection provided by backup, cloud storage, disaster recovery, and file synch & share
  • Support for any workload across virtual, physical, application, and mobile environments – including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Exchange
  • Support for any storage in cloud, disk, tape, network attached storage (NAS), and storage area networks (SAN) – including Acronis, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and more

Read more about Acronis data protection solutions here, or for an overview of how Acronis protects your business across cloud, on-premises, physical, and virtual environments, watch the Acronis video here.