There’s a scene in the 1978 movie Superman where the hero catches Lois Lane as she’s falling from a tall building. He says, “Don’t worry. I’ve got you.” Her reply? “Yeah, but who’s got you?”
Who is protecting the protectors?
This is an issue with cloud backup, too. The idea of backup to cloud is simple enough: You duplicate your data to a cloud instance and (you think) you’re done. It’s safe, right? It’s there if you need it, right? Maybe not so much.
This article explains how to get comprehensive data protection with cloud backup. Cloud backup is more than just a task for your IT department. It’s a critical element of business continuity and disaster recovery. It’s essential to the resiliency of business operations.
But it requires an understanding of virtual machines, databases, unstructured data, and cloud-native environments. In this article we’ll look at cloud integration and mobility, seamless integration with the major public cloud platforms, the mobility of data between on-premises and public cloud environments, and more.
Enterprise class cloud backup solutions should be based on a unified software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that offers complete enterprise data management from on-premises data centers to the cloud. This translates into multi-cloud and hybrid cloud data protection. The solution should automate and simplify core backup and recovery capabilities while enabling API-first automation, cyber defenses, and mobility between cloud providers. Users should be able to protect enterprise applications through a single pane, consolidating management and simplifying operations.
This unified approach, spanning multiple public cloud platforms, eliminates data silos. Backup managers can standardize management while increasing visibility across multiple backup environments. By backing up your data on a public cloud provider’s object storage service, you are ensured instant accessibility, coupled with real-time search when you need to restore.
Such a solution should also enable cost-optimized archiving, allowing you to transition backup data to cost-optimized storage where it makes sense—without having to maintain costly snapshots. Additionally, you can cut costs and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) by taking advantage of OpEx cloud economics and by tiering compressed, deduplicated data in low-cost, long-term storage environments such as Amazon S3 or Azure Blob. With the ability to move data between different cloud platforms, you can back up your files where it makes the most financial sense based on their criticality and accessibility requirements.
Here are four additional key features you’ll want to consider as part of your Cloud backup architecture:
Data recovery speeds matter a great deal. This is as much a business issue as it is about technology. When data is unavailable, operations may come to a stop. If you’ve ever been stuck in a line at the airport when their reservation system is down, you’ll understand the problem. For this reason, a backup solution must deliver fast recovery of data.
So you need access to near-instant data recovery that can support your architecture down to the level of the individual file. Having this granular visibility into your data enables a near-zero recovery time objective (RTO) by surgically recovering apps, files, or objects at scale.
This stands in contrast with the typically sluggish data recovery from legacy systems. Some systems can take hours to find the files you need to recover. Then, you would spend more time recovering and reassembling a useful copy. But if you have the ability to search for a backup and select the right recovery point (RPO), you can execute a rapid recovery.
Modern backup environments are complex and dynamic. Data is constantly being added or moved around. As a result, it is not practical to rely on manual processes to manage backup settings and security policies. Automation is the solution. However, automation presents its own challenges. The ever-changing nature of backup data can make automation difficult to execute.
The best answer to this problem is policy-driven automation for backup and recovery. Cloud backup solutions should be able to automatically detect new data that requires protection and automatically apply and enforce relevant global data protection policies. Automation applies these policies across all data to ensure consistent protection and compliance. Working this way, policy-driven automation simplifies backup management tasks.
Backup and restore have a great deal to do with data security. Seen from the perspective of the confidentiality-integrity-availability model (The “CIA Triad”) of cybersecurity, backup and restore align with availability. Data must be available, and that availability can be threatened by malicious actors.
There’s more to it, though. Backup and restore also support the confidentiality and integrity elements of the CIA Triad. Having a reliable backup mitigates the risk of data becoming corrupted in a cyberattack. In terms of confidentiality, we’re back to Superman. Who’s protecting the data that’s backed up to the cloud?
This is a serious security concern. Storing data on a cloud backup solution is great for resiliency and data availability, but the process also creates a new attack surface. Hackers can target the backup instances in the cloud and breach your data. They no longer break in, but just log in with compromised credentials. It is essential, therefore, to implement robust defenses and controls to protect data backup up to the cloud.
But there are several countermeasures that can address these concerns. For example, immutable snapshots, which cannot be modified, offer exceptional protection against ransomware. A ransomware attacker will not be able to encrypt an immutable snapshot, so the attack will fail. It is also essential to encrypt data at rest and in transit.
A quality cloud backup solution will also employ functions that serve to detect, prevent, and mitigate attacks targeting the data they store. For example:
Zero Trust by design—A Zero Trust security model uses an architecture with “logical air gaps,” secure protocols, native immutability, encryption, and role based access controls.
Anomaly Detection—IT leaders must be aware of anomalous activity in the backup environment that can signal the presence of a threat or the start of an attack. Anomaly detection enables you to investigate threats rapidly and avoid reinfection by malware—a common problem that arises when backed up data contains an un-remediated threat vector. Machine learning can help establish baseline normal behavior–a system that compares activity to this baseline can detect potential threats, identifying the initial point, scope, and time of an attack.
Data Risk Assessment —A data risk assessment engine allows you to identify your exposure by scanning your data to discover data attributes, where the data resides, and how the data has changed.
If you are responsible for backing up data in the cloud, you need to know what you have and where it is. This is not always so simple, especially if you lack the right tools. And penalties may apply if you get this wrong. For example, if you move personally identifiable information (PII) across national boundaries, from a cloud platform in a country with strict data sovereignty regulations such as the GDPR, you will have a compliance problem.
A quality cloud backup system can help you avoid these difficulties with analytics tools for data insights. With the power to monitor the full cloud data backup landscape, you can get a complete assessment of the data you’re storing in the cloud. As things change in the cloud backup, you can enable alerts and create reports to help you keep track–tools that you can use to support your compliance efforts.
By properly deploying cloud backup into your IT environment, you can realize a range of benefits.
A quality cloud backup solution delivers enhanced data security through encryption and ransomware-proof immutable backups, built on a Zero Trust security model. It should also secure data in third-party SaaS applications like Microsoft 365. Given the large number of SaaS apps in use at most organizations, this capability is a major win for IT managers.
A backup and restore solution, for better or worse, also has a role to play in data governance. For example, data governance policies may dictate limits on data access, parameters for encryption, data retention processes, and so forth. Backup cloud storage must support such data governance policies, though this is not always easy, especially in a hybrid or multi-cloud environment. A quality cloud backup solution eases the pain with automated data governance policy enforcement across multiple cloud platforms.
Data governance policies may also specify compliance with certain frameworks or standards. For instance, organizations that work with US government data may be obligated to comply with The Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). A quality cloud backup solution must be FIPS certified, but also certified for other key global compliance standards and frameworks such as GDPR, ISO 27001, AICPA SOC, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and others.
Your data never sits still. You’re likely moving it between on-premises infrastructure and more than one cloud platform. Nor do your data volumes remain the same size. They tend to grow, sometimes dramatically, as time goes on. A quality cloud back solution enhances your ability to handle potentially chaotic data movement and growth and scales easily with your evolving needs, giving you the flexibility to adapt to changing data volumes.
A quality cloud backup solution simplifies backup and recovery management. This benefit comes from a combination of a user-friendly interface and centralized control over backups across on-premises data centers, hybrid- and multi-cloud architectures. Further simplification of management can come from support for all major applications, including SaaS, operating systems (OS’s), databases, hypervisors (for virtual machines) and clouds.
With simplified management comes cost efficiency. Backup and restore, like other areas of IT operations, are about people performing tasks. The more tasks people can perform in an allotted period of time, the more efficient they are—with commensurate positive impacts on cost. A quality cloud backup solution simplifies cloud backup management, which translates into potential cost savings.
Data security is a critical element of a cybersecurity program. It’s also fundamental to business resiliency. But, important as it is, data security is not static. Requirements and standards—along with deployment models—continue to evolve. Rubrik is ready for the future. Key features of the cloud backup storage solution run the gamut from instant data recovery to policy-driven automation and ransomware protection. Rubrik keeps you on top of the state of your backup environment with constant monitoring, analytics, and reporting.
Using Rubrik gives you enhanced data security along with the ability to meet changing compliance requirements. You can flexibly scale your backup across multiple public cloud platforms—supporting common applications and databases. Backup management becomes simpler with Rubrik’s centralized control and friendly interface. Cost efficiency follows from there.
Learn more about Rubrik cloud backup solutions.