Category Archives: cloud

Cloud based solutions bring disaster recovery within reach of small business

Backup and Data Recovery (BDR) solutions traditionally have been high priced luxuries out of the reach of many small to medium business owners. Tape drives remain very expensive hardware components, and offsite storage services are simply too expensive for many companies to use. But now, cloud based solutions are poised to bring BDR solutions within reach of every business from the sole proprietorship to the multisite enterprise.

Let’s look at what a company needs for BDR. Data must be securely backed up, available in case of need, but safe from any disaster that might strike the company. When all of your data resides only on your fileserver, it is at risk from hardware failures, theft, human error, fire or other catastrophe. Many companies use tapes to back up their systems, but do not use a reliable way to move those tapes off site to a secure storage location. The same fire that cooks your server will melt the tapes in the file cabinet, and so will the summer sun beating down on the car’s boot.

Even the least expensive courier services can cost hundreds of dollars a month, and relying on tapes to store your data means needing redundant hardware to recover your data in an emergency. Tape based solutions are simply out of reach for most SMBs, who choose instead to accept the risk of loss because they don’t have a viable solution. Or rather, they didn’t until BDR met the cloud.

Cloud based BDR solutions use your company’s Internet circuit to make a secure connection to your service provider’s network, and performs data back ups continuously. Typically an agent is installed on each server and workstation you wish to backup, and examines data changes at the block level, replicating data either directly to the cloud service provider, or to a staging appliance in your datacenter that can further compress the data, and stage most recently changed data for rapid restores if necessary.

Rather than investing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on hardware and software, cloud based BDR solutions typically operate on a monthly subscription basis, with graduated pricing based on total data stored. This means that SMBs can start using the services immediately, and keep their costs manageable. They can select a smaller total data level to start, and raise the level as their needs grow. Because costs are monthly and subscription based, the financial treatment of these costs is frequently very attractive as well, going to operations rather than assets.

Many of the cloud based providers of BDR services offer free trials, which enables the business owner or IT admin to take the service for a test ride, ensuring that they are comfortable with the requirements, performance, and availability of the service. Some services can offer individual users with backup capabilities for their workstations that go hand in hand with server based backups, while others pool team based storage to further enhance the services available.

With your data securely backed up to a cloud provider’s network, you can rest easy knowing that if disaster strikes, your data is not lost. It is safe and secure in the cloud ready for you to pull down at need.

This guest post was written by Casper Manes on behalf of IT Channel Insight, a site for MSPs and Channel partners where you can find other related articles to disaster recovery.

Healthy Skepticism Required When Using Online Storage

When online backup solutions such as box.net, idrive, and dropbox came on the scene, I was skeptical. Store my data on some service provider’s system? Only with caution.

When news of the dropbox scandal was made public, I was not surprised. The promise, “only a customer has access to their own data”, evaporated. Not that it was ever a promise that could ever be kept.

Recommendation: if you insist on storing your data on someone else’s system, encrypt it locally and store the encrypted data on the other system. That is the only way to truly guarantee that no one else can see your data.

Reference:

http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/20/dropbox-security-bug-made-passwords-optional-for-four-hours/

Showcase your cloud security knowledge with a CCSK cert

There are risks associated with the use of any new technology. Moving applications and data to the cloud has its economic benefits, but there are potential risks that organizations need to be aware of. Security professionals need to do their part and identify any risks associated with an organization’s desired move to the cloud, and manage those risks through the usual risk treatment.

To be effective, security professionals need to be acutely aware of the technologies involved, so that they may effectively identify and manage risk. Like so many specialties, there is now a certification available, Certified in Cloud Security Knowledge, or CCSK.  This certification is offered by the Cloud Security Alliance, the same organization that published its seminal Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing V2.1 (PDF download).

Candidates who wish to earn the CCSK must take a 50 question, one hour exam as a test of their knowledge about cloud security. More information on earning the certificate is available here.