I’ve Got My Head in the Clouds – Is a Storm Coming?

kaboomMany organizations today have considered using a cloud service for storing information. Cloud storage can be convenient, efficient, and cost-effective. However, when it comes to using the cloud for disaster recovery (DR), some storage managers are up all night worrying about an impending data storm. In this BlogBytes post, we will examine some of the most notable concerns with cloud DR and how LTO tape technology is the silent partner that can help provide a peaceful night’s rest.

Are You Asking the Right Questions About Security?

Cloud services are being used by a number of organizations and, according to a Techtarget survey of cloud service users, security was cited as the most frequent concern related to cloud storage than any other factor (50% of survey respondents). The cost of cloud storage was another big concern with capacity fees worrying 32% of survey respondents, followed by transaction costs at 28% of respondents.

securityThe security of the information stored at an organization’s primary site is of the utmost concern. When this information is stored in the cloud it becomes an even greater concern as the data seems to be “out of your hands.” That is, out of your control. It is important to plan for the unexpected data destroyer events that can and most likely will occur. What if the cloud is breached by hackers? What if a virus is injected in to the cloud system? How visible is your confidential information to cloud administrators? Does the cloud provider keep your critical data offline so that it is not accessible to corruption? And the over-riding questions: What if the cloud provider has a site wide disaster? What if the cloud provider goes belly up? Users need to think about methods and cloud alternative solutions to help alleviate these dangers.

Is Your Data At Risk?

Let’s think about the two main types of data security risks – intentional corruption of data by a hacker, virus, or a disgruntled employee and unintentional data loss usually caused by natural disasters. Methods can be put in place to protect intentional intrusions with screening, passwords, masking, and more. However, as we have seen in countless scenarios, these security methods can be overcome by a clever hacker or vicious virus. Perhaps the most outstanding method to help secure data from intentional destruction is to prevent online access. That is, store the data offline, creating an air-gap isolation of the storage content electronically, electromagnetically, and most importantly physically – both from other systems and networks. An air gapped system is physically segregated and incapable of connecting, either wirelessly or physically, with other systems. This means that data is secure from access and corruption. The ultimate offline storage based on cost, convenience, and reliability, is tape. A tape cartridge in a secure location is no longer attached to the system and is therefore virtually inaccessible to online attacks.

For unintentional data loss, storing a tape copy at an offsite facility separate from a primary site can protect against natural disasters.

What Should You Do?

umbrellaWhat should you do when considering a cloud service provider for data disaster recovery? Ask the provider if they are using LTO tape technology as a secure, offline backup storage solution. In addition, you can invest in a local LTO tape system as a safe-guard solution that can allow you easy access to restore critical data sets…at your convenience. Tape also provides an essential ‘exit strategy’ for cloud storage: what if you want to shift to another cloud storage provider? How would you get your data to another cloud provider?  Your cloud data could be a sizeable amount beyond the capabilities of the available bandwidth or at an unaffordable data transfer cost.  A best practice method is for your current cloud provider to make available an LTO tape backup of your files to be delivered to your new provider.  And if the tape data was formatted using the Linear Tape File System, the data transfer at the new location can be done quickly. Only the index of each LTFS formatted tape would typically need to be read, not the whole cartridge, to create a database of tape content.

When storing your data in the sky, a combination of cloud services and LTO-7 tape technology just might be the go to disaster recovery strategy to help weather the storms!