The cloud has become indispensable for many companies, so companies have to look very carefully when choosing a provider. Four criteria can help with the selection: supported workloads, reliable recovery, optimized storage space, and a simple overview.
The cloud is now an integral part of the IT infrastructure and handles essential processes in many companies. To avoid disruptions or failures of cloud services, it is necessary to select the appropriate cloud provider in advance. Data security and security against ransomware should be prioritized. But employee errors also have an impact on cloud security. A recent study by Veritas Technologies shows that employees are often too afraid or embarrassed to report data loss or misuse of cloud applications. Data can be lost forever, or malicious code can penetrate the IT structure. In the worst case, this leads to a total failure of the cloud applications. The environments are most susceptible to IT vulnerabilities.
When choosing a cloud provider, there are a few points to consider so that the data is fully protected. Companies can consider four aspects to select a suitable cloud offer.
Are All Significant Workloads Supported?
The cloud provider should support the user’s management tools and be able to integrate the cloud elements into a hybrid concept. This allows the infrastructure to work with the services of the cloud providers. The supported workloads reflect the service performance of the respective provider. In the case of digitization projects, in particular, it is crucial that the cloud provider delivers critical services and announces modern modules in its roadmaps – such as big data or the Internet of Things (IoT).
The following workloads should be supported:
- Big Data: These service modules can help quickly evaluate large amounts of data and gain new insights with the help of forecast models.
- Open source: Ideally, the provider also integrates open-source platforms in addition to the commercial alternatives. This way, users have a choice. The IT infrastructure remains future-proof, especially with platforms such as MongoDB, OpenStack, and container-based environments such as Docker or Kubernetes.
- Hyper-Converged infrastructures: This allows critical data and applications to be linked in a highly available and fail-safe manner.
Hybrid traditional applications: Companies need a provider that enables hybrid cloud constellations to operate legacy applications.
How Reliably Can Data Be Recovered?
The fire in the OVHCloud data center in early 2021 showed that companies are ultimately responsible for their data and security. Because if data is not backed up, the provider does not guarantee that it can be completely restored after a failure. Therefore, in principle, companies should back up their data in the cloud themselves – “shared responsibility.” But how can entire databases or important parts be restored in an emergency?
The provider should support granular recovery processes for this so that the user can, for example, retrieve a virtual machine or individual files of a virtual application without downloading the entire database and setting it up again. This can reduce the effort. In addition, it must be ensured that the critical applications and data can be reconstructed with priority so that essential services are available again quickly after a total failure.
To ensure that this runs as smoothly as possible, the provider should support the following functions in business continuity or the recovery plans:
- Automated and orchestrated recovery: Complex multi-tier applications can be restored holistically at the click of a button.
- One-for-one orchestrations: Here, an IT manager must confirm the steps with minimal commands, so he still retains complete control over the process.
- Testing the recovery plan: It is essential to safely test disaster recovery processes and migration scenarios without impacting production operations.
- Manufacturer-independent concept: The recovery mechanisms may have to restore applications of all kinds on different platforms. Manufacturer-independent or independent disaster recovery mechanisms that protect the data end-to-end are therefore essential.
Appropriate tools can support data recovery. Consolidated platforms enable companies to migrate data flexibly and without risk of failure. The structures of complex, multi-level application architectures and the dependencies of the assets must be recognized. In addition, all workloads should be portable to a hybrid and multi-cloud environment, so disaster recovery as a service is possible.
How Do You Optimize Disk Space And Running Costs?
Many companies are already using deduplication in their backup environments to minimize backup size and save storage space. Ideally, the cloud provider also supports this deduplication. This way, memory, and bandwidth can be saved since the total amount of data to be stored is reduced. One option is for a backup and recovery solution to bring in that intelligence independent of the cloud provider, enabling a multi-cloud strategy.
A central overview can also help with optimal memory utilization. It shows where the memory is located, and IT managers can quickly see which storage media the archive data was stored. You get a good overview and can optimize the structures because the entire storage tiering can be set up more efficiently than is the status quo in many companies.
For efficient storage use, a cloud provider should also offer several performance levels: High-performance storage is recommended for high-performance and critical applications, while cheaper and slower storage services are sufficient for less critical data. This enables the data to be stored according to importance and relevance. This way, storage utilization can be better controlled according to costs, which can help reduce operating costs. Every terabyte dispensed saves an average of between 600 and 700 euros in costs.
How Can You Keep Track of The IT Infrastructure?
Those who migrate their data to the cloud will probably maintain a hybrid infrastructure architecture for longer. In everyday life, the data is distributed across different platforms with interdependencies that need to be understood. Because if a component fails, it may be necessary to initiate appropriate countermeasures immediately. It is therefore essential to continuously monitor the entire infrastructure and the database.
First, companies should get an overview of all services and the data exchanged. With the help of the right tools, the file system’s metadata can be collected and managed. This happens regardless of whether the data is local or in cloud storage. With this information, the IT teams can find out how old the files are and which user or department they belong to. It is also possible to determine what type of application is involved or when a file was last opened. This allows obsolete data, valuable information, and risks to be identified. Companies can use it to decide which data they want to migrate and which they wish to delete or archive.
Suppose you want to analyze the data even more precisely. In that case, the tools can be coupled with archive solutions: The data is classified according to freely definable guidelines and compared with predefined patterns and filters – for example, personal information. Each file that is archived is automatically examined and tagged as needed. In this way, critical situations can be easily bridged. The data and applications are secured, and ideally, all vital services can be transferred to another provider’s cloud via an automated disaster recovery process.