In most cases nowadays, it's simply impractical to store your business backups locally. Moreover, cloud storage solutions have become so cheap, reliable and feature-rich, that they easily outperform any small local storage solution. However, ”the cloud” is just a term that covers hundreds of different possibilities. So, how do you pick one of those hundreds?This guide will help you to define a cloud backup strategy for your small business. We will guide you through the very first stages of creating your strategy, and on to picking a cloud backup provider that fits your needs.
Step 1. Create an Inventory of Your Business Assets
When defining your cloud backup strategy, you don't immediately go shopping for exact solutions. There are plenty of options and the exact choice should be defined by the requirements of your environment. First and foremost, you should create a list of everything you need to back up in your company, including:
- Computers. Do you have any office desktops or is most of your workforce using laptops, either from home or from the office? If they are working at home, can they provide a stable connection to the Internet to perform regular cloud backups? Also, what types of data are stored on those computers? Does your team work with locally stored data or mostly with shared files via local or cloud solutions?
- Servers and virtual machines. Write down any applications, files, and web servers you are using. If you are using virtual machines or clustered servers, you should add that to the requirements for your future cloud backup solution.
- Operating systems. Your team might be using a mix of macOS, Windows and Linux operating systems. Ideally, all those systems should be backed up via the same backup solution to avoid complexity.
- Applications. A modern-day business uses at least a couple of cloud or locally based applications, including CRM, collaboration apps, and solutions for meetings. Some solutions require you to keep databases on your local or cloud servers. Not only should you back up those databases, but you should also define whether or not the solution provider has a way to back up your data inside the applications you use.
- Email and file-sharing services. Both local and cloud-based emailing and file-sharing solutions should be backed up. But the way you back them up is totally different. For local MS Exchange databases, you need to employ a solution that has an Exchange-aware backup. For cloud-based solutions, typically Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite, you need a cloud-native solution, capable of backing up all the types of data supported by those services and used in your company. These typically include emails, files on cloud drives, and calendars.
Step 2. Define the Features
Once you have defined the workloads that your backup solution or solutions should be able to back up, you need to think about the features of an ideal backup provider. Those features can be divided into two general groups.
Nowadays, when employees need to be able to work away from the office, simple and flexible application management is a must. So, manageability is the most important feature you should look for in your future business backup solution. But what exactly makes a solution manageable?
- Single pane of glass. Your cloud backup solution should provide you with all the information you need in order to check the health of your existing backups and your used storage space, and manage the computers for which you are responsible.
- Ability to control backups. Top cloud backup solutions for business will allow you to start and stop backup and recovery processes, and manage other features right from the web browser. This makes the life of the system administrator much easier.
- Good support. The most experienced IT professionals know that there are two types of knowledge: direct and indirect. Direct knowledge means that you yourself understand how to set up and manage applications flawlessly; and indirect knowledge means that you know who to ask whenever you have issues. As backups are an essential part of any modern business, you should be sure that your cloud backup vendor will answer your support requests 24/7/365.
The backup features of your future cloud solution should reflect the types of data and infrastructure you are about to back up. However, as a rule of thumb, you should look for solutions with file-level, system-image, and virtual-machine backup and recovery. You should also check whether you can benefit from advanced encryption and compression settings.
Lastly, make sure that the backup solution of your choice supports all the operating systems your team works with.
Step 3. Define a Destination
You are nearing the final steps in choosing a cloud backup solution for your business. Now it is time to choose the storage solution that you will use for backups.
In the cloud storage world, it's pretty easy to define your options. You should go for professional cloud storage solutions, such as AWS Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. Those will provide you the best feature set, scalability, and price. Why not just choose Google Drive or Dropbox? Those solutions were designed as file-sharing and collaboration services. They won't support the heavy upload and download operations that professional storage solutions will accommodate with ease.
3-2-1 Backup Rule for Maximum Data Protection
While cloud storage is safe, reliable, scalable, and cheap, there are some situations and setups that require you to employ a local backup solution, as well – for example, if you want to comply with the 3-2-1 backup rule.
This rule states that, for maximum backup data durability, you need to keep three copies of your data at two different storage locations, and one of these locations should be off-premises. Thus, in addition to the cloud storage solution that you have already chosen, you now need a local backup copy, too.
There are plenty of local storage solutions and your choice should be based on your infrastructural needs. There are simple and cheap options, such as removable hard drives, and expensive and complicated (yet fast and reliable) options like NAS devices with RAID arrays.
Step 4. Choose a Solution
Now it's time to pick a cloud backup solution that fits your needs. MSP360 Managed Backup is a simple and reliable backup solution for your business. Here is a list of its distinctive features:
- Supports all major public cloud storage solutions, including AWS Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, Backblaze B2, and Wasabi.
- Provides a web-based, single-pane-of-glass management console where you can back up and recover any number of computers.
- Provides fast recovery times to existing hardware or virtual environments, including cloud solutions such as Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure VM.
No matter how complicated your infrastructure is, and how demanding your recovery time and recovery point objectives are, MSP360 Managed Backup will flexibly scale up to your business needs.