Backup as a service is becoming an increasingly attractive option for enterprises of all types and sizes, primarily because it eliminates the need to rely on costly on-site resources to preserve data for both short- and long-term purposes. Now, at a time when many organizations are finding themselves forced to adopt a long-term work-from-home staffing model, it's beginning to make even more sense to move backups off site.
While a gradual transition toward distributed workloads had been underway for a long time -- well before the first pandemic-related stay-at-home order was issued -- the rapid shift of millions of workers into remote locations has laid bare backup-as-a-service benefits, observed Carmi Levy, director of content marketing at Info-Tech Research Group.
"Backup as a service simplifies the process by which data is managed and backed up," he noted. "[It also] frees front-line support workers from the need to manage a conventional storage infrastructure at a time when it clearly isn't feasible to do so."
Benefits of backup as a service
Backup as a service (BaaS) removes physicality from the backup storage offering, enabling backed-up data to be accessed from anywhere. "End users who require data to be restored from backups are no longer constrained by the need for support workers to manually execute the process on physical media," Levy explained. Before the pandemic hit, this would have been a convenient selling point for BaaS providers. "Now, it's the difference between getting work done and missing a deadline or losing a deal," he said.
Should a remote worker suffer a system failure, BaaS can help the individual recover lost data unassisted. "A cloud backup offered by BaaS technology would allow the employee to restore a backup remotely and get back to work faster than having to go into the office," observed Phil Strazzulla, CEO and founder of Select Software Reviews, a software review publisher. "In times of quarantine, a physical-only backup in an office location could be damaging to productivity," he said.
Businesses can be assured that data with BaaS providers is being efficiently managed and available on request should issues arise and a backup is required, said Rahul Mahna, managing director of managed security services within the process, risk and technology solutions unit at EisnerAmper, a global business advisory firm. "With the shift from the office to working from home during the pandemic, BaaS could not be more relevant -- especially when it comes to using non-company-issued hardware," he added.
The biggest pitfall of any as-a-service platform is provider dependency, Strazzulla said. "If the company goes under, you may have difficulty getting your backup data into another data center in a timely manner," he warned.
False assumptions, meanwhile, can lead to disappointment and disaster. "Since many companies have moved to cloud-based software, such as Office 365, they tend to expect that the service is automatically bundled with a means to back up their data," Mahna said. Yet that's not usually the case. "It's important to offset this risk by doing a thorough read through of the [provider's] terms and conditions," he advised.
An important consideration when transitioning to BaaS is maintaining network accessibility since organizations with remote workforces often see higher internet and network utilization.
"Enterprises will also need to be mindful of perceptions about storing confidential data in the cloud and address users' security concerns," observed Anant Adya, senior vice president and business head for cloud, infrastructure and security services, the Americas and Asia-Pacific, at research firm Infosys. "It's also imperative that companies prioritize adherence to industry compliances around data storage and recovery," he added.
Selecting a BaaS vendor
BaaS vendors are looking forward to signing up thousands of new customers during the current crisis. Yet adopters should be cautious and alert before committing to any BaaS provider. "Follow vendor selection best practices to ensure you choose the optimal partner," Info-Tech Research Group's Levy advised. "Failure to do so could expose your organization to unnecessary risk of data loss or breach."
Levy recommended looking for vendors with a history of successful partnerships. "Request and review customer testimonials, and reach out to cited customers for deeper dives on what did and did not work for them," he urged. "Ensure that your due diligence includes testimonials from customers who weren't necessarily 'served up' by the vendors."
A strong cloud-based governance model with AI-based analytics and a central governance console view of all physical and virtual workloads for backup and recovery requirements is a focal attribute of a successful BaaS offering, Adya noted. "A pay-per-use model is also critical, as it drives extensive user scalability while reducing total cost of ownership for any enterprise," he added.
In a time of major financial strain, BaaS stands apart for its overall cost-effectiveness. "It allows you to use -- and pay for -- only the storage you need, without requiring a major up-front capital investment," Levy said.
Don't assume that backup-as-a-service benefits will be a magic bullet to solve increasingly complex organizational storage needs. "[The technology] will not single-handedly replace other tools in the backup/storage toolkit, nor will it magically resolve underlying weaknesses in the existing data management roadmap," Levy advised. "Keep this in mind as you enlist stakeholder support for continued investment in this critically important area of infrastructure."