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DigitalOcean now offers daily backup capability for VMs

The latest feature for IaaS cloud provider DigitalOcean enables daily backups and faster recoveries, but enterprises still require more for mission-critical workloads.

DigitalOcean has added daily backup capabilities to its VM instances, aligning its cloud offering more with SMB customers than its developer-centric origins.

The cloud IaaS provider previously offered backups on a weekly basis for Droplets, the vendor's term for its Linux VMs.

The new daily backup capability targets SMBs or startups that may want an alternative to costly hyperscalers, such as AWS, or need a secondary location for workloads, according to Jerome Wendt, analyst and CEO at Data Center Intelligence Group.

"SMBs and startups can kind of change on a whim. They don't want to be tasked with managing backups, but they don't necessarily want to pay a whole lot extra for it," Wendt said.

Daily service

DigitalOcean's customers have demanded the daily backup capability as they've continued to grow operations in the vendor's cloud, according to Aaqib Gadit, chief revenue officer at DigitalOcean. These larger workloads slowed DigitalOcean's backup process as well.

"A lot of our customers have grown significantly in the past several years," Gadit said. "It was taking a lot of time for us [to backup] before, especially the larger Droplets."

The backup service continues to require customers to choose a four-hour time slot for the process. Restores for the backups should occur faster than in the past, as the backup service now tracks incremental changes rather than the entire user infrastructure for every backup.

Customers will be able to keep up to seven daily backups with a retention period of seven days per backup. The daily service charges 30% of the user's target Droplet instance for a given backup. The cloud still offers weekly backups; each is retained for a four-week period for 20% of the Droplet's price.

Daily backups are currently only available for specific New York City and San Francisco DigitalOcean data centers with a worldwide rollout planned in the coming months.

The minimum RPO enterprises go with is 24 hours. Why would [DigitalOcean] go for anything different in their cloud?
Marc StaimerFounder and president, Dragon Slayer Consulting

Parity clause

Daily backups aren't a new technology for most IaaS providers, but the importance customers place on this service shows how uses evolve over time, said Brent Ellis, senior analyst at Forrester Research.

Smaller clouds, such as DigitalOcean, or its cloud IaaS competitor, Vultr, started by focusing on developer experimentation, where data could be wiped out any time. Over time, they've evolved into managing more formal business workloads, which requires continuity, Ellis said. Vultr also offers a daily backup capability.

Daily backups are useful, Ellis said, but enterprise demands likely require even faster recoveries, down to the hour or faster.

"Restoring a week's worth of work is too much of a lift these days," Ellis said. "At larger enterprises, they want that gap to be even smaller."

A daily backup should be considered the baseline recovery point objective (RPO) for almost any business, according to Marc Staimer, founder and president of Dragon Slayer Consulting.

RPOs are a customer's standard for an acceptable age for data that can be recovered for normal operations to resume without significant disruptions, either technical or financial. RPOs are part of most enterprise disaster recovery plans and determine how often backups are made.

Most IaaS enterprise buyers are likely using a cloud with more features than DigitalOcean offers, or they have a separate backup service. But that shouldn't mean SMB buyers have to accept lower continuity standards, Staimer said.

"The minimum RPO enterprises go with is 24 hours. Why would [DigitalOcean] go for anything different in their cloud?" Staimer said. "They're following standard operating procedure."

Tim McCarthy is a journalist from the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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