With the global hybrid cloud market poised to reach $91 billion (£69bn) by 2021, as recent findings by analyst organisation Markets and Standards show, it is critical that companies assess whether their cloud strategy meets their evolving storage and recovery needs.
Businesses should resist the temptation for a “rough-and-ready” cloud deployment and instead have a genuine business conversation about cloud adoption. They should consider the comprehensive needs and growth trajectory of the business and the deep and lasting effects that cloud adoption can have when wedded to backup and recovery processes.
Maintaining an in-house data backup and recovery strategy can be costly, slow and admin-heavy. It may also be a burden to the IT department, preventing teams from addressing real business challenges. The option for businesses to outsource this function can then provide a very attractive alternative.
What could prevent companies from deploying a suitable cloud solution?
However, there is currently too much “noise” in the public domain when it comes to cloud adoption. Three of sets of pressures, specifically, are mounting on business owners. Firstly, there is a swath and flux of information and misinformation about the public cloud which makes it difficult for business owners to have a settled view of what is available to them. Secondly, the barriers to access and costs of setting up on the cloud are low, which may lead businesses to adopt a solution that is ill-equipped to deal with their needs. Finally, with businesses rapidly digitising their approach, data is growing at an exponential rate and there is a growing need for it to be stored and analysed.
How should companies frame their cloud deployment decision?
Mindful of these pressures, companies should ensure that they take a step back and explore solutions that are tailored to their storage and recovery needs. To this end, they should first decide whether they wish to archive data or opt for greater storage capacity. They should prepare for potential bottlenecks by, for example, assessing the impact that low latency periods might have on their backup and recovery capability. This “proactive” mind-set will stand companies in good stead and will help them prove return on investment as they roll out new deployments.
Having laid down these working assumptions and plans, businesses should perform a stringent cost/benefit analysis when it comes to choosing a provider. They should press providers to supply them with a complete and clear account of the benefits of each solution.
What should they assess before adopting a specific cloud solution?
From a storage, backup and recovery standpoint, taking a long-term view is necessary. Ahead of adopting a specific solution, businesses should assess the following:
- Company growth rate: Business needs and goals are constantly evolving. For this reason management teams should not rely upon the thinking and budget constraints of today and should rather take a long-term view, accounting for the growth of business’ data 5 to 10 years ahead. A terabyte decision today becomes a petabyte decision in 5 years, putting significant strain on an inadequate backup and recovery solution.
- Data usage: Organisations should also be methodical in the way they sort and classify their data. Companies and individuals often harbor an almost “emotional” connection to their data. Consequently, it can be over protected and storage can easily be “maxed out” through lack of control. Addressing this, organisations should categorise data and determine what needs to be backed up, how long it should be stored and how fast it should be restored.
- Cloud consolidation: Businesses should also take into account that the cloud market may undergo a consolidation whereby giants such as Microsoft and Amazon eclipse smaller providers, a trend which is gathering pace according to a recent Forrester report. Cloud storage migration is in its infancy, and challenges could arise if companies wish to withdraw their data from a provider. The cost of changing providers could also be prohibitive, especially for businesses under budget constraints.
- Regulation/legislation: Businesses should be privy to regulatory changes with regard to data, as these can have a significant impact on their storage strategy; The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may lead to sticking points when companies wish to move data across borders.
- Environment: Storing large amounts of data on-premise can generate a significant energy bill. Adopting a cloud solution can go a long way to alleviating that carbon footprint and associated cost.
Is there a way for companies to test the water with cloud adoption?
Whilst the benefits of flexibility and innovation that cloud affords are widely documented, businesses should take a cautious, incremental approach to cloud adoption rather than one relying upon quick fixes and the most cost efficient options.
Given that businesses cannot outsource 100% in the interim, they should experiment with a hybrid cloud solution and build a data protection strategy that is aligned to their users and endpoints. In this way they can test the water by moving terabytes off site at a time and measuring how the business responds. This measured approach will be most effective in ensuring companies reap the flexibility and IT innovation benefits of cloud adoption in the long-term.