Backup is one of those areas that is vital and yet somehow neglected. Organizations often believe they are doing a fine job of backup. Yet, beneath the surface, neglect is evident:
- The data in some systems, especially newer applications, is not included in the backup schedule.
- Backup windows are so long that backup jobs don’t complete.
- Data within backups is corrupted.
- Backups take so much time that storage and backup administrators begin to cut corners.
- When backups are needed, recovery doesn’t happen or part of the data can’t be recovered.
- Backup testing is never done.
- Backup infrastructure is aging but is too low a priority to be upgraded.
With many organizations suffering from one or more of these issues, it is no surprise that backup-as-a-service (BaaS) is popular. A company pays a provider that takes care of all the underlying infrastructure, keeps the software updated, and provides the storage.
Here are some of the top trends in the BaaS market:
1. Automated monitoring
Companies offering BaaS are finding that each new customer has a different batch of backup applications they need managed, according to Bocada.
This makes it a struggle for BaaS providers to cost-effectively manage the complexity while also meeting SLA guidelines. And as the number of backup software applications on the market is growing, the juggling act isn’t going to get easier.
A new BaaS monitoring report by Bocada found that 44% of BaaS providers anticipate automating the monitoring of backup applications under a single dashboard within the next one to two years. Automated, centralized management will help BaaS operators balance these factors and grow their business line.
“Get ready for BaaS providers to implement centralized, automated oversight of heterogeneous backup environments,” Bocada CEO Matt Hall said.
2. Backup cost management
Many of the organizations that added BaaS didn’t consider the full financial implications, according to Michael Hoeck, an analyst with Gartner.
They primarily looked at the avoidance of major CapEx costs, such as refreshing the entire backup hardware and software environments.
They never took the time to fully consider the overall cost of BaaS. That needs to change in order to avoid unexpected bills.
Hoeck advised users to “thoroughly understand the long-term total cost of ownership of moving from perpetual licensing to subscription-based licensing models.”
3. Pay attention to fine print
Customers used to just sign on to a BaaS provider thinking that one pricing model was much the same as any other. But awareness has changed.
Vendors are under more scrutiny to provide full details of how their pricing works. Users are now looking under the hood of contracts to understand the cost implications of how a BaaS vendor charges, said Hoeck with Gartner.
Hoeck recommended that users take the time to review the different pricing models for BaaS, such as being priced per virtual machine (VM), per socket, per node, universal, front-end per TB, back-end per TB, or based on the number of agents.
Each one will result in a different overall cost, and there is no right one for all organizations. The outcome will vary based on the environment.
“Invest in the right model based on the application and infrastructure road map of the organization,” Hoeck said.
4. Use of the public cloud
The public cloud has a perception issue in the enterprise — sometimes with good reason.
Security and compliance issues abound, particularly in fields like financial services and health care.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the public cloud should be avoided. In fact, a smart strategy is to prioritize backup needs based on factors, such as cost, data sensitivity, security, compliance, and latency.
Use expensive tiers and on-premises storage for key data, and use the public cloud for inexpensive storage of less critical backup data. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Azure Blob storage, for example, are two of the popular public cloud storage targets.
“Select vendors that support tiering of backup copies to the public cloud and in the public cloud to save on on-premises storage costs,” said Hoeck with Gartner.
“Choose solutions that support recovery of applications from backup copies in the public cloud to address test/development or DR use cases.”
5. BaaS alternatives
One final trend to discuss: Many are deploying BaaS when it might not be the right choice.
For some, the SaaS model will work fine. Turn over everything to the provider and have backup delivered over the cloud. But for others infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) might be a better fit.
It all depends on the maturity of the organization, the state of the underlying backup infrastructure, the overall costs, and the availability of personnel to address backup.
In some cases, more control will be required over backup workloads, data movement, and security. Thus, IaaS will work better. As those needs diminish a little, PaaS may be the right choice. And for those happy to hand over everything to the provider, BaaS is the best way to go.