Backups to the cloud –why not?!

Around the world, ElringKlinger uses Veeam Recovery to Microsoft Azure

Why run and maintain a potentially very complex infrastructure for backing up company data when the cloud can really cut these costs? Especially if backups are to be performed by external offices. But what about data security?



Admittedly, the topic of data backups has, for many IT managers, all the charm of a visit to the dentist – it’s essential but definitely not enjoyable. In these days of crypto trojan attacks on the one hand and data collections that are constantly growing in size and importance on the other, the relevance of data backups is now more evident that ever (though it was never really in any doubt).
It is precisely these ever-growing mountains of data that necessitate the use of increasingly powerful backup infrastructures. Otherwise, the vast volumes of data simply cannot be contained or backed up within the specified time periods.
Everything becomes slightly more complicated when data generated in company’s subsidiaries and external offices also has to be backed up (centrally). In this case too, ever-growing data collections have to be transferred night after night through a bottleneck to the head office’s data centre. This bottleneck is usually a leased point-to-point data connection (MPLS, multi-protocol label switching), which promises greater security than a connection over the public Internet. However, it is also a lot more expensive and so the lines often have a narrower band than a standard Internet connection.
This was exactly the problem faced by automotive supplier ElringKlinger. The data transfers of the backups were placing such a load on the MPLS connection between the external office and the company headquarters that users were reporting delays in accessing the ERP system that was also operated at HQ, for example. After the company’s production processes began to use a fast, uninterrupted data connection, those responsible for backups began searching for a solution that did not rely on MPLS. They found and ultimately chose Microsoft Azure – for reasons including a smooth migration from on-premise to the cloud.

Compatible with virtually all applications

The advantage of cloud-based backups is that the data to be backed up is uploaded via the more powerful Internet connection rather than MPLS. For ElringKlinger, this makes no difference in terms of handling for the employees responsible for backups because the Veeam backup software used can communicate directly with the Azure cloud via an interface. Many other backup applications are also compatible with Azure.
For security-conscious IT specialists, the question immediately arises as to how data security can be ensured in this scenario. After all, backups contain the company’s “family silver”. Is this something that should really be uploaded using a public connection and managed by a service provider? With Azure, the answer is why not? But not, of course, in unencrypted form! Which is why it is essential to activate the encryption function of the backup solution used – and never share the key with the cloud provider.

So you see, the cloud doesn’t eliminate the need for data backups. But it does make this necessary evil a lot less unpleasant.