Hybrid clouds are complex ecosystems that leverage components from public and private clouds with on-premise resources. Organizations implement hybrid cloud strategies for various reasons, but often because these architectures enable you to lower capital expenses, leverage various types of backup and security.
This article explores the relationship between hybrid clouds and backup strategies and examines five best practices you can use when implementing hybrid cloud data protection.
What Is a Hybrid Cloud?
Hybrid clouds are computing environments that combine public, private, or on-premises resources in a single system. These clouds share access, data, and applications between the infrastructures and grant greater computing flexibility and control than public cloud-only systems.
With a hybrid cloud, companies can carefully decide where data and applications should be stored to maximize security and availability and minimize latency. This means the scalability and distribution of cloud resources are accessible while sensitive or regulated data is kept secure. Additionally, organizations can use cloud resources to provide burst capacity for on-premises resources and extend the life of established hardware.
Some of the main benefits of hybrid clouds include:
- Lower capital expenses: Hybrid clouds can help you lower your capital expenses by reducing the need to purchase or maintain on-premises servers and other hardware. Cloud services manage infrastructure for you, converting capital expenses into more flexible and lower debt, operational expenses.
- Agility to explore and innovate: Teams can use hybrid solutions to use cloud resources on-demand temporarily and flexibly. This means teams can quickly spin up and take down development and test environments without impacting on-premise performance or making costly investments.
- Security: Most organizations have data and operations that require varying levels of privacy and access. For example, you may want to keep financial documents on-site while allowing customer-facing applications to be hosted in the cloud. Hybrid solutions let you isolate system components and make it easier to layer security measures and access controls.
The Rise of Hybrid Cloud Backup
Using hybrid cloud resources for backup solutions is a use case that is gaining in popularity. These solutions sync data between local and cloud resources. This enables teams to eliminate single points of failure while ensuring that they can still access data quickly and consistently.
With a hybrid cloud backup strategy, the latency that can come with cloud resources is no longer an issue. Likewise, Internet connectivity doesn’t prevent data from being accessible.
Meanwhile, syncing to cloud resources enables organizations to leverage the cloud's scalability to ensure that storage resources fit their needs. This eliminates the need for additional expensive hardware purchases and enables teams to free up on-premises resources by moving archives and backups to the cloud.
Typically, hybrid solutions are based on appliances, installed on-premises. These appliances use object storage and store a finite amount of data, usually a few full backups and a certain number of incremental backups worth. Periodically or continuously, depending on your set up, this appliance data is synced to the cloud. It can then be overwritten as needed to maintain a crash-consistent backup. This enables you to maintain a local restore point while accounting for disaster recovery.
5 Best Practices for Hybrid Cloud Data Protection
When storing your data in the cloud, there are certain security measures you need to take. Because clouds are Internet-facing and often managed by third-parties, there are risks you should account for to ensure your systems remain secure. Below are five best practices you can use to account for these risks.
1. Plan before you deploy: When considering a hybrid deployment, you should start by evaluating your data and assets' security priority. This requires assessing the privacy level or sensitivity of data and determining what data regulations might apply. With this information, you can determine the potential impact if data is breached or lost and evaluate if cloud resources can provide the security level you need.
Another part of planning is fully understanding your security responsibility in any cloud resources you plan to use. While many cloud providers offer security services and tooling to secure data and access, it is up to you to understand how to effectively implement these tools.
2. Create a comprehensive encryption strategy: Encryption should be used by default whenever possible. This means encrypting data at rest and during any transfers. Most cloud providers have built-in encryption, and many enable you to manage your own keys.
Another aspect to consider is when to encrypt data. If you encrypt before transferring to the cloud, you can guarantee greater security since there is no record of encryption keys in the cloud, and encryption cannot be broken in transit.
3. Backup your cloud data: While cloud resources are a good option for backing up on-premises data, cloud data also needs to be backed up. This is especially true for data that is only stored in the cloud. Many providers automatically include data redundancy in their services, but this is not the same as backups because you do not have control over the copy.
When making backups, make sure that you are storing data in separate locations, whether this means on-site, in different services, or in different regions. You want to be sure that there are no single points of failure in your data protection strategy.
4. Secure all your endpoints: When using cloud resources, your data is naturally more exposed due to Internet-facing endpoints. These endpoints are needed to access and transfer data but present a greater risk in terms of cyberattack. To negate these risks, you need to ensure that your endpoints are protected, and that traffic is monitored and filtered.
Whenever possible, try to apply whitelisting to your endpoint protection systems. This method enables you to specify which IPs are trusted and enables you to block threats without having to know threat details. Whitelisting can secure traffic without impeding your own connectivity.
5. Create a business continuity and disaster recovery plan: Hybrid cloud systems can be great for creating an effective business continuity or disaster recovery plan, but you have to put the right measures in place. It is not enough to rely on data syncing to ensure that your data or resources remain accessible.
Instead, you should set up specific failover plans in case either your on-premises or cloud resources go out. With failovers in place, you can ensure minimal downtime for your operations and reduce the chance that data or assets are lost.
Organizations leverage hybrid cloud environments to ensure the protection of their data. When using hybrid cloud for backup, you can leverage cloud scalability and security without compromising on-premises control. However, before you leverage this control, be sure to create a hybrid cloud data protection plan, as well as a comprehensive encryption strategy.
When backing up your cloud data, you should remember to secure all endpoints. If possible, you can also benefit from creating a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. These practices can help you properly assess your needs and avoid future overhead.