Tips for Choosing a Cloud Provider for Database Backups

Tips for Choosing a Cloud Provider for Database Backups

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Sarojini Devi Nagappan
02 July 2020

There are many cloud providers which offer a variety of storage option. Choosing the right one can be tricky. In general, you need to look out for the storage options, features, and the costs to be able to have the best storage to suit your needs and fits your budget. Cloud storage can store transaction-intensive data like web data or backups where the requirements differ both in technical and business requirements. When choosing a cloud storage provider, data should not be the only factor. Instead, you should look at the security, functionality, cost, and other benefits to meet business and technology requirements.

In general, cloud providers either one or more of these cloud storage options:

  • Object Storage is storage which promotes scalability and flexibility. It stores data in the form of objects and suitable to store large volumes of unstructured data. It is ideal for applications that work with a growing amount of data, backups, and archives.
  • Block Storage stores data files on Storage Area Network (SAN) or cloud storage and is great for database applications like ERP, which require low latency and dedicated storage.
  • File Storage is perfect for storing large content repositories, media files, and directories.

If you are looking to store database backups, object storage would be the best option. Many cloud providers offer cloud object storage. You can choose from the pioneers like AWS, Google, and Microsoft Azure which offer premium cloud storage or opt for affordable providers like Digital Ocean, City Cloud, and many others. This blog gives you some pointers on selecting the right cloud provider for cloud storage to store your backups.

 Recognizing the Purpose of the Storage Space

The best way to start it is understanding the purpose of the cloud storage then decides on the cloud provider. Cloud storage can be used as a supplement to your current storage infrastructure, a place for archives and backups, or both. If your cloud storage is primarily to store application data and shared resources, then you would need storage to support heavy transactions, multiple access, and performance. However, if you are looking for backup storage, then size and disaster recovery plan, security and compliance would be criteria to look out for in the cloud provider. Cloud storage can serve both purposes, and the type of data gives a good indication on costing, data protection, functionality requirements, and governance.

Verify the Security Standards

Security is the most important criteria when it comes to data. The cloud storage should employ encryption for at- rest and in-transit data. At the very least, the storage and backup services need to apply AES encryption to stored data and TLS in transmission. These encryption protect the data from being intercepted by anyone during any communication, including the cloud provider itself. 

Check on Compliance

Look for cloud providers offering storage solutions which observe privacy laws and comply with some regulations to provide maximum data protection.  The privacy laws dictate on data access and storage location. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) has strict regulations on storing sensitive data. Also, several EU members do not allow to store sensitive data outside the national boundaries. Cloud providers having data centers in these countries must adhere to these government regulations. Some cloud providers also support HIPAA, SOX, PCI DSS, and many more which would be beneficial if you are working with data requiring this regulatory compliance.

Look for Easy Management Tools

While storage and backups might look like an easy task, but it can be time-consuming and may require constant monitoring. Look for cloud providers who provide easy configuration tools to set access policies, setup configurations, and data transitions; this would save a lot of time in migrating to cloud storage. Also, look out if the cloud storage can integrate with other 3rd party software providers as this allows you to have other features without relying only on the cloud provider.

Check Availability and Durability Policies

Although cloud providers claim to have at least 99.99% uptime, it is always good to check their SLA on the different offerings on availability and durability. The requirement for a cold backup would not be the same for the active mission-critical data; therefore, cloud providers might offer different solutions priced higher to achieve high availability and durability. If you are running on an eCommerce platform, uptime is going to be your utmost priority, and you need to ensure your cloud provider can give you high availability and durability at all times. 

Evaluate the Costs

Of all, cost is the most crucial point and also quite complicated as cloud providers often display their cost to make it look cheap at a glance. There are three criteria for evaluating the cost of cloud storage; storage cost, access to data, and SLA. Storage cost is usually calculated per GB depending on the type of data and activity level. Storage for cold backups is usually lower but could increase based on volume and retention period. If you require a guarantee on uptime and lower downtime, then you will need to work on the SLA which would add on the cost. If you are regularly accessing data, especially in large volumes, this would also incur an additional fee. So it is wise to work on your cloud storage requirements based on these three factors to get the best for what you pay.

Manage Your Database Backups on Backup Ninja

You don’t always need to pick a cloud provider which offers backup automation; instead, you can opt for tools that can provide these services for your cloud storage. You need to ensure that the cloud provider supports seamless integration with other tools which allows you to have two separate solutions, one for storage and one to manage the backup procedure which indirectly prevents vendor lock-in situations. For instance, if you are running open-source databases like PostgreSQL or MySQL in your environment, you can have your backups stored on your favorite cloud provider and then have tools like Backup Ninja to manage your database backups. Backup Ninja is a simple and secure database backup tool which allows you to work with the cloud provider of your choice to have a safe backup on the cloud storage. Currently, Backup Ninja works with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, City Cloud, Digital Ocean, ScanNet, Exoscale, Scaleway, Safespring, and uses both encryption at-rest as well as in-transit when processing and storing your backup files. Also, it gives you a perfect dashboard to monitor your backups. 

Manage Your Database Backup on Backup Ninja

Conclusion

Selecting cloud providers specifically for cloud storage can be challenging if you are not ready with what is required of the cloud storage in your environment. As mentioned before, it is not only about the data, but you need to consider security, performance, and other functionality to ensure continuous high availability. Using cloud storage for database backup not only allows you to have redundant backups but also facilitates a smooth recovery of your database in case of any disaster, including ransomware attacks. A right cloud provider, secure cloud storage, and a backup management tool is a perfect ecosystem to manage any backups cost-effectively.

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