Backing up to the cloud, let me count the ways – Part 1: Definitons

Posted by Gina Rosenthal in cloud | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m doing some market research for AppAssure, as well as planning for a Microsoft-sponsored webinar on how AppAssure can send archives directly to Azure. As well as about a half a dozen other projects, that’s just how product marketers roll. ūüôā

One thing that is becoming very clear to me from these two activities in particular is that people are still playing pretty fast and loose with terminology when it comes to backups, recovery, and cloud. So putting on my education hat, let’s talk about what it means to “back up to the cloud”. This post got longer than I thought, so it is going to be 2 or 3 posts now.

Let’s back all the way up to defining the basics: backing up and Disaster Recovery (DR, you may see people talk about the term DRaaS when talking about cloud). One of the reasons Greg Schulz and I started BackupU¬†was to help people understand basic data protection terminology, honestly I think there’s still a real need for it. Here are definitions for DR and backups from a book I always look at for good technical definitions,¬†EMC’s Information, Storage and Management book (2009):

  • Backup: A copy of production data
  • Disaster Recovery (DR):¬†The process, policies, and procedures for restoring operations that are critical to the resumption of business, including regaining access to data.

So what about defining “the cloud”, what’s a good definition for that? The edition of EMC’s ISM book that I have didn’t cover cloud, and it was published in 2009, that’s only SIX YEARS y’all. Our industry is moving fast, it’s important to get these words right! The problem is, “cloud” is a pretty misty (get it?) term that covers lots of ground.

NIST gives a comprehensive definition for cloud computing, breaking down the essential characteristics, service models, and deployment models for the practice of cloud computing. I think when we hear the term “cloud” being thrown around, usually folks are referring to some combination of service models and deployment models:

  • Service models:
    • Software as a Service (SaaS): Using a cloud provider’s applications that run on the provider’s cloud infrastructure
    • Platform as a Service (PaaS):¬†Deploying applications you build or purchase on a cloud provider’s infrastructure, using the languages, libraries, services, and tools provided by the provider. The provider manages and controls the cloud infrastructure.
    • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS):¬†Provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources so you can run software (operating systems and applications). You can control the operating systems, applications, storage, and maybe networking, but the provider manages and controls the cloud infrastructure.
  • Deployment Models:
    • Private Cloud:¬†Cloud infrastructure used by one single organization. It can be owned and managed by the org, or a third party. It can exist in the organization’s data center (aka on premises), or at a third party’s data center (aka off premises).
    • Public Cloud:¬†Cloud infrastructure open for use by the general public. It resides in the data center of whoever owns/operates/manages it.
    • Hybrid Cloud:¬†Combo of private and public cloud infrastructures.
    • NOTE: NIST also mentions community cloud, leaving it out for now since I never hear anyone talk about it.

Now that we have the terms defined, the next post is going to talk about common scenarios people use for backing up to the cloud.


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