Although investing in a storage cloud provider may bring many benefits, SA still lacks in the bandwidth department

Says , storage sales specialist at HP South Africa, “While this is a point made ad nauseam when discussing information technology issues in South Africa, the challenge of implementing cloud and cloud-based backup will still be the ability of the consumer to access these systems in a manner that offers an acceptable experience. At this time, our bandwidth is firstly too limited and secondly too expensive for broad implementations. It is improving but we are a long way from an offering that can benefit all.”

According to , business unit manager for backup recovery systems at EMC Southern Africa, “In South Africa, the biggest challenge is always bandwidth, or the lack thereof. This is why the major telcos have become early adopters of cloud computing and as-a-service solutions of all kinds. There’s no doubt that bandwidth is an enabler to making cloud more attractive.”

“Another challenge is that some customers’ existing technology infrastructures are archaic. A mindset shift is required whereby organisations accept that it is not necessary to own infrastructure, as cloud computing entitles them to certain infrastructure services as and when they are required,” Singh explains.

Says Day, “The concern around the cloud and virtual infrastructure is the ability for phenomenal growth and deployment of systems in very short time frames. This can leave traditional backup systems without the ability to backup the vast amount of systems and data now being generated – there will need to be a move to next generation storage as well as next generation backup solutions.”

Despite these challenges, the benefits of cloud-based storage are numerous, but companies must keep in mind that the onus for recovery and compliance falls to them. Warns Day, “While the cloud has allowed a limited portion of organisations in SA to move the location of data backup or responsibility of storing their data to a cloud provider, it has not removed the need to ensure that data is protected from both a recovery and compliance aspect.” According to Singh, “The advent of cloud computing has taken the operational responsibility of organisations managing their own information assets, and placed it on cloud-optimised infrastructure, where vendors use proven solutions to guarantee uptime and data . The use of cloud technologies reduces the risk of data loss, and the reduction or elimination of tape solutions is almost always a key result of migrating to a cloud infrastructure. In today’s world, information assets need to be 100% online, agile and available – without any specific residency.”

According to Greg Brans, business development manager for Symantec NetBackup, today we have cloud providers also being the telecommunication providers that provide the fixed land line links to the remote sites. “The approach is for these providers providing additional services to the fixed line service by backing up these remote sites at reduced cost. This is a ‘managed backup and recovery service’ to their customers. Customer purchases a cloud backup service for protecting the systems at the remote sites doing this at a lower cost, and reducing infrastructure cost, without need of skilled personnel,” he says.

Day explains, “While disk-based deduplication solutions are gaining rapid traction and reducing the amount of tape required, for terms of longevity and pure lowest cost per TB, storing data on tape is still a very real solution for now and the foreseeable future. The move to implement disk-based backup solutions is finally reaching acceptance. Disk-based backup has been a topic for some time and has been adopted by enterprises and some early adopters, but now seems to be gaining broad recognition as being a required part of all data protection solutions.”

According to Brans, the global trend is to offset tape offsite cost by backing up to disk and replicating the backup data into a shared cloud infrastructure.” This can reduce tape infrastructure, tape, and tape transportation cost. Backup data is replicated to the disaster recovery cloud site. Data is immediately available no need to recall tapes in the recovery scenario,” he says.

Singh believes that cloud storage, and its ability to consolidate remote site backup, has massive potential to simplify backup. “This is partly because having all aspects of the organisation’s IT infrastructure connected is far more advantageous than relying on physical data centres. Also, disaster recovery becomes far simpler, because it can be spread across multiple locations. There is also little need for on-site backups.”

Day believes the biggest changes in the next six to 18 months will be acceptance that next generation technologies and architectures are required to meet the demands of today’s virtual and cloud data centres. “The use of traditional storage architectures and backup systems offered by the majority of today’s IT vendors are not able to scale and change rapidly enough to meet modern data centre demands – next generation storage and dedupe 2.0 will gain broad acceptance and adoption.”

Singh says thanks to the proliferation and escalation of information attacks, one of the most significant trends is the of information, not only within the infrastructure but across mobile devices as well. “The free use of social media makes it possible for people to inadvertently share corporate information on an ungoverned space with little protection or monitoring,” says Singh. “Consequently, companies are starting to recognise that backup is equally critical, and that there is an urgent need to transform the way they protect their data.”

“It’s worth remembering that this is a journey, and the key to success lies in having a solution that can adapt to change as the business needs evolve,” Singh concludes.