SMBs: When Considering Cloud Backup Service, Ask These Questions

Kim Mays
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Mid-Market Cloud Services Adoption Trends

As I discussed in a previous post, for small to midsized businesses, cloud backup services can simplify the process of backing up data and storing it offsite. Such services are available in many service levels and fit the budgets and data storage needs of a variety of businesses.

Before a company signs on with a managed service provider (MSP) for backup services, however, it should answer questions to head off potential issues:

  • What type of service does the company need?
  • Will there be latency issues?
  • What is the service provider’s availability?
  • How will security be handled?
  • Are there compliance policies that will need to be followed?
  • How will cloud backups mesh with current policies for data recovery and/or disaster recovery?

When asking what type of service the business needs, the SMB should consider that most MSPs offer cloud services for primary data backup, archiving, primary storage and secondary storage. Each of these types of storage has considerations for the types of data backed up, how long it is stored, and whether it is the main copy of the data or a replica or secondary copy of the data that is backed up. ComputerWeekly offers a detailed explanation of each category to help businesses realize the type of service each requires.

As for latency issues, most data can be backed up fairly effectively asynchronously, however, some types of backups require caching devices or gateways. Be sure to discuss possible latency challenges with the service provider.

Another integral question to ask the MSP is their availability. Data centers tend to be ranked by tier, the lowest being a tier 1, which does not provide redundant components. The “availability” or “up time” for tier 1 data centers may be lower than higher, say, tier 4, data centers. Having this information upfront will help you decide what works best for business needs.

A critical issue that must be discussed with the MSP is that of security. How secure will your data be during transit? What type of encryption is offered? And who will manage the encryption keys?

Of course, going hand-in-hand with security is compliance policy. Many regulations, such as HIPAA, require certain levels of security for data. Be sure to check compliance policies and verify how the data will be handled with the MSP.

Lastly, ensure that the backups and restoration of data meet the requirements set up in the business’ disaster recovery plan. If the MSP cannot restore lost data within a timeframe set up in the DR plan, the business may need to revise the plan or find another service provider.

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