17 November 2023  —  Acronis

Hybrid Cloud Backup Solution: Ensuring data security and reliability

Table of contents
What is hybrid cloud backup?
Why do I need hybrid cloud backup?
Benefits of hybrid cloud backup
How does hybrid cloud backup work?
Scalability and flexibility
Choosing the best hybrid cloud backup solution for your needs
Evaluating service providers
Compatibility and integration
Cost considerations
Implementing hybrid cloud backup
Data classification and prioritization
Planning the backup strategy
Setting up backup infrastructure
Testing and monitoring
Hybrid cloud backup best practices
Overcoming challenges in hybrid cloud backup
Future trends in hybrid cloud backup
Lets sum up everything
Acronis Cyber Protect
formerly Acronis Cyber Backup

In the sections that follow, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the concept of hybrid cloud backup, shedding light on its capacity to fortify data against catastrophic loss, theft or corruption. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, understanding how to leverage this approach to backups is crucial for organizations striving to maintain the integrity and availability of mission-critical data.

Understanding hybrid cloud backup

In the fast-paced realm of data management and cybersecurity, hybrid cloud backup has risen to the forefront as a robust and reliable choice. In this section, we will examine the core components of hybrid cloud backup, explore the methods of implementation, and highlight the benefits it brings to the table.

What is hybrid cloud backup?

Hybrid cloud backups combine the strengths of both on-premises and cloud-based solutions. In this configuration, critical data is replicated and stored utilizing a combination of local servers or appliances and off-site cloud. This approach offers a seamless integration of private and public clouds, allowing businesses to capitalize on the advantages and redundancies offered by both without being confined to a single storage solution.

Why do I need hybrid cloud backup?

The necessity for hybrid cloud backup arises from a number of challenges that small businesses and enterprises face in today's digital world. First, the sheer volume of backed up data can be staggering, making traditional backup and recovery solutions inadequate for complete protection.

Cyberthreats and data breaches also pose significant — and increasing — risks, demanding robust measures to ensure data security and recovery. Statistics reveal that 60% of companies that suffer data loss shut down within six months, underlining the gravity of data protection challenges.

Moreover, the increasing demand for data accessibility and continuity, especially in the wake of disasters or system failures, calls for a solution that can restore operations with minimal downtime. Hybrid cloud backup addresses each of these pressing needs by offering a flexible and resilient data protection solution.

Benefits of hybrid cloud backup

When backing up a business’s valuable data, there are several compelling reasons why hybrid cloud backups are a compelling choice:

  • Scalability: SMBs can easily scale their storage needs as data volumes grow, ensuring that they never run out of space while avoiding the upfront costs associated with expanding on-premises infrastructure.
  • Data redundancy: Hybrid cloud backup offers exceptional redundancy by storing data both on local servers and in off-site cloud data centers. This redundancy ensures data availability even in the face of local hardware failures or disasters  
  • Cost efficiency: By optimizing the use of cloud resources, organizations can achieve significant cost savings compared to traditional backup methods that require costly upfront hardware investments.
  • Flexibility: Hybrid cloud backup provides the flexibility to choose which data to keep on-premises and which to store in the cloud, giving users more control over their data storage strategy.  

How does hybrid cloud backup work?

In this section, we’ll look at the key processes and mechanisms that enable hybrid cloud’s effectiveness in safeguarding data. Understanding these components is an important part of grasping the intricacies of this advanced data protection solution.

Data replication and synchronization

The process of data replication and synchronization sits at the core of any data backup system. This governs the continuous copying of data from on-premises infrastructure to local drives, the cloud or other off-site storage facilities. Here's how the process works within the context of hybrid cloud backup:

Data capture: Hybrid cloud backup solutions employ agents or connectors that continuously monitor and capture changes to data on local servers and devices. This ensures that all modifications, additions and deletions are accurately tracked for backup.

Data compression and deduplication: To optimize resource usage, the captured data is often compressed and subjected to deduplication, which eliminates redundant data. This efficient handling of data minimizes the network bandwidth load and storage requirements.

Incremental backups: Hybrid cloud backup typically utilizes an incremental approach, where only new or changed data is transmitted to the cloud. This incremental backup strategy reduces the time and resources required for data transfer, keeping this solution’s costs down without sacrificing readiness.

Encryption and security measures

Data security is paramount in hybrid cloud backup, and it's achieved through robust encryption and other security measures, depending on the service provider:

Encryption in transit: Data is encrypted during transmission from on-premises to the cloud, safeguarding it from interception or tampering. Secure communication protocols like SSL / TLS are typically used for this task.

Encryption at rest: Once data reaches the cloud, it is stored in encrypted form. Advanced encryption algorithms are utilized to protect the data at rest, ensuring that even if there’s a breach, the information remains secure.

Access control and authentication: Access to the backup data is tightly controlled, typically through user authentication and access permissions. Multifactor authentication and role-based access control are common security features.

Scalability and flexibility

Hybrid cloud backup is designed to be both scalable and flexible, allowing business users to adapt to changing data requirements and preferences:

Scalability: As data volumes grow, hybrid cloud backup solutions can easily scale by provisioning additional cloud storage space. With this, there’s no need for large hardware investments or overpaying for unused resources.

Data tiering: Some hybrid cloud backup solutions offer the capability to classify data based on security or accessibility requirements. Frequently accessed data may be kept on local servers for low-latency access, while less frequently used data can be stored in the cloud, optimizing resource usage.

Hybrid deployment models: Organizations can choose the deployment model that best suits their needs. Varying balances of local and cloud-based resource usage allows for optimal tailoring based on security needs, costs and data volume.

Choosing the best hybrid cloud backup solution for your needs

The search for your ideal hybrid cloud backup solution hinges on several key factors. In this section, we will guide you through the essential considerations to help you make an informed choice that aligns with your business’s unique data protection needs.

Assessing your data backup requirements

The first step of determining your SMB’s needs involves a thorough assessment of your data backup requirements. This includes:

  • Data volume and growth: Determine the volume of data you need to backup and anticipate its growth rate. This assessment will help you pinpoint the storage capacity required and scalability expectations.
  • Recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO): Define your RPO and RTO which, respectively, signify how recent your recovered data must be, and how quickly you need to recover it.
  •  Data sensitivity and compliance: Identify the sensitivity of your data and any industry-specific compliance requirements. Data that requires strict security measures may demand specialized backup solutions and compliant vendors.

Evaluating service providers

It’s important that you select the right service provider for your hybrid cloud backup solution. When evaluating potential providers, consider the following:

  • Reputation and track record: Research the provider's reputation in the industry and their track record of delivering reliable and secure backup services. Customer reviews and case studies can be invaluable in this process.
  • Data center locations: Ensure that the provider's data centers are strategically located to offer redundancy and low-latency access. Geographic diversity can be crucial for disaster recovery by ensuring that even large-scale regional disasters can’t compromise your data.
  • Service level agreements (SLAs): Carefully review the SLAs offered by the provider. Pay attention to guarantees related to uptime, data availability and support response times. Ensure they align with your RTO and RPO.
  • Support and customer service: Assess the level of support and customer service provided. Prompt and knowledgeable support can make a significant difference in your overall experience with the technology.

Compatibility and integration

Compatibility and integration are vital to the successful deployment of a hybrid cloud backup solution:

Integration with existing systems: Ensure that the solution integrates with your existing IT infrastructure, including operating systems, applications and databases. This minimizes disruption during implementation.

Cross-platform compatibility: Consider the compatibility of the solution with different platforms and devices, as you may need to back up data from a variety of systems.

APIs and customization: Look for solutions that offer APIs and customization options to tailor the backup process to your specific needs.

Cost considerations

While cost should not be the sole determinant when it comes to protecting your data, it is an essential factor to consider:

Total cost of ownership (TCO): Evaluate the TCO, which includes not only subscription or licensing fees, but also hardware, storage and operational costs. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the long-term financial implications, including future hardware upgrade requirements for appliances that go out of support.

Scalability costs: Understand how costs will scale as your data volume and backup requirements grow. Some providers may offer cost-effective tiered pricing models.

Hidden costs: Be aware of any hidden costs, such as data egress fees or additional charges for certain features. A transparent pricing structure is essential.

By carefully assessing your data backup requirements, evaluating service providers, considering compatibility and integration, and factoring in cost considerations, you can make an informed decision when choosing the best hybrid cloud backup solution for your SMB.

Implementing hybrid cloud backup

Once you've chosen a hybrid cloud backup solution that’s tailored to your organization's needs, the next step is its successful implementation. In this section, we will walk you through the process of implementing hybrid cloud backup, breaking it down into key stages and important considerations.

Data classification and prioritization

The initial phase of implementing hybrid cloud backup involves classifying and prioritizing your data. Here's how to go about it:

Data classification: Categorize your data based on importance. Not all data is equal, and this classification will help determine the level of protection and storage it requires.

Data sensitivity: Identify sensitive data that may require enhanced security measures, encryption or special access controls. Refer to any applicable compliance requirements when making these determinations.

Data lifecycle: Understand the data lifecycle within your operation. This includes data creation, usage and archiving. Classifying data based on its stage in the lifecycle is a good way to optimize storage and access.

Planning the backup strategy

A solid backup strategy is essential for the efficient operation of hybrid cloud backup:

Backup frequency: Define how frequently data should be backed up. This decision should align with your RPOs.

Backup retention policy: Determine how long backup copies should be retained. This decision should align with your business needs and compliance requirements.

Versioning: Decide whether versioning is required for files, enabling you to restore data to different points in time.

Setting up backup infrastructure

The infrastructure setup phase is where the hybrid cloud backup solution is configured:

 Local backup servers or appliances: Install and configure the hardware or software components needed for on-premises backups.

Cloud integration: Set up the connection to your chosen cloud storage provider. Configure the backup solution to replicate and synchronize data with cloud-based data centers in accordance with the previous steps.

Authentication and access control: Establish user authentication and access control mechanisms. Ensure that only authorized personnel can access and manage the backup data, and follow the principle of least privilege when determining who to authorize.

Testing and monitoring

Regular testing and monitoring are essential to ensure the effectiveness and reliability of your backup solution:

Testing data recovery: Periodically test the recovery process to ensure that data can be successfully restored. This testing helps identify and rectify any issues before they can impact your business.

Monitoring data changes: Implement continuous monitoring of data changes and backup processes to ensure backups remain up to date and in sync with your data.

Alerts and notifications: Set up alerts and notifications to inform you of any errors or issues in the backup process. Responding quickly to such alerts can prevent data loss.

Performance optimization: Regularly assess the performance of your backup solution and make adjustments as required. This may include modifying backup schedules or expanding storage capacity where needed.

By following a well-structured implementation process, you can ensure that your hybrid cloud backup solution is not only in place but also configured to meet your SMB's unique needs. Effective implementation, combined with ongoing testing and monitoring, will result in a robust data backup strategy that delivers complete peace of mind.

Hybrid cloud backup best practices

Hybrid cloud backups offer an effective path to data protection, but to ensure their success, it's essential to follow best practices. In this section, we will explore key best practices that you should consider when deploying hybrid cloud backup solutions.

Regular backup schedule

Best practice: Establish and document a consistent backup schedule that aligns with your organization's needs and data backup requirements.

Regular backups are essential for maintaining data integrity and minimizing data loss in the event of an incident. To implement this best practice:

Create a backup schedule that accommodates the frequency of data changes and aligns with your RPOs.

Conduct backups during off-peak hours to minimize disruption to regular business operations.

Monitor the backup schedule to ensure it remains up to date and relevant as your IT landscape changes.

Data compression and deduplication

Best practice: Employ data compression and deduplication techniques to optimize data storage and reduce the impact on network bandwidth.

Data compression and deduplication play a vital role in making efficient use of storage resources and network bandwidth. To implement this best practice:

Configure your backup solution to compress data before it's sent to the cloud, reducing the volume of data transmitted.

Implement deduplication to identify and eliminate redundant data, further reducing the amount of data transferred and resulting storage requirements.

Regularly monitor and optimize compression and deduplication settings to ensure they align with your business’ data profile.

Compressing data requires additional processing time, so there's often a trade-off between storage savings and backup performance. In some cases, it might be more important to prioritize speed over compression.

Disaster recovery planning

Best practice: Make disaster recovery planning part of your hybrid cloud backup strategy to ensure business continuity in the face of unforeseen events.

Disaster recovery planning is essential for minimizing downtime and data loss during unexpected disasters or outages. To implement this best practice:

Develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that outlines the steps to follow in case of data loss or system failures. Assign roles and accountability where necessary.

Regularly test the disaster recovery plan to verify its effectiveness and make necessary adjustments.

Ensure that your hybrid cloud backup solution includes redundancy and geographically diverse data centers to enhance disaster recovery capabilities.

Employee training and awareness

Best practice: Provide training and raise awareness among employees regarding the importance of data security and proper backup practices.

Each employee plays an important role in data security and backup processes. To implement this best practice:

Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about data security best practices, including data backup procedures.

Encourage employees to report any suspicious activities or data loss promptly.

Foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness and emphasize the importance of adhering to backup policies as part of a good data protection and security posture.

Overcoming challenges in hybrid cloud backup

While hybrid cloud backup offers a powerful data protection solution, it comes with its own set of challenges. In this section, we will explore these challenges and provide strategies for overcoming them to ensure a seamless and secure backup process.

Bandwidth limitations

Bandwidth limitations can become a significant hurdle to implementing hybrid cloud backups. A constrained network environment can impede the efficient transfer of data to the cloud, leading to slow backups and potential disruptions to regular operations. To tackle this issue, several solutions can be considered.

First, an incremental backup configuration will reduce the impact on bandwidth. By only uploading new or changed data, the volume of data transferred over a network is reduced, making the backup process more efficient and lowering the impact of bandwidth bottlenecks. Additionally, scheduling backups during off-peak hours is a simple way to avoid network congestion, ensuring that backup processes can make the best use of available bandwidth resources.

Data transfer speeds

Data transfer speeds between on-premises systems and cloud resources can vary, impacting the speed of backups and recoveries. To address this issue, there are several strategies for optimizing data transfer speeds that you can turn to.

Leveraging data compression and deduplication techniques can prove highly effective in reducing the volume of data transferred, leading to a significant acceleration of the backup process. It’s also wise to optimize data storage by using high-performance storage solutions on both ends of the transfer. This ensures that data moves between locations at optimal speeds.

For further enhancement, technologies like WAN optimization can be leveraged to improve data transfer speeds and reduce latency.

Security concerns

The act of transferring data to the cloud introduces potential vulnerabilities, making the safeguarding of data from cyberthreats absolutely crucial. It’s imperative that data is meticulously encrypted both in transit and while at rest. Employing robust encryption algorithms and implementing secure key management practices will go a long way toward protecting your data.

Additionally, access control must be in place. This includes the establishment of role-based access (adhering to least-privilege policy) and the integration of multifactor authentication.

To maintain the highest standards of security, conduct regular auditing and monitoring. These measures are indispensable for scrutinizing and tracking access to backup data, facilitating the early detection of any suspicious activity or potential security breaches.

Compliance and regulatory requirements

Meeting compliance and regulatory requirements, whether they pertain to GDPR, HIPAA or industry-specific standards, can present a challenge when implementing hybrid cloud backup solutions.

To begin navigating this challenge, data should be meticulously classified to differentiate sensitive information subject to compliance regulations from nonsensitive data. This distinction is fundamental to ensuring that enhanced security measures are applied to the right data. Also, establish and enforce data retention policies that align with compliance requirements.

You should ensure that your chosen backup solutions can automatically enforce these policies, maintaining data integrity and regulatory compliance. Furthermore, to facilitate compliance tracking and documentation during audits, logging and reporting features should be configured within the backup solution. This proactive approach to auditing and reporting is pivotal for documenting and monitoring compliance-related activities.

Successfully overcoming these challenges in hybrid cloud backup requires a combination of technical solutions, careful planning and adherence to best practices. By addressing these issues proactively, your business can reap the benefits of hybrid cloud backup while ensuring data security and regulatory compliance.

Future trends in hybrid cloud backup

As technology continues to evolve, the landscape of hybrid cloud backup is poised to undergo transformative changes. In this section, we explore future trends and technologies that are likely to shape the direction of hybrid cloud backup in the coming years.

AI and machine learning integration

Trend: The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies into hybrid cloud backup solutions will create more intelligent and efficient data protection processes.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms each bring a multitude of benefits to the table. For example, AI and ML can predict data usage patterns and dynamically adjust backup schedules to optimize the allocation of resources. By doing so, organizations can make better use of storage and network capacity, ensuring data backup occurs when it is most beneficial.

In addition, these technologies possess the capability to automatically identify and tier data, guaranteeing that sensitive information receives heightened protection. This sophisticated approach to data management results in enhanced data security with less manual interaction.

AI also plays a pivotal role in data deduplication and compression processes. This tech excels at identifying and eliminating redundant data with a higher degree of precision, reducing data transfer volumes and storage requirements.

Perhaps most importantly, these technologies already prove invaluable in enhancing data recovery operations by predicting potential issues and offering quicker recovery options. This predictive capability is instrumental in minimizing downtime and ensuring data availability during data recovery.

Edge computing and hybrid cloud backup

Trend: The growing prevalence of edge computing will lead to increased reliance on hybrid cloud backup solutions, with data processed and stored closer to the point of origin.

Edge computing represents a transformative paradigm shift in data processing, with data being analyzed and processed closer to its source, rather than relying solely on centralized data centers.

This evolution brings forth a fresh set of challenges and opportunities for data protection. In this context, hybrid cloud backup solutions must adapt to effectively cater to the demands of this emerging trend. Key adaptations include the support of edge devices and seamless integration with distributed data centers, ensuring that data is consistently protected and accessible, even within decentralized edge environments.

Advancements in data encryption

Trend: Advancements in encryption technologies will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring the security and privacy of data stored in hybrid cloud backup environments.

The call for stronger encryption methods remains steadfast as threats continue to emerge and grow in complexity. Future trends in data encryption for hybrid cloud backup are evolving to meet these challenges.

One of these evolutionary steps is the development of quantum-resistant encryption, where significant research and development efforts are dedicated to creating encryption techniques that can withstand attacks by quantum computers. This forward-looking approach ensures that data remains secure, even in the face of the computing power of quantum-based threats.

Another noteworthy trend is the emergence of homomorphic encryption. This innovative encryption method allows computations to be performed on secure data without the need to decrypt it first. Homomorphic encryption will soon facilitate data-driven insights without compromising the confidentiality of the underlying information.

Other new innovations aim to simplify the management of encryption keys, ensuring that they remain consistently secure and readily accessible when needed. Effective key management is an essential component of secure data management, and these advancements will streamline the process, enhancing overall data security in many environments — including hybrid cloud backup solutions.

Lets sum up everything

Robust backups are not merely an option but a necessity in today's data-driven world. Hybrid cloud backup provides the fortification needed to address this necessity while meeting the cost and implementation needs of SMBs and enterprises alike. Its scalability, cost efficiency and adaptability make it a compelling choice for nearly any user, with a forecasted global hybrid cloud market value exceeding $138 billion by 2027.

An investment in hybrid cloud backup represents an investment in the future, safeguarding data integrity, privacy and availability in a digital landscape where information is the lifeblood of a business. By embracing the principles, strategies and trends discussed in this article, organizations can navigate the complexities of data protection and emerge with a resilient and secure data landscape for years to come.

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.