How to backup cloud servers? Find it out here
This is how to do it
Since cloud computing became popular, backing up a server has ceased to be a two-stage analog process to become a complex series of steps executed by software specialized in cloud servers back up.
But what are the main differences between supporting a physical server and a virtual one? In this article, we will cover this topic together with a review about the vendors that offer applications to perform an effective backup of your virtual server.
Physical server vs cloud server backup
If you are not familiar with virtual servers backups, this process may seem complex at first glance, but the truth is that thanks to the constant development of specialized applications in backups, a cloud server backup has become faster and efficient than the backup of a physical server. Let's make a comparison between both types of backups to have a clear idea of their differences.
Although there are several ways to back up a physical server, the most common method requires a software agent in the client that reads and collects the data that will be backed up. Then, the software uses an IP network to transfer the copy to the backup server.
Subsequently, the same backup server sends the backup to its final destination. It is necessary to mention that each file inside the backup copy is recorded in a database in case it needs to be restored.
From the conceptual point of view, the backup of a virtual server may seem to be similar to the physical server backup method but entails a greater complexity.
If you follow the traditional backup method of a physical server in a virtual one, the problem would be that the backup software could have some problems to identify if the server is physical or virtual.
Then, the backup administrator would not know in which physical machine the virtual machine is located and this could cause it to program multiple backups of the same host machine. This situation would affect the performance of all the virtual machines located in the host.
The solution to this scenario was the creation of snapshots: an instant image of a particular moment of the copy of the disk file of the virtual machine.
A snapshot preserves the file system of the disk as well as the memory of the virtual machine. In case something goes wrong with the backup, the administrator can go back to the saved snapshot and restore.
This method somehow blinds the software agent that executes the backup, since it ignores the data of the virtual machine. Therefore, data that includes deleted files and blank spaces are also saved.
To avoid this unnecessary data backup, data deduplication tools, active block mapping, and white-space detection, have been implemented to identify deleted files and exclude them from backup copies. This has also allowed vendors to develop incremental backups of virtual machine images.
Don't lose your data! Have a 3-2-1 Backup Strategy
There is no perfect method for data protection but the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy is the most effective to reduce the risk of a fatal loss of your data. Strategy 3-2-1 consists of having at least three copies of your data. Copies 1 and 2 should be hosted on local devices, for example, your computer and an external hard drive.
Copy 3 must be protected offsite, for instance, an online backup solution. An online backup scans your data continuously to keep it updated and saved in a data center. In this case, it is necessary that you check your updates regularly to be sure that the most recent files are saved online.
It is also recommended that copy 2 (located on the external hard drive) is kept in a different location. Why? Imagine an unfortunate fire in the office where your computer and external hard drive are located. In this case, you would lose your copies 1 and 2 in the same incident.
Cloud server backup services
Do you need to make an effective and secure backup of a cloud server? The first thing you need to have is a reliable backup software.
Of course, there are many options in the market. Before choosing a backup service, you must consider parameters such as the tenant self-service file level restore, tenant self-service on-demand backup, a good web user interface and multitenant self-service backup and recovery, among others.
Here we present a comparison of four vendors whose services are among the most acceptable options in terms of price and quality regarding backup software.
VMcom Backup Appliance is a software specialized in supporting virtualized applications and data running on VMware. In addition to protecting the information of your virtual machines, it also allows you to control access to specific tenants.
Unlike other vendors, one of the great advantages offered by VMcom software is multi-tenancy as a solution in the public cloud. This means that any VMware public cloud provider can grant permissions to selected users to restore and backup specific VMs. Another advantage of VMcom is that it offers a tenant self-service file level restore for both Windows and Linux and the client don't need to pay for additional licensing.
In this way, restoring and backup can be done by the users themselves through an excellent web user interface accessible in any of the VMcom packages.
VMcom software can be purchased in two very flexible payment modes: a single payment for a perpetual license based on CPU socket, and a monthly payment license based on VM.
Veeam is another backup option in the cloud, like VMcom its services include agentless backup of VMware VMs, rapid initial deployment, changed block tracking support, built-in deduplication, and compression. The strength of Veeam is its so-called Hyper-Availability for all possible workloads: virtual, physical and cloud.
However, it does not offer per-tenant storage quotas, tenant self-service backup plan management, and tenant self-service on-demand backup. Although it offers tenant self-service file level restore, it is only available for Windows and the user must pay for Microsoft licenses. The web user interface is limited only to the Enterprise version as well as the multitenant self-service backup and recovery.
Among the features offered by Nakivo are VM backup, replication, cloud backup, global deduplication, instant VM recovery and objects, backup and capture verification. Other strengths are its user-friendly web interface, it does not require additional Microsoft licenses and it has a rapid initial deployment based on an OVF template.
However, like Veeam, it lacks the main multi-tenant features, especially the multi-tenant self-service backup and recovery and the tenant self-service file level restore.
Together with VMcom, perhaps Acronis VE is one of the most balanced backup software in terms of services and features. It also has a multitenant self-service backup and recovery and covers services such as tenant storage quotas, self-service backup plan management and changed block tracking support.
The cons of Acronis VE are that it does not have a rapid initial deployment and requires multiple Windows VMs. In addition, its users need additional Microsoft licenses and its web user interface has quite limited functionality. In addition, the user needs to pay an extra cost for the built-in deduplication and compression service.
Acronis, Nakivo, Vea and VMcom, all of them have strengths and weaknesses. However, VMcom Backup Appliance is highly multitenant, which gives the central administrator the ability to create environments within a single appliance.
Also, each tenant can be assigned specific privileges to back up and recover vSphere objects and storage data. In addition, the cost-benefit offered by VMcom is the most acceptable compared to the rest of the vendors. Make your choice!