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Backup Strategy

Backup Evolution: Traditional vs Modern Backup

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The backup evolution we’ve seen over the years has taken data backups from tapes, software, and media gateways to streamlined cloud-based solutions. Protecting data from getting corrupted or lost has long been a top backup strategy priority for organizations, and selecting the right backup tools is an important part of this process.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at how backup has evolved over time and how NetApp Cloud Backup can help organizations meet their modern-day cloud backup needs.

Some of the topics we’ll cover here include:

The Backup Evolution from Traditional to Modern

As technology evolves, backup strategies and tools have undergone drastic changes. The backup solutions we use today are very different from the ones we used a decade ago. Let’s explore some of the fundamental constructs of traditional and modern backup solutions.

Traditional Backup 

Traditional backup usually consists of multiple moving parts and components: backup software, tape drives, media gateways, catalog appliances, and replication engines, to name a few. As a result, backup solutions were rather complicated and heavyweight. There were a lot of dependencies to manage in order to protect data.

The traditional backup solutions were singularly focused on one purpose: backup and restore. It wasn’t easy to extend the solution to additional related requirements, such as DR or analytics. Due to the multiple components involved, the risk of human error creeping into the process was higher. The possibility of component failure was also increased, for example, a backup stored on magnetic tapes could readily become corrupted, rendering the data useless.

Though it accomplished the task of data protection, traditional backup was a pricey insurance policy to acquire and maintain, especially for a longer period of time.

Modern Backup 

With cloud computing in the driver's seat, backup solutions have undergone a long-overdue overhaul. Businesses are increasingly turning to cloud services for mission-critical applications and current backup systems provide native interaction with these services. Modern backup solutions are lightweight and often SaaS-based and managed, meaning there aren’t multiple backup components to manage.

Pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) is another advantage of cloud-based backup solutions. There’s no upfront investment in costly backup hardware and software. Backup tapes can be easily replaced by cloud object storage, which provides cost-effective backup and archive storage.  Software licensing for SaaS-based backup solutions can also be purchased as PAYGO.

For a cloud-based modern backup solution, all you need is an internet connection for point-in-time restoration of data. The process is extremely low-risk, agile, and cost-effective. The backup data stored in the cloud can also be used to leverage additional value-added services from the cloud, such as running big data analytics, establishing data governance, visualization, and DR.

While modern backup services serve the main purpose of protecting data, it also helps organizations achieve a better return on investment. Organizations can achieve all of their backup requirements and align the 3-2-1 backup strategy where cloud object storage acts as the offsite backup option.

NetApp Cloud Backup’s Capabilities Meet Modern Backup Characteristics

NetApp Cloud Backup is a modern backup solution trusted by organizations to protect their mission-critical data stored on-premises and in the cloud. It provides a seamless backup and restore solution for data stored in ONTAP clusters as well as in the cloud in Cloud Volumes ONTAP. NetApp Cloud Backup has all of the capabilities you'd expect from a modern backup service. Let’s explore them in more detail.

Native Integration

NetApp Cloud Backup is a native backup service from NetApp for ONTAP storage systems. It is available as a completely managed backup SaaS solution. Customers are not required to purchase or install specialized tools or hardware to benefit from it. Faster backup as well as search and restore capabilities are delivered using a built-in cloud-native indexed catalog. It also comes with built-in support for cloud object storage as the backup destination. The cloud storage SLAs (typically nine 11s) offered directly by the cloud service provider ensure the reliability of backup data.


NetApp Cloud Backup doesn’t have any complicated or chunky components to manage. Since it’s a managed service, there’s no underlying infrastructure that needs to be updated, monitored, or maintained on a regular basis. This eliminates the management overhead typically associated with traditional backup solutions.

The service maintains the native ONTAP efficiencies that have been trusted by hundreds of businesses for decades. Powered by ONTAP, the service can provide reliable backups and fast and fine-grained restore for your data. You can choose to restore entire volumes or single data files directly from the cloud manager console.


NetApp Cloud Backup uses a block-level incremental forever approach for data backup that uses NetApp SnapShot technology in the backend. This drastically reduces the backup data size as well as the bandwidth required for the backup by up to 97%.

Since the solution uses low-cost cloud object storage, the overall spend on backup media is also reduced. NetApp Cloud Backup also supports the cheapest archival tiers of cloud storage that can further bring down costs, especially when data needs to be stored for a longer duration for audit and compliance purposes. It uses a front-end pricing model that meters the used capacity on the source volumes. NetApp Cloud Backup uses capacity-based PAYGO or BYOL licenses where customers are required to pay only for the data that is being protected by the service.


NetApp Cloud Backup doesn’t restrict its usage to only specific environments. Organizations with hybrid and multi-cloud architectures can use the service to protect data across these heterogeneous environments. This eliminates the overhead of hopping between different backup tools for different data sources as NetApp Cloud Backup provides single-pane management capabilities directly from the cloud manager. Because of this, you can also use additional services like Cloud Data Sense for further analysis, governance, and visualization of the backup data.

Low Risk

NetApp Cloud Backup provides single-hop backup where the backup data is stored directly in object storage. There are no middleman technologies or staging media used that could impact efficiency and security. The efficient backup process can backup volumes and files, even open files including metadata and ACL. The data is stored separately from ONTAP clusters, offering an air-gapped off-site backup.

The immutable read-only snapshot-based backup approach used by NetApp Cloud Backup can protect data from malicious malware attacks. It also speeds up the data recovery process with point-in-time restore of data to a healthy state. At rest, the data is protected using AES-256 bit encryption, and while in flight, it’s encrypted with TLS/HTTPS. Furthermore, backup data is stored in an environment completely controlled by the customer. Native cloud role-based access restrictions and MFA techniques can be used to improve control plane security.


In today's IT landscape, an effective backup solution that’s properly linked with the cloud ecosystem is a must-have. NetApp Cloud Backup combines the capabilities of a modern backup solution with the reliability of NetApp and cloud object storage technology. As a backup method,  NetApp Cloud Backup has a distinct advantage over traditional methods thanks to its native integration, lower costs, decreased risk, and lightweight components.

Sign up for a free trial or book an on-demand group demo to see how NetApp Cloud Backup works in action.

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Semion Mazor, Product Evangelist

Product Evangelist