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Cloud Backup Services

What Is Backup as a Service (BaaS) and 6 Key Capabilities

Backup as a service (BaaS) is a managed cloud backup service that allows an organization to outsource its backup activity to a cloud provider or third-party backup provider. Traditionally, organizations performed backups on-premises and managed the infrastructure themselves. BaaS connects on-premises systems to cloud backup storage managed by an external provider.

When using a BaaS provider, in-house administrators do not need to rotate and manage tapes or hard disks. They can pass over management and maintenance of backups to the BaaS provider.

Here are key reasons for using a BaaS service:

  • The organization has outgrown its legacy storage backup and would need to undergo a costly upgrade.
  • The organization lacks appropriate on-premises backup resources, seeks to avoid the capital investment of purchasing a new backup system, and prefers to switch to an operational expense model.
  • An organizational decision to move services to third party service providers or cloud platforms.

Outsourcing backup and recovery to a provider also means that your data remains restorable or accessible from a remote location if you experience an outage or failure.

In this article:

BaaS Pros and Cons

Pros

Here are three key advantages of a BaaS service:

Ease of management
In contrast to on-premises data backup solutions, a key advantage of backup as a service is the simplicity of management. You don’t need to rotate storage devices, perform integrity checks and deduplication, or manually move data to off-site locations, as the BaaS provider manages everything.

Cost-effectiveness
The BaaS provider will offer their services at a fixed monthly cost. Organizations only pay for the storage space and services they currently need. In addition, BaaS can save organizations the expense of purchasing backup hardware, maintaining it, and replacing it when its useful life ends.

Related content: Read our guide to cloud backup cost

Security and compliance
Most BaaS providers are careful to ensure they comply with regulations and have strong security measures in place. You can ask to see your BaaS provider’s compliance certifications and details about their security procedures. This can make it easier to pass compliance audits.

Cons

Here are two reasons why a BaaS solution may not be suitable:

Strict regulatory requirements
Certain organizations and businesses will find it difficult to take advantage of cloud backup services because they have specific legal obligations—for example, to store data in a specific location. If the BaaS vendor cannot meet the organization's compliance obligations, it is not a relevant option.

Additional bandwidth requirements
Backing up data in the cloud presents additional bandwidth requirements. It is imperative to prepare upfront to ensure that regular backups won’t impact Internet connectivity or other network activities in office locations.

How BaaS Works

With BaaS, instead of setting up on-premises hardware and software to perform backups, you connect local applications to a backup application in the cloud. Depending on the level of service of your provider, backups could run continuously in the background or at set intervals. Data is transmitted over a secure network connection to cloud servers. You can backup individual files, as well as images or virtual machines that allow you to restore entire systems.

Most BaaS providers rely on major cloud providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google for distributed cloud storage, data processing, and application services. On the front-end, the BaaS provider will offer a user-friendly dashboard to let you manage your data in the cloud.

BaaS is delivered on a subscription basis, billed either monthly or yearly. Pricing will typically depend on:

  • Bandwidth for data transfer
  • Storage space and volume of data to back up
  • Frequency of backups
  • Number of copies per dataset
  • Retention period
  • How often the data is accessed

Organizations of all sizes use cloud backups. For the enterprise, cloud backup will typically be supplemental to an on-premises mode of backup, but for many small to medium businesses (SMBs), managed cloud backup is the only backup solution because many SMBs don’t have the resources to manage backup systems in-house. By outsourcing to a BaaS provider, SMBs can focus on their core competencies and avoid the effort of managing backups.

Related content: Read our guide to cloud backup services

Key Capabilities of a BaaS Provider

Here are a few key features you should look for in a BaaS provider.

1. Security

Since the data is stored on the BaaS provider's servers, the security methods deployed by the BaaS provider must be first-class. Understand the security measures practiced by the data center where your data is stored. BaaS providers should also be able to implement advanced security features such as data encryption and dedicated secure connections.

2. Recovery and Availability SLA (RTO/RPO)

BaaS providers must have service level agreements (SLAs) with clearly defined recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). In addition, the provider may provide SLA for the availability and durability of your data over time.

3. Customized Services

Your business requirements will inevitably change over time. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the service flexibility of the BaaS provider. For example, evaluate if the BaaS provider is able to change the frequency of backups, scale up or down, and extend the retention period as needed.

4. Disaster Recovery

BaaS is intended to protect your data, but the service must be prepared for a disaster that affects its own data center. BaaS providers must deploy disaster recovery plans, such as storing data in multiple geographically dispersed data centers. A common way to achieve this is using multiple availability zones (AZs) of a public cloud provider. This way, even if the data center storing your data experiences an incident, your data will be safe.

5. User Authentication

BaaS should provide secure user authentication as part of its service offering. Authentication is a critical part of security, and strong authentication is essential to avoiding unauthorized access to your sensitive data. If you need to comply with standards or regulations, keep in mind that backup systems are a focus of security audits.

6. GDPR or Other Compliance Standards

If your organization’s systems store personal data belonging to European citizens, you need to comply with the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR). Your organization may be subject to other standards or regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, or CCPA. In this case, select a BaaS provider that complies with the relevant regulations and perform due diligence to ensure that your use of the service does not violate your compliance obligations.

Related content: Read our blog about Meeting Data Compliance with a Wave of New Privacy Regulations

Backup as a Service with NetApp Cloud Backup

NetApp understands ONTAP better than anyone else, which is why the best backup solution for ONTAP systems is NetApp Cloud Backup. Designed by NetApp specifically for ONTAP, Cloud Backup automatically creates block-level incremental forever backups. These copies are stored in object format and preserve all ONTAP’s storage efficiencies. Your backups are 100X faster to create, easy to restore, and much more reliable than with any other solution.

Cloud Backup simplifies the entire backup process. It’s intuitive, quick to deploy, and managed from the same console as the rest of the NetApp cloud ecosystem. Whether you’re looking for a less expensive way to store your backups, a faster, more capable technology than NDMP, or an easy way to enable a 3-2-1 strategy, Cloud Backup offers the best backup solution for ONTAP.

Learn more about NetApp Native Backup in the Cloud, Designed for ONTAP, and find out more in our Cloud Backup Service Customers’ Case Studies.

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Semion Mazor, Product Marketing Manager

Product Marketing Manager