Almost everybody has a spare key to their home. They keep it under a flower pot, or on a nail in the garage, or with a friend, or maybe all three. It eases our minds because it gives us access in case something unforeseen happens. But not everything we value is kept somewhere within four walls. We value our digital data, too, and it’s prudent to provide for emergency access to it as well.
That’s how the digital cloud started out. When everyone was using desktop computers, without the internet, all our data was stored in temporary RAM memory, and permanently in hard drives, and that was enough. When the Internet came along and we could use our phones and other portable digital devices to access it, having our data only on our desktop computers wasn’t enough anymore. We needed something else, something more universal and portable.
That’s when the cloud was born. Technically, the cloud is just a ton of servers positioned in different places around the country and the world that provide access to our information no matter where we go. These servers also provide services so that our phones can take advantage of all those features to their greatest potential. Having our data in the cloud gives us extra security, like that house key you gave to your best friend. Now that the cloud has been in common use for almost 20 years, however, we’ve found that it’s good for something else: using the proper tools, it’s good for securely storing your data in case of a disaster.
To understand how the cloud stores your data, it helps to understand how cloud storage is constructed. Aaron Smith, Elder Technology Group’s System Administrator, explains it like this: “Instead of hard drives, like on your PC, the cloud has buckets. This bucket has properties, and these properties tell the bucket who can and can't access it. Your bucket contains all of your files and folders, like databases of, for instance, credit card numbers and payroll information.”
In essence, it’s been operating like an off-site hard drive that has everything your on-site one has and, as it turns out, some it hasn’t. Take your Microsoft 365 email exchange, for instance. The data for that isn’t on your hard drive. It’s in the cloud, but you never even think about that because it works so well. That’s when the cloud masters realized they could use their brainchild for even more.
ETG’s Smith says that “People are not just using the cloud for storage; they’re using it for processing power. Users can buy computer processing and storage in the cloud and they just run a console on their local computer to connect to this much more powerful cloud computer and then their work is all done in the cloud. The computer they're using to do their work on is in the cloud; they're keeping nothing local. It's all up there.” That results in a lot of savings for those who choose to operate that way. They save on the cost of hardware, software, maintenance, and on the personnel needed to support the infrastructure that would be necessary to use that same type of computer on premise. It does bring up another question, however.
Now that so much of what we do is cloud-based, essentially someone else’s problem to maintain, we still need some insurance that the work we do in the cloud will retain its integrity. That’s why companies like Veeam, ETG’s modern data protection partner, provides cloud-to-cloud-based backups. Smith says: “You've got to have a username and password to get to your information in the cloud. Your data protection provider has a different username and password set up in your cloud where they can then back up that data to either on premise storage, to storage on another cloud, or to both. When I send my information to the cloud, it’s more accessible than it would be on premise, but it’s not as secure as it would be if Veeam’s software were backing it up. Having a second copy of your data somewhere else, no matter where it is primarily located, is always more secure. Your data is only as secure as you make it.”
Besides being a systems administrator, Aaron Smith is also a 2022 Veeam certified architect and Veeam certified engineer. He would be happy to answer any of your backup related concerns.
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