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Sometimes I wonder why should there be a difference in the academic world and the practical world. The scientific world prefers the “why”, the practical world prefers the “how”. Yet they are related. My tryst with writing an academic report for TU Delft continues, but I have kept myself occupied with several interesting activities since my last bog post. Another certificate of accomplishment – on Competitive Strategy this time. Another incredible Youth Empowerment Seminar workshop with 23 young professionals and students in Haarlem. Interesting interviews and meetings with entrepreneurs and industry veterans. One in particular, was with the founder of a company called BackupAgent in Delft. So I decided to flirt again on a topic I continually keep myself updated with – Cloud Computing. This time around Virtualization and Storage.

Cloud backup

The evolution of backup onto the Cloud

But first we answer two questions – What is Virtualization? What is Cloud Backup?

Virtualization is the creation/simulation of software or hardware on the machine. It’s the reproducing of hardware in software so that hardware can be efficiently used. A single machine can be used to run many servers. Partitioning your hard-disk (for instance your 100GB hard-disk is now split as 20GB in C drive, 50GB in D drive and 30 GB in E drive) or having Windows AND Linux Operating systems on your PC are simple examples. Virtualization masks the physical characteristics of a computing platform from users, instead showing a more abstract view to the users.

Cloud Storage is the storage of data over the internet using the concepts of virtualization. Essentially data from different places are managed from a central hub. This is done using specialized hardware and software. Cloud backup is essentially copying data online. The idea is to store data online rather than locally in a physical drive/form.

Cloud can be public, private or hybrid in it’s most basic forms. If you backup data on the cloud then it could be done in either a public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud. It can be internally or given to a service provider who can manage it for you.

Backing up files online can happen in different intervals and ways. It can happen almost instantly (as is with Dropbox client or SugarSync) or can happen on a scheduled basis.

To Cloud Backup or not – that is the question?

Secure cloud backup

Security and Backup on the Cloud

With the ever increasing concern of security on the cloudencryption is getting more focus. Just the focus on the Cloud is enough to have a serious consequence on the way backup is dealt with. With on-premise, data was in 1 place and an ERP kind of outlook meant fewer applications. With a SaaS kind of mentality – we are going to see HIGH amounts of distributed data. Data integrity and backup becomes even more crucial!

This is far from a dying game. This is just the beginning. The business model for a cloud backup company needs to consider this paradigm. Scalability (size in this context) and connectivity are two big points of consideration. Would very large amounts of data being backed up prove to be an expensive option? How would a CIO look to curb costs? The big advantage of cloud backup is data being ‘secured & available’ anytime and anywhere. That means – there is going to be at least 2 copies of data residing. The original data starts from the company. Data backup 1 comes from the providers of applications (example – the CRM SaaS provider) and Data backup 2 from the managed service provider providing data backup for the company. Where is money going to be made? 😉

The big concern is who would you want to give your data? Would you risk a start-up who can offer tempting price benefits or go for the mature offerings? Microsoft with SkydriveDropboxSugarSync, and Amazon with Simple Storage Service (S3) are just some of the examples with some pretty solid offerings. We haven’t started talking about Rackspace and VMware etc.

Finally as I see it – there is going to be an interesting move on connecting various SaaS applications. If you want a true/authentic cloud experience – Cloud backup providers should have some system integrator capabilities at one level. They should be able to handle various volumes in different places, integrate them and store them without risking hardware problems for instance. What would I do if I had a cloud backup company of my own? In one line – Develop a PaaS strategy.

Sometimes an innocent mistake can cause immense pain and have unintended consequences. As His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishakar said on two different occasions “See a mistake as a mistake. Not his(her) mistake or my mistake”. “When men with high caliber & integrity make a mistake, they would punish themselves much more severely than the laws”. In order to minimize our mistakes we need to increase our awareness and knowledge – and yet if it is genuine and unintentional, let’s forgive, educate and move on 🙂

Until next time!