Cloud Backup vs. In-House: 3 Points to Consider
“Cloud Storage versus In-House” is a perennial debate, and Leviathan Security recently released a series of reports that shed some interesting light on the tradeoffs between the two – particularly the Vulnerability report.
While the report is focused on data storage in general, its findings offer significant insights on the security and cost concerns surrounding online and in-house (i.e. physical) backup.
1. Backup Security: Everyone’s Major Concern
When you ask why someone chose a particular form of backup – regardless of which form it is – the answer you get will almost invariably involve security. Leviathan’s take on what it actually means to stay secure in the current era is both enlightening and unsettling:
“Security is often compared to an arms race—a constant grind of building the newer, the better, and the more effective. This comparison is inaccurate… Modern methodologies allow attackers continuously to probe the trust boundaries of any organization, which means that rather than waiting for an overwhelming advantage, an adversary will exploit any temporary lapse. Temporary lapses are, however, inevitable in almost any organization.”
For this reason, Leviathan notes that storing data in-house is a significant undertaking, requiring an investment in the people and training to engage in what the report calls a “continuous, growing, and tireless” defense. In addition to the financial resources required (more on that later), the report points out the risk of losing expertise when critical employees leave.
With cloud backups, on the other hand, this concern is handled by a vendor whose business specializes in these very things. Like any vendor situation, due diligence and partnership between the backup provider and the company’s internal IT team is key to ensuring the security of data in the cloud.
2. The Cost of Keeping It Running
Companies who build their own storage infrastructure are able to customize it in any way they choose, and can ensure the solution is tailored exactly to their needs. However, they also shoulder the direct costs associated with hardware and security monitoring, maintenance, prevention tools, and the previously mentioned staff specialists. This gets expensive quickly, and Leviathan notes that it’s a more viable approach for bigger companies.
Cloud services, on the other hand, offer the usual benefit of outsourcing – all of that becomes someone else’s problem. With the online backup approach, the cost shifts to the service subscription fee. Depending on the service provider, access to specialists (i.e. support) may be an additional cost as well. We include 24/7 support in our base price, but support policies/pricing vary from vendor to vendor, so companies should always ask when researching a cloud provider.
3. The Growth Factor
Companies who choose to go the in-house route – whether for storage, backup or both – have to remember that as their data grows, their in-house system will eventually need to be upgraded to accommodate a larger dataset. If data growth is steady and predictable, the company can build around their projected needs. If the organization is experiencing rapid or unanticipated data growth, however, then higher-capability infrastructure may be required much sooner or more frequently than originally planned.
Scalability tends to favor cloud storage. As organizations’ storage (and thus backup) needs grow, it’s often easier and more economical to increase monthly costs rather than taking on the headaches and expenses associated with a major local infrastructure upgrade. This is especially true in the case of sudden data expansion (Leviathan specifically gives the example of an acquisition).
The Bottom Line (And Other Considerations)
In its closing, the report cautions that price should not be the sole factor to consider when deciding between different backup and storage solutions; projected expansion rates, technical requirements, the willingness to spend capital, and an ability to recruit and train technical and security talent are equally, if not more important, when comparing cloud and on-site storage options.
The same is applies to backup – price is obviously very important, but companies would be wise to consider a wide range of factors before making their choice.