Cloud Backup Performance Must Meet Your Business Needs
How much bandwidth your site has to the Internet is an easy question to answer.
Many web sites offer connection performance testing, typically including Download and Upload speeds, along with latency (as determined by a simple “ping” test).
Zetta offers a free bandwidth check that lets you measure end-to-end bandwidth between your site and the Zetta data center.
Of course, what really matters in terms of speed isn’t just how fast your Internet connection is, but the end-to-end speed that can be achieved between your site(s) and the backup site. But that is not the end of the story. There are a few more steps and questions to pursue.
Speed, It’s Not Just The Connection
Backup “performance questions” include “Do I have enough bandwidth to meet my backup window and my Recovery Time Objective (RTO)?” And “Does the backup process slow down or interfere with production applications?”
For online backups (and disaster recovery), like any network activity, it’s not just about the bandwidth of the connection — although bandwidth is an important factor. What matters is the effective backup speed— how long does it take to perform a backup or a restore.
Factors influencing this include:
- the bandwidth available between your site(s) and the backup provider, per above
- the amount of data that needs to be transferred
- Capabilities and capacities of interstitial devices such as firewalls
- the network efficiency of the backup software and how “intelligently” your backup software utilizes the network connection Internet connection
How Much Traffic Does Your Backup Generate?
Backup performance is not just about the bandwidth available. It’s important to know how much — or little — traffic your backup process generates — and needs to upload — and typical backup traffic demands throughout the day. This is where backup products and services can differ significantly.
The biggest differences in the amount of traffic that backup solutions generate include:
- Full versus incremental backup
- Scheduled versus continuous backup
- “As-is” versus compressed
Full backup means that the entire file is transferred every time a backup is performed. For large files like email .PSTs, databases, presentations, graphic-heavy documents, audio/multimedia projects, backing up a fresh copy of the entire file can represent a large amount of data. That’s a lot of network traffic (and time and cost) just to back up a relatively few additional email messages.
Incremental backups send only the changes made to a file — which may only be a few blocks out of a multi-megabyte file, or a few megabytes instead of several gigabytes.
Similarly, performing compression on-site may significantly reduce the amount of actual traffic. Think of it as the difference between sending a minivan full of cans of condensed milk instead of a truckload of gallons of ready-to-drink milk.
Using Your Internet Connection Effectively
But backup performance isn’t determined just by bandwidth available versus data to send. Unless you have a dedicated link just for this, a backup process is sharing a site’s Internet connection with other traffic, like email, web requests and responses, file transfers, VoIP/multimedia, and other cloud/SaaS activities. This means that the full bandwidth is unlikely to be available to backup most of the time.
Another important factor is the sophistication of the data transfer functions in the backup software. Zetta, for example, uses a multi-threading technique to optimize data transfers. The ZettaMirror client transfers multiple files at the same time (multiple “threads”) allowing maximimum utilization of the connection. This makes a huge difference in how long it takes to move data, particularly with small files.
Depending on the nature of your data, and how a backup provider works, your current Internet connection may — or may not — be sufficient. So it’s important to determine the answers — and how that might change the overall cost equation in comparing potential backup providers.