Skip to main content

Challenges in backing up 100,000+ endpoints in the cloud - Part 1

It is a non-trivial task for large enterprises to provide loss prevention for data stored on endpoints.

When laptops, desktops and mobile devices need replacements, get stolen or go out of order, the digital assets on them need to be retrieved in a predictable manner. With cloud storage becoming affordable and reliable, many CIOs have adopted cloud backup for endpoints. But, adoption of the cloud for storage has introduced additional challenges.

The requirements can be many. Some of them are just related to usage and deployment of endpoints. The rest are related to the fact that the cloud is being used as a storage platform in today’s world. Let’s look at the key requirements related to the endpoints in this part:

  1. Scalable architecture of the backup solution to support 100,000+ users. In order to handle so many geographically spread users, the critical components need to scale. The backup management systems, storage gateways and the database engines should be able to scale horizontally to handle more loads as they come, without losing the central management ability.
  2. Authentication of the endpoints and the users for backup and restore is extremely critical. No enterprise would want unwanted devices to have access to the backup data.
  3. Scheduling the backup for each end point. This is tricky, as endpoints are not always on.
  4. Geographical spread of the endpoints. The backup servers must be accessible from different parts of the world.
  5. Installing the agents on endpoints. Many endpoint users may not install the agent from a given hyperlink. Asset Management of endpoints in many large enterprises is still a challenge. Installing the agent using SCCM or group policy may not still assure 100 per cent coverage.
  6. Selection of the backup set. The files and file types to be backed up from each endpoint may be different. Organizations may have to define a set of file types to be backed up from each endpoint. The users may not want to back up their personal files on the enterprise backup system. System files should be excluded from the set.
  7. Support for mobility. The access for backup and restore will have to be provided from within and outside corporate network.
  8. Shut down and restart of the endpoints at will. This is a very prevalent characteristic of the endpoints. In this context, restart of backups and restores become tricky.
  9. Interference of backup on endpoint load. The users would not like to experience any slowness during the backup.
  10. Data Processing on the endpoints – compression, increments and encryption. A careful decision needs to be made on what should be offloaded to the backup servers. This is to ensure minimal load on the endpoints.
  11. Degree of decision making at the endpoints. Too many interactions with the backup servers will introduce latency in the backup process. Hence, local decisions which can be taken at the endpoints should be taken.
  12. Interference from the user in the backup process. The users may want to exclude certain files or folders. They may not want the backup to run. The enterprises must find a way to enforce what is must for the business irrespective of the user’s preferences.
  13. Flexibility provided to the user. It is not often easy for a backup system to provide the desired visibility. However, users would like to see which files are backed up, how many versions of each file are backed up and they would like to restore a single file a group of files in real time.
  14. User Management. Adding new users and deleting users who have left the organization is a challenging task for a large enterprise which is geographically spread.
  15. BYOD - The backup system must provide all the possible types of mobile devices, which will be connected to the corporate network.

Can all these requirements be met by a single solution? What challenges should an enterprise be prepared for? Are there completely new challenges or requirements that the cloud paradigm will present? What would be the key expectations of an enterprise from a secure cloud backup solution? I will address these questions in my next blog. Until then, feel free to share your views and comments.

Ananda Rao Ladi, Executive Vice President-Engineering and Support, ParaBlu