Backup as a Service or BaaS

Backup and Recovery as a Service (Backup as a Service) is a category of service that replicates data to multiple IT systems and datacenters with the purpose of recovery should the primary data be lost or becomes corrupt. Backup and recovery of servers, applications, and data is nothing new to a datacenter or IT department. In a cloud environment, there are changes in the backup/recovery hardware and processes that are needed to backup and protect a cloud environment.


Figure: Typical online backup service architecture


BaaS is often sold and configured in two variations described (in both variations, the underlying service is usually object-based cloud storage; however, public cloud providers charge less for these backup services as the data is normally written once, seldom accessed/read, and stored on slow relatively disk media):

Upgraded backup and restore options

IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS applications normally include some default level of backup and restore capability and SLA defined by the cloud provider. Customers who need more data retention or faster recovery options might want to order upgrades to the base level of IaaS/PaaS backup.

Depending on the service offering, platforms, or software applications, these backup and recovery options can vary widely. For example, a normal backup of a PaaS system might be performed daily by the cloud provider; however, a customer might want to have database snapshots performed every four hours. This way, during a restoration request, the data is more up to date (this is referred to as recovery point objective or RPO). There might also be a need for daily mailbox backups of the email system, rather than the entire database. This accommodates more granular restoration of data, but the cloud provider might charge more for this level of backup.

Depending on your need, it is important to consider the cost for X years of data retention, whether the data is stored offsite from the primary datacenter(s), and how long it will take for the cloud provider to actually restore the data upon your request (this is referred to as recovery time objective or RTO). Most modern cloud providers and datacenters are moving away from tape- based backup systems, opting instead to use SANs (or equivalent NAS, object, or storage network systems), snapshot techniques, de-duplication, and disk-based backup hardware to improve the RTO.

Online backup and archiving

This variation of Backup as a Service is unique in that the source data is usually located at an existing or legacy customer datacenter. Backup software agents or a backup hardware appliance device would be installed at each legacy enterprise datacenter. All backup software agents within the datacenter are usually already in place, but the target tape or disk system for backups is shifted to the new backup hardware appliance.

This local backup appliance holds the initial backup data and then automatically replicates it to the cloud provider’s datacenter(s) over the Internet or another WAN circuit. This means that the data is backed up both locally at the original datacenter and offsite for maximum protection. The local backup appliance is usually only large enough to hold the most recent one to four weeks’ worth of data. The cloud provider hosts a massive amount of storage capacity and can retain all of the backup data for many years, depending on the customer’s needs.

The online backup service is both very cost effective compared to a legacy datacenter maintaining large tape drive libraries and sending tapes offsite regularly. This online backup offering is also ideal for migrating data from a legacy datacenter to a new cloud provider.