A couple weeks ago, I delved into the challenges of trying to use the cloud to replace tape for traditional on-premises backup. Although cloud backup can replace tape for small businesses or larger IT departments without long-term retention requirements, enterprises will rarely be able to consider cloud backup as a tape replacement.
When you do the math, it's pretty clear why: A typical enterprise that tries to replace its tape backup systems with cloud storage will either fail to find the connectivity it needs or end up paying substantially more money in the long run as cloud-hosted archival backups and backup-related connectivity fees pile up.
However, simply because the cloud isn't quite ready to replace tape for all time doesn't mean it can't still play an important role in protecting an enterprise's data. Seeing what role cloud backup can play involves putting together a short list of what cloud storage does and doesn't do well. Here, I cover what Amazon.com S3 and Glacier services can do, but much also applies to other cloud storage providers. Don't assume Amazon is the right vendor for you, but it helps to have a clear example.
Reliability: A plus for the cloud
It might seem strange to lead with reliability when talking about the cloud. You're more likely to hear horror stories about cloud service reliability around outages and lost data.
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