Category Archives: Misc.

How to Use Cloud Backup to Customize Your Android Phone

Use Online Backup to Help Root Your Android PhoneAs any self-respecting technology geek knows, it is hard to leave well enough alone. That’s why, in spite of having a constant flow of new technology that my career requires that I master, there are always those pieces of technical gadgetry that I feel I must play with.  Most recently, that gadgetry has been Android tablets and phones.

It’s not just a matter of need; sure my Nook Color eBook reader became much more useful when I rooted it, then decided a custom ROM was the only way to go, and some of the last generation Android tablets have been abandoned by the vendor in terms of upgrades, so what else is a self-respecting geek supposed to do.  They simply had to be re-ROMed and updated. But when I decided that my state-of-the-art Samsung Galaxy S II phone needed a better ROM I realized that it was just an obsession.

That didn’t stop me from doing it; I just came to terms with my addiction.

One of the most annoying parts of this particular technology addiction, is that when you want to be sure you aren’t going to screw up a device you actually need, you often need to do a complete wipe of the device before you do a ROM upgrade. Fortunately there are a number of good Android backup apps and it’s possible to do a selective restore of your device from these applications.  And if you are using modified or officially unsupported apps, you can always backup your APK files so that you can reinstall via sideloading the apps.

Less worry, cleaner updates

It used to be that this backup and restoration process would mean that you needed to make sure you could move files between your desktop PC and your Android device, so that you could recover files when you were done with your upgrade.  But the advent of cloud storage clients for your Android device has made this whole process much more flexible.

By using the cloud as the storage location for complete backups of my Android devices, as well as a repository for apk installation files, I can now just worry about making sure that I do whatever it takes to do a clean update of my devices when I play with custom ROMs and the like.  Every device has its own, up-to-date backup stored in the cloud, using my cloud storage/backup-provider app of choice.

After I update a device, I simply go onto the Android Market, reinstall my cloud storage and backup application, and I’m now ready to reconfigure the device either to a previous state I was happy with or with some version of my previous configuration, with all of the apps and data easily at hand. I don’t have to worry about finding that special apk file, or making sure that I’m connected to the network where my last full backup is stored.  Everything I need for the device to be running the apps I want with the data I need is as close as my nearest Internet connection.

 

 

Why Storage Isn’t Just For Doomsday Preppers

Disaster Preparedness With MozyOK, so maybe they’re a little bit…off. Like your cousin who presented you with a crossbow as a wedding gift.

But there’s little doubt the good folks featured on National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers are firm believers in being prepared for the worst. Here is Nat Geo’s description of the program:

“Doomsday Preppers explores the lives of otherwise ordinary Americans who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. Unique in their beliefs, motivations, and strategies, preppers will go to whatever lengths they can to make sure they are prepared for any of life’s uncertainties. And with our expert’s assessment, they will find out their chances of survival if their worst fears become a reality.”

Here’s my take: Thank goodness they don’t live next door.

They may be extreme, and heavily armed and possess an exorbitant amount of canned peaches, but this doesn’t mean we can’t learn a few things from these folks ready to go all Mad Max if necessary. These preppers undoubtedly touch on some important survival strategies that certainly apply to the cyber-worlds where many of us live.

Here are some tips, inspired by those inspired to fill fruit cellars with ammunition and 40-pound bags of cous cous, which might keep your digital life intact in the event of a natural, manmade or otherworldly disaster. You might want to mark this down on your Maya calendar.

The Upside of Backup and Virtualization

There really is no downside to backing up your data using cloud-based backup tools for your desktop and mobile devices. The same goes for virtualizing, say, your small business. Once society begins to re-establish itself after the asteroid hits, it will obviously be a big reassurance knowing that all of your Microsoft programs will be there waiting for you, courtesy of virtualization via Vmware .

The cloud has huge potential to make an impact on disaster recovery and the amount of time it takes to get back up and running.

Bug Out Bag: Don’t Leave Home Without It

Doomsday Preppers often features the Bug Out Bag, basically a bag of gear that’s ready-to-go and filled with essentials, such as food, water, first aid kit, flashlight and 12,000 rounds of armor-piercing incendiary shells.  Because you never know when those Canadian revolutionaries will want what’s yours.

But it really is a smart idea to have a disaster bag packed (say a few days before an expected weather event), and even take it one step further: Prepare a backpack with cellphone and laptop chargers and a flash drive filled with important documents, contact numbers and emergency information. Throw in some spare batteries and that old laptop collecting dust, and at least you’ve given yourself the chance to alert North Dakotans that the Canadians are coming.

News Flash: Invest in a Flash Drive

Light, secure, easy to disguise and having the potential to hold tons of information, flash drives are an easy way to ensure you have vital information at your fingertips, even as those Arctic aliens try to pry it from your cold hands.

Security!

It all comes down to security and providing you and your family with a sense of comfort and preparedness in an uncertain world.  Security from a cyber-attack or well-disguised phishing campaign. Security from those afflicted with the zombie sickness. In both cases, vigilance is key. Pay attention to where a Google search takes you before clicking on a suspect link. Pay attention to where you choose to store your photos and documents  – sometimes free storage comes with a big cost.

And, most importantly – and this cannot be overstated enough – pay attention as your neighbor’s daughter walks aimlessly, slowly and stiffly toward your compound. She is likely one of the undead.

 

 

3 Reasons the Cloud is a Killer Job Creator

Cloud Creates JobsCloud computing may be the next big job generator, according to several new studies and an analysis of job postings.

“Job creator” is a tag fitting for the technology. As more functions and processes move offsite, and more businesses look to tap into the savings brought on by cloud computing, there is a clear need to have qualified workers ushering along the process.

So here are three indicators on why the cloud, among other benefits, means jobs.

Greater Job Potential Than the Early Internet 

A new study titled “Job Growth in the Forecast: How Cloud Computing is Generating New Business Opportunities and Fueling Job Growth in the United States” showed several ways cloud computing can create new jobs. The study was sponsored by SAP and revealed cloud computing has the potential to create big business opportunities and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.
Additionally, venture capital investments in cloud opportunities are projected to be $30 billion in the next five years, which has the potential to add another 213,000 new jobs in the U.S.

“The study confirms that cloud computing can have a significant impact at every key growth stage of the business lifecycle – from launching a startup to expanding a business to managing a multi-national enterprise,” said Jacqueline Vanacek, vice president and cloud computing evangelist at SAP. “Business growth leads to jobs, and cloud computing will accelerate this in certain industries.”

The study goes on to say cloud computing has greater potential for employment growth than the Internet did in its early years.

More Work Than Qualified Workers

The number of job postings in the cloud computing has grown so rapidly that there aren’t enough qualified workers available to fill the posts, according to an analysis of hiring trends by Wanted Analytics.

There were about 5,000 jobs posted online related to cloud technology, a 92% increase from the same month last year and a more than four times increase compared to 2010,according to Wanted Analytics.

“With the demand for cloud skills growing so quickly, the gap between hiring demand and talent supply across the United States is getting larger and causing more difficulties in sourcing candidates,” the report said.

Most of the cloud jobs are generated from service providers, with VMware posting the most cloud jobs last month with 360, according to Wanted Analytics. Microsoft came in second, with 230, and Amazon.com, URS Corp. and Google rounded out the top five.

San Jose, Calif., is the top metropolitan market for cloud employment. More than 900 cloud postings last month were in San Jose, up 144% compared to the same month last year. Seattle, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City are other booming job markets for cloud computing.

Worldwide Cloud Jobs Predicted to Hit 14 Million by 2015

IDC predicts cloud computing jobs will reach 14 million by 2015, according to a study sponsored by Microsoft.

“The cloud is going to have a huge impact on job creation,” said Susan Hauser, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Worldwide Enterprise and Partner Group. “It’s a transformative technology that will drive down costs, spur innovation and open up new jobs and skillsets across the globe.”

The cloud helps companies to be more innovative by freeing up IT managers to work on more mission-critical projects, the study shows.

More than one-third of cloud jobs will be in the communications and media, banking and discrete manufacturing industries.

China and India will account for half of new cloud-related jobs, according to the study.

 

 

Cloud Computing Link Round Up – April 2

OMGPOP, the gaming startup, whose Draw Something iPhone app used cloud computing and a NoSQL database to scale from zero (relatively speaking) to more than 35 million downloads in three weeks, never missed a beat.

Gigaom’s Derrick Harris discusses the impressive feat in Gigaom’s Structure blog.

“I had a brief call with Couchbase CEO Bob Wiederhold, whose company worked with OMGPOP to scale its implementation of the Couchbase database as demand started growing,” writes Harris.

Although the companies aren’t ready to give exact details yet, here’s what Wiederhold revealed:

  • OMGPOP is hosted in the cloud, but “they’re not on Amazon.”
  • Draw Something has been downloaded more than 35 million times. Players have created more than 1 billion pictures and are creating around 3,000 pictures per second.
  • To handle the incredible traffic spike, OMGPOP had to reconfigure its Couchbase cluster, scale it into the many tens of nodes, and many terabytes of data and increased throughout into the tens of thousands of operations per second.
  • Throughout all this, Draw Something didn’t experience any downtime.

This type of load really stresses a system, Wiederhold said, and if it wasn’t for its decision to use cloud computing and NoSQL technologies, “their game would have fallen over.”

Scalability is one of the primary calling cards for both cloud computing and NoSQL providers. Way to go, cloud.

Cloud Computing Is Here to Stay

Todd Nielsen, of Wired’s Cloudline blog, serves up some strong reasons on why cloud computing is here to stay.

Nielsen writes, “In psychoanalysis, ‘being in denial’ is a defense mechanism used by a person faced with an unpleasant situation too uncomfortable to accept or too ghastly to contemplate. The person rejects reality and insists it is not true, despite overwhelming evidence. I am constantly confronted with people in denial about the cloud.”

So Nielsen offers some cloud statistics:

  • 70 percent of businesses are either using or investigating cloud computing solutions.
  • Worldwide IT spending on cloud computing has increased more than 25 percent from 2008 to 2012.
  • Cloud providers have increased personnel from nil in 2007 to over 550,000 in 2010.

Hard to argue against these figures.

IT Needs to Take Control of the Cloud Before Storm Ensues

IT departments need to step up now and change its approach to cloud services, according to a study, “Delivering on High Cloud Expectations,” commissioned by BMC Software and conducted by Forrester Research.

This includes building trust with the lines of business, beginning to manage public cloud services, and pursuing increased automation for service provisioning and operations, according to ZDNet.

“Cloud and software as a service (SaaS) are in enterprises in a big way,” says Brian Singer, lead solutions marketing manager for BMC. “And we wanted to see how IT was dealing with them.”

For the study, researchers polled 327 enterprise infrastructure executives and architects. Among the key findings:

Today, 58 percent run mission critical workloads in unmanaged public clouds, regardless of policy. The researchers use “unmanaged” to describe clouds that are managed by the cloud operators, but not by the company buying the service.

In the next two years, 79 percent plan to run mission-critical workloads on unmanaged cloud services.

Nearly three out of four responders, 71 percent, thought that IT should be responsible for public cloud services.

Seventy two percent of CIOs believe that the business sees cloud computing as a way to circumvent IT.

Cloud Computing Attempts to Police Its Own

Wanting to provide a measure of security, cloud services organizations and companies whose daily bread is earned through trusted relationships with their clients have decided to band together and create a set of guidelines for the rest, according to Technorati.

The New Zealand Computer Society has put together a basic code of conduct for companies providing Web-based computing services, calling it CloudCode.

According to Joy Cottle, CloudCode facilitator, “The CloudCode is proactive, not prescriptive, based on what the industry is asking for both from a consumer and supplier perspective and more importantly a code of practice that is easily adopted by the providers and easily understood by the consumer.”

“A lack of understanding of the accepted definitions of cloud computing and what it entails results in a situation where services are being offered that don’t meet what are generally considered acceptable standards of practice,” said the Society.

 

 

Speeding up your applications in the Cloud with Blue Coat MACH5

If you think that moving to cloud-based applications will slow down your business, then take a closer look at Blue Coat’s Mach 5 WAN optimization appliance. It has some nifty features that can really improve cloud performance. While this is an old problem, what is new is how it solves the problem for many companies who are using cloud computing. Putting your apps in the cloud doesn’t mean they have to run slower, in fact, with Mach5, they can be tuned to actually run close to local load times.

Today’s networks are evolving towards more Internet-based cloud deployments using Web applications and protocols, incorporating more multi-media content such as Flash and Silverlight, as well as shared documents and other collaboration tools. There are thousands of software-as-a-service applications today, each catering to an important facet of your business.

Blue Coat believes that the greater adoption of the cloud will lead more companies to bring direct Internet access to branch offices. The company calls this “Branch to Cloud”. The service accomplishes several things: it protects your branch offices from Web-based malware, especially in real-time, moves information back and forth securely, and delivers documents from cloud-based repositories quickly, keeping bandwidth demands lean.

The idea is to install one of their appliances in a local office, and set it up to optimize for cloud delivery as you see in our series of configuration screens. The appliance will cache frequently used content, partial Web pages, images, video and downloaded files, so that subsequent accesses happen quickly.

But the real genius here is what’s missing from their solution. As you can see in our diagram above, you only need a single Blue Coat appliance on your local network – unlike competitors’ gear, you don’t need a matched pair when it comes to software-as-a-service, which is a good thing because that would be difficult to impossible with getting access to most cloud provider’s networks. Blue Coat’s CloudCaching Engine provides asymmetric or “one-sided” WAN optimization by using specialized caching and SSL decryption capabilities.

Better wide-area performance is just one feature of Mach5 and is part of an integrated line of WAN optimization appliances from Blue Coat that also accelerate remote access to email, centralized files, storage and enterprise applications and optimize live and on-demand video by enhancing the user experience and reducing the bandwidth consumption down to a thousandth or less of what it would otherwise be. If you have any of these applications on your network and your users are complaining about sluggish performance, then perhaps you might want to check them out on their website.

 

 

How to Select a Cloud Backup and Recovery Vendor – Part 3

(This article is the third in a three-part series exploring how to evaluate and select a cloud backup and recover service. Previous articles explored how to evaluate your data needs and how different data types are treated by backup services. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

Selecting a cloud backup vendorBackups, whether they’re local or to the cloud (or “hybrid,” doing both at the same time), can be done in a variety of ways. Just like if you’re planning to buy a car that can accelerate quickly–like driving on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway, whose entrance ramps are often very abbreviated)–you need to know whether a cloud service’s operation matches your needs. Some services do schedule backups, e.g. daily at 2 a.m. This means if your hard drive crashes at 4 p.m., you’ve lost everything you’ve been working on all day.

Other services apply a more frequent schedule, perhaps every six or three hours–again, possibly not good enough for your needs. Other services do backups continuously, meaning they check your files for changes. Even here, there are various ways this may be done. Some services do backups only when you exit an application, e.g., close down Microsoft Word. Some backup services back up a file when you save and close the file, which still may not be good enough if it’s a spreadsheet or other file you typically keep open all day long. (Or you have to change the way you work.) Other backup services save changes to a file every few minutes, or however frequently you specify, or even every time the application does “writes” to the computer’s disk.

Incremental and versioning

Obviously, continuous or very frequent backups offer the most protection for your data.

But you also need to know two important aspects of what the cloud backup is doing.

One, does the backup have to upload the entire file each time? For big files, like an Outlook .PST file, this can take a long time, and consume a lot of bandwidth. Or does the backup do an “incremental” backup — upload only the changes, applying them to the cloud backup?

And you also need to know, and be able to set, backup “versioning.” What if you want to get back a file the way it was the day before, for example? Does the service offer “versioning”? If so, how many “versions” will it maintain?

Backup considerations

Other important things to determine about a cloud backup provider (by reading their website, and, if need be, asking a sales person) include:

  • If you delete a file from your hard drive, does the backup service delete its copy? Or does it preserve these files, and if so, for how long?
  • Recovering files: can you do it through any web browser on any computer (assuming you haven’t lost your password)? How long does it take to recover a few files, or a few directories?
  • Recovering large amounts of data: How long to recover a gigabyte, or many gigabytes — how long does it take the cloud service to get the recovered data available, and how long will the download take? And for very large recoveries — many gigabytes or tens-to-hundreds of gigabytes — can you request them sent to you on a DVD or hard drive? And if so, how much extra does this cost, and how quickly can it be done?
  • How much does the cloud backup service cost, and how are charges determined? Are charges based on the amount of data “being protected” — what’s on your hard drive(s) — or the size of the stored backup? Can you backup several computers to a single account, and if so, are there per-computer charges? Are you charged for retrievals? Customer service calls?
  • What operating system(s) and version(s) does the cloud backup service support? For example, if you’ve got a Mac, and they only support Windows, that doesn’t do you any good.
  • How long does it take for the first backup — which, if you have a lot of data, can take a long time? Can you “prime the pump” by sending in a copy of your data on DVD or hard drive (make sure secured with encryption and a password!)? And if so, what does that cost?

Once you know what a cloud backup service is doing, you can see if it’s a match for all, or some, of your data backup needs. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know when you look at cloud services which ones may be a match, and which ones clearly aren’t.

Then you look at which of these is the best match based on the way you work and your back up needs.

 

 

Top 5 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade and Enter the Cloud

Upgrade and enter the cloudHard as it is, it just may be time to let go of yesterday’s technology and get on with yourself. The signs have been getter more clear over the last few years. There was that incident with the cat photos at work. And that visit from the uptight suit with the IRS. So before things really get out of control, do yourself, your family and Huey Lewis a favor and trade up to the 21st century and the magic of all that is cloud computing.

Wait For the Beep…

You don’t have voicemail. You have an answering machine. A big, hulking Panasonic monstrosity that requires a team lift it when rearranging the home office.

Solution: Update to a smartphone; any VOIP setup.

Catastrophe

A pile of work documents has somehow co-mingled with dozens of 8×10 prints of your great-aunt’s feline companion “Buttons” dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” It doesn’t take a wizard to see this is headed nowhere good.

Solution: Explain to the senior vice president that yes, it is a cat, and yes, it is also a flying monkey, but no, it has no bearing on the Rooney account. Hook up Aunt Mable with a Facebook account, and buy yourself a document management solution and add some backup and storage options for your work files.

Tax Alot

You use your buddy who can crunch and store large numbers in his head as your accountant. Sure, he was featured on Stan Lee’s “Superhumans,” but this doesn’t seem to impress the guy from the IRS who’s looking at you in a funny way.

Solution: Utilize the benefits of cloud computing to compile and store important receipts and tax documents.

Mix Signals

Your cassette player is undoubtedly cool, and ’80s retro, and a conversation starter and ironic. But you’re spending $87 a week on AA batteries. Even Huey Lewis would surely understand that simple economics suggest it’s time to hang up those foam-covered headphones and pick up a cloud-based music service.

Solution: Pandora, iTunes, Rhapsody, watching episodes of VH1′s “I Love the ’80s.”

Fine Print

Print may not be dead, but the cost of printing out photos is nearly killin’ ya. The home office is beginning to resemble a second-rate law library, with dozens and dozens of brown, imitation-leather-bound photo albums lining shelves and cluttering tabletops. We know it was a pretty rainbow, but did you really need to print out 45 shots of it? Less is more. For real.

Solution: Store and share the majority of your photos in the cloud, and pick a handful of special ones to print out and display. Like that one of the cat dressed as the munchkin mayor.

 

 

Cloud Computing and Links – March 26

‘Personal Cloud’ to Replace PC by 2014, Says Gartner

The cloud has certainly grabbed the attention of both big business and the typical consumer, but the technology’s impact may signal the end of the PC as we know it. Research firm Gartner believes the personal cloud will replace the PC as the center of our digital lives sooner than you might think: 2014.

“Major trends in client computing have shifted the market away from a focus on personal computers to a broader device perspective that includes smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices,” Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. “Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the Web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life.”

Mike Barton, of Wired’s Cloudline blog, delves into the subject here. Barton draws former Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie into the discussion.

“People argue about, ‘Are we in a post-PC world?’ Why are we arguing? Of course we are in a post-PC world,” Ozzie said at a recent GeekWire-sponsored conference. “That doesn’t mean the PC dies; that just means that the scenarios that we use them in, we stop referring to them as PCs, we refer to them as other things.”

And You Thought Your Utility Bills Were High

How many servers does it take to power Amazon’s huge cloud computing operation? Like most large Internet
companies, Amazon doesn’t disclose such details. But a researcher estimates that Amazon Web Services is using at least 454,400 servers in seven data center hubs around the globe, according to a post at Data Center Knowledge.

Huan Liu, a research manager at Accenture Technology Labs, analyzed Amazon’s EC2 compute service using internal and external IP addresses, which he extrapolated to come up with estimates for the number of racks in each data center location. Liu then applied an assumption of 64 blade servers per rack – four 10U chassis, each holding eight blades – to arrive at the estimate.

Liu’s estimate is bound to generate some debate. But it provides an additional point of reference for Amazon’s scale, along with earlier analyses. It clearly places the size of Amazon’s structure well above the hosting providers that have publicly disclosed their server counts, but still well below the estimated 900,000 servers in Google’s data center network.

Cloud Hunts for the Origins of the Universe

When your day job is figuring out the workings of the universe you need some heavy duty computing power at your disposal.

That’s why researchers at CERN, the Swiss research lab that is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator, are dialing up additional muscle from the cloud, according to ZDNet.

CERN is taking part in the Helix Nebula initiative, a pilot project designed to kick start the European cloud computing industry by carrying out scientific research in the cloud.

“On the CERN site we can’t increase the size of our data center much more. Two or three years down the line we’re going to be limited by space and by electrical consumption. We have to think of what other options are open to us and the on-demand, elastic cloud computing provided by a number of these companies seems like a very good option for us to explore,” said Bob Jones, CERN’s head of openlab, the public-private partnership that helps CERN identify new IT that could benefit the lab.

CERN’s mission is to answer fundamental questions such as “What is the origin of mass?” Heavy stuff.

 

 

How to Make the Private Cloud More Secure

Cloud securitySecurity concerns remain one of the biggest obstacles to cloud computing adoption, even as spending on cloud-based solutions accelerates. Users welcome the affordability and scalability of cloud solutions, but many remain fearful about the potential for network breaches and leaks. These fears typically focus on public cloud offerings, and as such, they open opportunities for securing private cloud environments.

Just as in the physical world, security is a multi-pronged approach in the virtual world as well. You need basic anti-virus/anti-malware protection just like any desktop or server receives across your enterprise; access controls so that a random employee can’t bring down your entire virtual infrastructure; firewalls and intrusion prevention products to keep network-based attackers out; and auditing and compliance tools to make sure your security is up to snuff. That is a lot of gear to handle, and all of it has to come cloud-aware otherwise it won’t be much use. Let’s look at some typical products in each category.

Reflex’ Virtual Management Center is the most comprehensive security solution, with modules in three broad areas (auditing/compliance, firewall/intrusion detection, and access controls). The product is actually four separate protective modules that are knit together with separate reporting and management consoles:

  • vTrust for virtual firewall protection,
  • vCapacity for capacity management,
  • vWatch which handles performance and resource monitoring and
  • vProfile for configuration management

Trend Micro purchased Third Brigade and has incorporated its features into its Deep Security product. The product has a variety of protective modules, including agent or agentless firewall/IDS, anti-malware, and web application protection. As you might suspect from a consumer software company, its Web management interface is very attractive and the dashboard has a lot going on. At a glance you can see your entire VM collection, whether any protective measures have been installed, and what alerts have been reported. You have to use the maps generated by VMware to see a visual picture of your network of VMs and their hosts.

Then there is Dome9.com, which is trying to make the cloud more secure by providing an automated service to centralize and consolidate security management across both private and public clouds and in and outside of your data center, including VMs residing on Rackspace, Amazon’s EC2 and GoGrid. They will manage all of your Window and Linux servers’ existing built-in firewalls. The product uses either agents or talks directly to VMware and other cloud provider APIs to automate secure access. For example, you can open and close RDP ports on a timed schedule to make sure that someone didn’t inadvertently leave them open when they were done with a remote connection.

They can also close ports without locking out legitimate server admins who need to get in on an as-needed basis without having to bother the overall security administrator to temporarily grant this access.

Tier 3′s Environment Engine can help the automation of various Microsoft and Linux server deployments. Each deployment can be configured to be private, shared publicly or limited sharing to specific individuals. You can add multiple VMs so that an entire Web app can be brought up with a single command, even though it is deployed across multiple Web, database, and app servers on different VMs. You can script out an entire installation, adding monitoring, backups, firewall rule sets – in short, you can replicate in the cloud your entire computing environment.

As you can see, the number of individual products and services that are available to handle cloud computing is a huge space, and only growing as the important of the cloud picks up for many IT managers. You should try out some of these services and experiment with the kinds of protective features that you need to feel comfortable with your cloud deployment.

We have just touched on a few of the products in this space and feel free to share the ones that you recommend as well.

 

 

How to Select a Cloud Backup and Recovery Vendor – Part 2

(This article is the second in a three-part series exploring how to evaluate and select a cloud backup and recover service. The previous article explored how to evaluate your data needs and the future article will cover the different backup methods. Read Part 1 here, and Part 3 here.)

Selecting a Cloud Backup VendorIn terms of backup requirements, not all of your data is the same.

One way of looking at your data is by importance: What data can’t you live without? What would be unable to reconstruct or rebuild? For example, you can re-rip new copies of your audio CDs or re-scan your old photographs, if you still have them, but you won’t be able to rewrite your project report or your novel manuscript from memory; you won’t be able to re-take pictures of your dog from five years ago.

Another question: what data do you need back as soon as possible, and how soon is “as soon as possible”? This is what backup experts typically refer to as “Recovery Point Objective” (RPO) and “Recovery Time Objective” (RTO).

For example, I’m a freelance writer; the files for my active projects, plus some key calendar, to-do list and other files, typically total to maybe a quarter of a gigabyte. My “archives” — files for projects I’m dealing with — and other less-critical files represent maybe a gigabyte or so.

Not prepared to lose

But I’ve also got 50+ gigabytes of photos, 25+ gigabytes of video, some audio, dozens of scanned images, and gigabytes of assorted sundry stuff.

And when I get to digitizing my older photos and negatives, record albums, and CDs, I’m sure I’ll have a terabyte or so of additional multimedia files.

None of which I am prepared to lose — so it all must be backed up.

For you, essential data you need available may include three large databases, many spreadsheets, several presentations, the past three months’ worth of email, and client billing and payment data for the past six months. If you’re a professional photographer or designer, you may need a ready archive of tens, even hundreds of gigabytes of photos and images.

And you may have lots of personal multimedia — photos, video, scans, etc. — that you don’t want to lose.

RPOs and RTOs

So I’ve really got several sets of RPO/RTOs and yours might look similar to mine:

  • For the RPO consisting of “Projects that I am actively working on, plus roughly half a dozen files of to-do, calendaring, etc.” my RTO would be “two to three hours at most.” Ideally, for the half-dozen or so files relating to projects I’m working on immediately, I’d prefer an RTO of “one hour or less.”
  • For the RPO that also includes other current projects, along with marketing and pitching, I could probably live with an RTO of 1-2 days.
  • For all my other files, I’m sure I could wait a week, even weeks to months — as long as I knew for sure that I’d get them all back.

All this, of course, is just for data. I’d also want a working computer with my core productivity applications on it. (Having recently bought a new, small notebook computer, I’ve got that covered — although there’s more I could be doing in that area… but that’s straying from “data backup.”)

Create and change

The next question: How often do I create or change files — and how much do I care about saving these changes.

For example, my multimedia files are pretty “static” — once I’ve created, organized and named or tagged them, I don’t expect to edit or change them, as a rule.

But the files for whatever I’m working on are created or changed throughout the day. If I lose a file that I have been working on all day (and my most recent backup was at midnight) I’ve lost hours of effort.

So you not only have to know how much data you have, but also how much of it changes frequently, and which and how much data you need near-continuous access to versus what you can wait a few days or even weeks to regain access to.

Now you’re ready to look at cloud backup services, and see which of these match your requirements.