Missing Link in ENTERPRISE NETWORKING
By: Crystal Bedell | 18 October 2016
Managed cloud-based backup services offer a host of benefits. Most notably, they eliminate the need to determine future storage requirements and procure hardware to meet these needs. But cloud backup is not one-size-fits-all. The speed of data transfer is an important feature to consider when evaluating cloud backup providers. As part of that evaluation, enterprises should consider if and how the provider uses a WAN accelerator.
Cloud backup providers face the formidable challenge of transferring all of your data over the WAN, and it can't be solved by simply throwing more bandwidth at the problem. Switch protocols transmit data via the least number of router hops, rather than the shortest physical path, and this affects how fast your data can travel from Point A to Point B.
According to Jon Toigo, CEO and managing principal of Toigo Partners International, "Moving data through a public WAN is like taking a multi-segment airplane trip from Tampa to Dallas; the carrier gets you to your destination not by flying across the Gulf of Mexico, but rather using a route that moves you through Boston, Charlotte and Detroit before landing in Dallas."
That's just the beginning. There's also the matter of sending data among a number of carriers whose rocky relationships can influence whether data arrives at its destination within seconds or hours on any given day. And the switch fabric itself presents dropped packets, queuing delays, resend requests and other issues that can delay data transfers.
Still, there are steps cloud backup providers can take to help move your data along the WAN. A WAN accelerator is software or an appliance that optimizes bandwidth to improve the flow of data across the WAN. As explained in a Backup Technology blog, there are three key capabilities provided by a WAN accelerator that can improve the speed of your data transfer:
Disruptions to the network are commonplace, thanks to the aforementioned packet drops and queuing delays. It's important, therefore, to ensure that all information is replicated in the cloud. Ask your cloud backup provider if it uses resilient-resumption technology, which enables it to recover and maintain operations without data loss after a network disruption.
A cloud backup provider can prevent your backups from slowing down the rest of the network traffic by controlling how much bandwidth your backups consume at various times during the day. While your backups may consume the majority of the bandwidth on nights and weekends, for instance, they'll use a minimal amount of bandwidth during business hours. A dynamic maximum transfer unit (MTU) can further optimize throughput.
Cloud providers can further improve data transfer speeds by not sending data across the WAN at all - that is, if it already exists in the cloud repository. Block-level deduplication over the WAN checks the cloud repository to determine whether a specific block has already been backed up. The block is only transferred over the WAN if it's not already present in the cloud backup.
Eliminating the overhead associated with managing on-site backups is a significant benefit to moving to managed cloud backup. While data transfer speeds are a concern, they don't have to be a deal-breaker - if you do your homework. When evaluating providers, ask or explore how they improve data transfer speeds via a WAN accelerator. You'll feel more confident that your data will get to its destination on time and intact.