As the cloud continues to become a commercial imperative for businesses, they have realised they must overhaul their data backup processes.

Forrester concludes in its report into storage trends: "Awareness of cloud technologies has also served to reduce willingness to accept restrictions or delays on storage. These factors, as well as a simple desire for better results and fewer headaches, are driving storage decision-makers to prioritise simplicity and automation in their storage evaluation criteria."

The data within your business is its most precious commodity. As such it is vital that the backup systems in place are robust enough to cope with not only your data backup needs today, but for the future.

Safety steps

There are a number of easy-to-follow steps to ensure your data is safe when it moves to the cloud:

1. Look at your existing service level agreements. Often SLAs were written and signed in the pre-cloud period. Levels of accessibility, data backup responsibilities and ownership all need to the reconsidered for a cloud-based environment.

2. Does your existing service scale? One thing is certain: your current cloud storage capacity will be out stripped by your actual needs. As big data becomes more important for businesses, ensure your data backup service can scale as your needs expand.

3. Security is of paramount importance. SLAs must cover in detail the security that your cloud backups will use. This should include the security of the data centre itself, but also the security of your data as it moves from your business, over the internet and onto your backup service provider's servers.

4. When disaster strikes, a good data backup service is only as good as its recovery options. If your business did lose on-site data, how would your business recover these files? Look for a backup service that has redundancy built into its data centres and also offers other means of shipping your lost files to your premises.

5. Think about physical security. As your business is backing up its data off-site, how safe and secure is your cloud partner's data centre? Many data centres are in disused nuclear bunkers, but many are not, so look closely at the physical security of their data centre premises.

AppAssure purchase

The purchase of AppAssure by Dell has also indicated that cloud-based storage is now a major component of business success.

Dell AppAssure goes beyond simply protecting data, to protecting entire applications enabling service providers and enterprises to adopt a cloud model to deliver fast, reliable and secure data protection. It delivers backup and recovery of virtual servers, including VMware, Hyper-V and XenServer, as well as physical servers.

"Dell AppAssure's unique architecture delivers innovative cloud-enabled backup and replication solutions that meet the challenges of protecting the explosive growth of data in both virtual and physical environments," said Brad Anderson, president, Enterprise Solutions Group, Dell.

"At a practical level, Dell AppAssure enables Dell customers to seamlessly move and replicate data across our existing platforms – from an EqualLogic array in a remote office to a Compellent array at a data recovery site."