Managing Backup Storage Costs in Enterprise Clouds

As the volume of historical data continues to skyrocket, organizations are increasingly turning to the cloud to help them effectively manage their data volumes and associated costs, particularly for backup storage. As this data shifts to cloud platforms, it’s becoming crucial to find a way to back up these ever-increasing backup data while managing inflating costs.

Benefits of Cloud Backup Storage

Organizations seek a backup solution that’s easy to implement and manage. There are a couple of clear benefits to leveraging the cloud for backup storage instead of relying on traditional on-premises options.


Clouds provide near-unlimited scalability, which is appealing to organizations whose data sets are growing at unprecedented rates. Cloud-native backup solutions extend this same benefit of scalability, and can flex to meet the needs of an organization’s evolving backup needs. Most cloud-native vendors now perform continuous backups, with forever incremental captures of changed blocks in an increment of their customer’s choosing. Storing backup data of this volume is not feasible in a traditional on-premises backup solution.

However, without proper management and retention policies, these small but frequent backups can consume a significant amount of storage space. Administrators can (and should!) take advantage of built-in policy management tools to systematically reduce and remove backup data when it’s no longer needed, or has been sufficiently captured to meet the SLA requirements.

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Of course, a hallmark of cloud storage is its ability to provide ad hoc resources as needed for agile environments. With the cloud, your IT or development teams can scale resources up or down on demand, versus with on-premises storage options, where you would have needed to plan and purchase storage in advance.

Data Portability

Generally, cloud-based backups are easier to move and migrate than their legacy counterparts. Additionally, some backups are stored in an easy-to-use, vendor-agnostic format that allows for flexible and efficient data management. By storing historical snapshots in an open format, they’re also easier to recover and restore, even if there’s a lapse in licensing or a change in technology platform.

Cost Considerations

For all of the benefits of leveraging a cloud partner for backup, there are cost considerations that must become part of an organization’s broader cloud and backup strategy.

Capacity & Consumption

The amount of data that an organization manages and backs up is a key cost driver. For an organization accumulating many new pedabytes of data per day, simply copying it to the cloud might not be efficient. Your backup storage strategy needs to be well-thought-out, and your organization should consider variables such as the number of data copies you need, per day or per hour, in various SLA tiers.

Most organizations require three copies of their data: production, onsite backup, and offsite backup or cloud backup. While onsite backup means you can restore information more quickly, it is often more costly and less flexible. You’ll need to identify the point at which your company is willing to lengthen the RTO and RPO in order to save costs. To save on RPO, companies can configure policies to take less frequent snapshots,  automatically delete snapshots after a certain amount of time has passed, or configure regularly scheduled increments at which to archive workloads — like monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Similarly, companies can cut down on their RTO by choosing an easy-to-recover solution (like TrilioVault for OpenStack and KVM) that restores whole environments to their original state.

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Variable Costs

Cost are variable. While on-premises backup costs are generally fixed, cloud-based backup costs are variable and tend to grow over time due to storage and transfer costs:

  • Storage costs: organizations will pay a monthly fee to a cloud vendor based on their backup data consumption/usage
  • Transfer costs: organizations are typically hit by fees both during ingress and egress of data to the cloud. The amount of data transferred often creates much larger transfer bills. As the volume of an organization’s backup data sets grow, so does the transfer cost.

Managing Costs

There a several things that an organization can do as part of their overall cloud strategy that will help to better manage the cost associated with backup.

  1. Keep your eye on your capacity, and avoid backing up data that does not need to be backed-up. Where possible, take advantage of a solution that doesn’t need a cloud storage gateway appliance — like TrilioVault — to help manage costs.
  2. Choose commodity storage where possible.
  3. Be smart about your data lifecycle management. Configure cloud backup policies so that you’re retaining your backups at the minimum interval, and they’re deleted once they are no longer needed.
  4. Be diligent about monitoring and governing costs. Leverage chargebacks where you can so that you can tag resources and track costs accordingly.

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