Understanding Cloud Backup Costs and 4 Ways to Cut Your Costs

January 10, 2022

Topics: Elementary5 minute readCloud Backup

How Much Does Cloud Backup Cost?

Cloud backup involves transporting a version of a virtual or physical database or file to another, off-site location. This helps preserve data in the event of equipment failure or a catastrophe. The secondary storage systems and servers are typically hosted by an independent service provider. This provider charges the customer a fee for backing up its information, which may be based on capacity used, storage capacity, amount of users, information transmission bandwidth, number of servers or the number of times that the information stored is accessed.  

The majority of cloud subscriptions are charged on a monthly or annual basis. Online backup solutions were first used primarily by home offices and consumers, however, today they are generally used by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). They are also used by larger enterprises, which typically have backup facilities on-premises, and complement them with off-site cloud backup services to improve resilience.

In this article:

Cloud Backup Cost Breakdown

Organizations initially adopting cloud backups often misjudge the costs. Traditional on-premises backups had costs that were easy to identify. An organization would, for instance, have costs connected with backup software licenses and backup media. These costs were predictable and, in general, fixed. Cloud backup costs are different as they can vary greatly and tend to increase over time.

There are two general costs that organizations need to consider with cloud backups:

  • Data storage costs - an organization tends to own the backup media used to create backup on premises, however they never own the cloud backup media. Rather, the provider leases the media on a monthly basis. Organizations who use the cloud for backup will likely need to pay the cloud provider a monthly fee for each gigabyte of storage they use.
  • Transfer costs - cloud providers often charge their clients for the upload and download of data. This is in addition to the ongoing costs of storage. Also, some Internet service providers charge their clients according to the volume of data they transfer in any given month. This can be costly as cloud backup results in large data transfers over the Internet.

Public Cloud Backup vs Private Cloud Backup vs Backup Service Provider Backup

There are three primary deployment models for cloud backup: public cloud, private cloud, and dedicated cloud backup service providers.

Public Cloud Backup Cost

Many organizations store data in public clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. The public cloud creates a reference point for storage pricing. Public cloud servers generally offer several tiers of storage, to help with anything from archive data to critical workloads. The costs per gigabyte are generally low and there is no CapEx for hardware. There is only an ongoing OpEx storage expense. Yet, data transfer costs may come into play at recovery time.

Backing up into the public cloud is a top option for organizations that require highly available and readily accessible, affordable cloud storage.

Private Cloud Backup Cost

Organizations may wish to use dedicated infrastructure from a cloud provider. Alternatively, they may run cloud infrastructure in their own data center.

Here is what an organization should consider for each option:

  • Internal private clouds - require high infrastructure CapEx costs to create a data center. Many organizations avoid this option due to its cost and complexity, unless there is a strong compliance or security requirement.
  • Hosted private clouds - have the same monthly OpEx-style costs, and only pay for the storage and infrastructure. Because the organization uses dedicated and not shared hardware, the costs involved with private cloud backup will typically be higher compared to public cloud storage.

Organizations select private cloud backup when they need to manage and customize their backups, or have requirements outside the scope of what the public cloud can provide.

Backup Service Provider Costs

Cloud backup service providers are vendors that provide a dedicated, managed backup service, hosted on cloud resources. These services differ from private cloud backup as they also offer staffing and services. Staff will, for example, assist with configuration or recovery, or may even take responsibility for backups and restore operations.

With backup service providers, storage, hardware, and staffing services are included, and so the costs are typically higher than public cloud backup solutions.

Backup service providers are a solid choice for organizations that don’t have the internal backup expertise or staff to meet the organization’s backup needs.

4 Ways to Reduce Cloud Backup Costs

An organization should consider how it can reduce the volume of data transmitted to the cloud. Every gigabyte of data will incur a cost. Also, cloud backup providers commonly charge for the amount of bandwidth an organization uses to upload its data.

The following are ways to reduce cloud backup costs:

  1. Consider the pricing model - smaller vendors generally provide both storage and backup software at a price per gigabyte. Larger vendors tend to take additional factors into consideration, for example, storage costs and ingress, query fees, deletion, egress, and retrieval. This makes it difficult to predict a monthly fee.
  2. Clarify costs in advance - most cloud providers offer cost calculators which organizations can use to simulate its use case and estimate costs.
  3. Make use of cloud storage gateway appliances - cloud storage gateway appliances typically emulate a virtual tape library. Organizations can backup its data to the appliance, and then the data is uploaded to the cloud by the appliance. This offers two clear advantages. First, because the appliance has internal storage, it lets organizations retain a copy of its latest backups on premises. This way organizations don’t need to restore from the cloud. Secondly, many appliances perform compression, deduplication and other data reduction methods to decrease the amount of data an organization needs to upload to the cloud.
  4. Consider what data to backup - avoid uploading unessential data to the cloud. Consider whether to avoid backing up this data, or choose the most affordable cloud storage tier, and define a data lifecycle policy that moves less important data to this tier. A common lifecycle policy is to keep recent backup data on mid-grade storage tier, migrate aging backup data automatically to an archival tier, and after a required retention period, purge the data altogether to conserve costs.

Reducing Cloud Backup Costs with NetApp Cloud Backup

NetApp understands ONTAP better than anyone else, which is why the best backup solution for ONTAP systems is NetApp Cloud Backup. Designed by NetApp specifically for ONTAP, Cloud Backup automatically creates block-level incremental forever backups. These copies are stored in object format and preserve all ONTAP’s storage efficiencies. Your backups are 100X faster to create, easy to restore, and much more reliable than with any other solution.

Cloud Backup simplifies the entire back up process. It’s intuitive, quick to deploy, and managed from the same console as the rest of the NetApp cloud ecosystem. Whether you’re looking for a less expensive way to store your backups, a faster, more capable technology than NDMP, or an easy way to enable a 3-2-1 strategy, Cloud Backup offers the best backup solution for ONTAP.

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