There was a time not too long ago when backup software pretty much only handled one scenario, ie backing up physical servers.
Then came virtualisation. And for quite some time the long-standing backup software providers – Symantec, EMC, IBM, Commvault et al – did not support it, while newcomers like Veeam arose to specialise in protecting virtual machines and gave the incumbents a shove.
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Then we had the rise of the cloud, and initially in backup products this was an option as a target.
But as the cloud provided a potential off-site repository in which to protect data it also became the site for business applications as a service.
That meant the cloud became a backup source.
There is some data protection capability in the likes of Office 365 but this doesn’t always fulfil an organisation’s needs.
There’s a the risk of losing access to data via a network outage, and there are compliance needs that might require, for example, an e-discovery process. Or there’s simply the need to make sure data is kept it in several locations.
So, companies like Veeam now allow a variety of backup options for software services like Office 365.
You can, for example, use Veeam to bring data back from the cloud source to the on-prem datacentre as a target. That way you can run processes such as e-discovery that would be difficult or impossible in the cloud application provider’s environment.
Or you can backup from cloud source to cloud target. This could be to a service provider’s cloud services, or to a repository built by the customer in Azure, AWS etc. Either option might enable advanced search and cataloguing to be made easier, or might simply provide a secondary location.
With the possibility of backup of physical and virtual machines in the datacentre and the cloud and then spin-up to recover from any of these locations, full interoperability between environments is on the horizon.
For now the limits are beyond those of the backup product, assuming it has full physical-to-virtual interoperability, but are those of the specific scenario. A very powerful dedicated physical server running high performance transactional processing for a bank, for example, could likely not be failed over to the cloud.
But nevertheless, the trends in backup indicate a future where the site of compute and storage can slide seamlessly between cloud and on-prem locations.