Data protection solution lessons from ‘Silicon Valley’

DRaaS and BaaS.

In the fourth season of the hit HBO show "Silicon Valley," one of the major plot arcs is the migration of an enormous amount of computer data to what it is effectively a decentralized internet. Previously, the fictional startup Pied Piper had tied its fate to the preservation of one company's massive insurance database, using only the IT infrastructure it had set up in a stereotypical garage in California.

After a technical mishap, it looks like the stored data is lost for good. However, it turns out that at the last minute it had been backed up to a series of "smart" (i.e., internet-connected) refrigerators in constant communication with each other. Instead of the centralized data center model of the internet, Pied Piper created – by dumb luck, through a odd configuration of the company fridge earlier in the season – an alternative built on widely distributed devices.

It was a nice twist ending to the season finale, but as an actual backup and disaster recovery mechanism, it was an insane risk for FGI, Pied Piper's client. Plus, the decentralized network that Pied Piper pioneered was novel, yet still a ways away in terms of feasibility in the real world, unlike some of the show's other prominent concepts (such as HD video chat).

So here and now, what options do enterprises actually have to avoid losing access to their most important assets in a critical situation – as FGI CTO Dan Melcher often feared after signing up to work with Pied Piper? The best places to start are Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) and Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS), both of which convert normally time- and labor-intensive tasks into automated processes in the cloud.

It's not magic, but it's close enough: DRaaS at a glance

Whereas Pied Piper relied on smart refrigerators as critical pieces of IT infrastructure, modern DRaaS is built on highly reliable sites, namely Tier 3+ data centers. The vast scalability and flexibility of the IT resources in these facilities allow customers to:

  • Meet even aggressive recovery time objectives (RTOs) for the restoration of data in accordance with business requirements.
  • Perform near-instant virtualization of any failed local systems to the cloud.
  • Continue working with these key systems in the cloud while local machines are being restored.
  • Pay for environments on a predictable schedule, avoiding over-provisioning and unnecessary CAPEX.
  • Access image-based backups that simplify the recovery of individual files, allow bare metal servers to be restored and enable individual backups to be booted as virtual machines.

There are numerous advantages to DRaaS, which resemble some of the benefits of the decentralized solution that the Pied Piper team came up with. For starters, it removes the overhead of having to manage critical infrastructure in-house; just as Pied Piper shifted the storage burden away from its limited hardware and took advantage of the greater scale of the Internet of Things.

Data center.DRaaS and BaaS remove the drudgery of managing complex IT infrastructure on your own.

DRaaS also makes backup and restoration costs much more predictable than they would be with a self-managed solution. Customers typically pay a fee to sustain their DRaaS accounts by covering all the essential expenses such as servers, networking and 24/7 technical support.

As a result, there are no huge surprise investments needed during an emergency, and IT personnel do not have to fear being left high and dry when their assets are in trouble. The situation at the end of season four – when Pied Piper had a technical glitch and didn't know if Melcher's data was safe – will never happen with a reputable DRaaS platform, governed by a service-level agreement that contractually spells out how quickly data can be restored during a disaster.

"With DRaaS, there are no huge surprise investments needed during an emergency."

Another feather in the cloud cap: What you gain from Backup-as-a-Service

Like DRaaS, BaaS involves some level of decentralization in how key information is handled. Traditional backups are concentrated in on-premises facilities, which offer a high level of control but are uniquely vulnerable to disruption; in contrast, BaaS leverages the scale of cloud-based resources to ensure secure and dependable backup via a public, private or hybrid cloud.

The cloud infrastructure shields backups from many possible dangers, everything from an electrical outage at the main office to a sudden budget-busting need for additional storage that leads to massive over-provisioning of storage resources. Moreover, the BaaS solution is manageable from a single platform, meaning that you can reduce the amount of floor space you dedicate to equipment as well the expenses for the maintenance and cooling associated with it.

UbiStor is your one-stop shop for DRaaS, BaaS and other cloud computing services that help you scale your IT operations at a sustainable cost. Find out more about all of these solutions by visiting our main services page, and contact us directly with any additional questions or concerns.