It goes without saying that for most of us, the public cloud and the major public cloud vendors backing them are often considered unbreakable. We often think of public cloud environments as perfectly resilient without the possibility of any outages. However, recent Google outages show that cloud backups are needed.
Today, at the time of this writing, Google Calendar experienced a multiple hour outage. Recently a rash of Google cloud outages have led to many thinking much more seriously about cloud disaster recovery and the possibilities of outages in general and potential data loss. Let’s take a look at this latest Google outage and further thoughts about cloud backups, resiliency, multi-cloud, and data threats.
Recent Google Outages
Recently, at the beginning of the month, Google Cloud services experienced a major outage due to an incorrect configuration being applied to a mistakenly large subsection of Google servers which resulted in a mass network misconfiguration resulting in inadvertent bandwidth restrictions that resulted in a massive loss of service to a wide section of Google users. This resulted in the following series of events being posted on the status page from the outage:
- Jun 02, 2019 12:25 – We are investigating an issue with Google Compute Engine. We will provide more information by Sunday, 2019-06-02 12:45 US/Pacific.
- Jun 02, 2019 12:59 – Issue is related to a larger network issue
- Jun 02, 2019 13:36 – This issue is still ongoing. We are experiencing high levels of network congestion in the eastern USA, affecting multiple service in Google Cloud, GSuite and YouTube. Users may see slow performance or intermittent errors. We believe we have identified the root cause of the congestion and expect to a return to normal service shortly.
- Jun 02, 2019 14:58 – We continue to experience high levels of network congestion in the eastern USA, affecting multiple services in Google Cloud, G Suite and YouTube. Users may see slow performance or intermittent errors. Our engineering teams have completed the first phase of their mitigation work and are currently implementing the second phase, after which we expect to return to normal service. We will provide an update at 16:00 US/Pacific.
- Jun 02, 2019 17:09 – The network congestion issue in eastern USA, affecting Google Cloud, G Suite, and YouTube has been resolved for all affected users as of 4:00pm US/Pacific.
Today’s event, just a couple of weeks past the major network event earlier this month, resulted in an outage to Google Calendar services.
- 6/18/19, 12:13 PM – The problem with Google Calendar should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.
- 6/18/19, 11:40 AM – We expect to resolve the problem affecting a majority of users of Google Calendar at 6/18/19, 12:40 PM. Please note that this time frame is an estimate and may change. The affected users are unable to access Google Calendar.
- 6/18/19, 10:40 AM – Our team is continuing to investigate this issue. We will provide an update by 6/18/19, 11:40 AM with more information about this problem. Thank you for your patience. The affected users are unable to access Google Calendar.
- 6/18/19, 9:22 AM – We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Calendar. We will provide more information shortly. The affected users are unable to access Google Calendar.
Both of these events represent outages that you do not typically expect to see from a major public cloud vendor serving out your business-critical resources. Were you among the many Google users who had tense moments in either of these events related to your data? Is your data safe? It well emphasizes the need to protect your data outside of any “light” backup type capabilities that are found in G Suite today. These Google Outages Show Cloud Backups are Needed.
Cloud Backups are Needed
Many are under misconceptions when it comes to public cloud and their data. Public cloud is viewed as resilient and available to a fault. However, there are critical aspects of public cloud that you need to take seriously and examine with the goal of protecting your data, including cloud backups.
First, today’s public cloud environments as of yet, do not include what they would refer to as “data protection”. There are “light backup” features built into public cloud environments such as limited file versions or the ability to “undelete” a file out of a recycle bin of sorts when they are deleted for a limited number of days.
However, neither today’s cloud providers like Google view these limited cloud backup capabilities as true data protection or backups, nor should you. Why is that? For you to have a true backup of your data, this should be a mechanism that you control and are able to define and configure. Also, backups by definition should be copies of your data “outside” the environment the data comes from.
After all, if your backups reside on the same system as the production data that it is a copy of, there is a real chance your backups will be inaccessible alongside the production copies that have been protected. This underscores the need to think about a solution that stores the cloud backup outside the public cloud that is being protected.
In fact, if you take a look at the Google G Suite Marketplace App terms of service, you will see the full burden of responsibility is on your shoulders when it comes to protecting your data.
“You are solely responsible for any compromise or loss of data that may result from using a Marketplace app.”
Ultimately, if you allow your data to be lost due to something that happens with Google and their services, third-party apps in the Marketplace or due to a security event where data is compromised, deleted, or corrupted, due to a malicious user or ransomware, it is on you to recover that data. You must have effective cloud backups to do that.
Why You Need to Think About Multi-Cloud
Most think about the term multi-cloud in the context of using services or hosting resources in multiple cloud environments. However, you need to think about multi-cloud in terms of cloud backups. If you remember what we talked about in respect to storing backups of public cloud “outside” of the system they are protecting, you need to think about cloud-to-cloud backups storing data from one cloud to another cloud.
The recent outages suffered by Google well illustrate this aspect of protecting your data. Today’s massive public cloud environments, although exponentially resilient DO experience outages from time to time. It CAN happen. This is why if you backup your public cloud data such as that stored in G Suite, your cloud backup needs to be stored in a different public cloud for resiliency purposes.
Increasing Threats to Data Require Cloud Backups
The threats to your data are increasing. There are untold numbers of possible threats and scenarios that can lead to data loss. Public cloud provider outages are only one of those threats. Threats also exist due to malicious or even non-malicious users who delete data intentionally or accidentally. Ransomware is a huge threat to your business data. It can strike suddenly and silently without being noticed.
These are problems that have plagued on-premises environments for decades. Public cloud environments are susceptible to many of the same types of data loss scenarios that affect on-premises environments and are not magically protected simply from being housed in the public cloud. Again, cloud backups are the way to effectively protect your data.
Protecting your Data in the Cloud
When I talk with clients and organizations I work with today, data protection whether on-premises or in the cloud is something I preach. The notion of indestructible data, especially in the cloud, is simply a facade that can lead to disaster scenarios. Whether it is outages that happen such as has been the case with Google in June 2019, or threats from end users or malicious attackers or software, backups are absolutely something that should not be an afterthought. If you want your business to survive in this day and age in the cloud, cloud backups are a critical component of any strategy to do that.
How can you protect your data in the cloud? Many of you are most likely migrating data to public cloud SaaS environments such as Google G Suite or Microsoft Office 365. Even though these environments are a service, do not let that fool you into thinking you are completely covered by the public cloud vendor. While they do their best to ensure the service is highly available to you no matter when you access or where you are coming from, data loss can happen. You must have cloud backups
A great solution that we have highlighted many times before on VHT is Spinbackup. Spinbackup is perhaps the best data protection solution protecting your G Suite or Office 365 environments IMHO. Spinbackup provides a “cocktail” of services that go hand in hand – backups and cybersecurity. There are many solutions out there that can simply backup your data in public cloud SaaS, however, they offer no protection against many of the threats that require backups in the first place.
Spinbackup uses machine learning and AI to protect your SaaS environments such as G Suite or Office 365 from threats such as ransomware, insider threats, risky third-party applications, and data leaks. This is in addition to protecting your environment with backups. Additionally, falling in line with what we described earlier about what an effective backup entails, Spinbackup allows storing backups in different public cloud storage than the source data.
Recently, Spinbackup added Azure storage to storage offering available for your data. This is in addition to AWS S3 and Google GCP storage. This allows you to diversify where your backup data is stored and ensures you have access to that data even if an outage is occurring in the source public cloud environment.
The recent Google outages show cloud backups are needed. As colossal and robust as the big public cloud vendors are, they still can have services affected for various reasons. Google has now had two major outages this month. Thinking about the importance of your data is key to developing a strategy to protect it. Falling in line with backup best practices, you must think about backing up your data and storing those backups outside of the public cloud being protected. No reliable backup is stored in the same environment being protected. You want those safely separated from the original source data so you have access to it when things go wrong. Having a solution that involves utilizing multi-cloud storage is key for ensuring data protection in the cloud.
Spinbackup is a great solution that I highlight in doing this as it provides the combination of features and services that you need to effectively protect your public cloud environments today. It’s not simply about backing up your data, but also includes protecting it from the very threats that may cause data loss. Spinbackup does this in a way that is different than the other solutions available on the market.
Whichever backup solution you choose, it is imperative that you (1) backup your data, (2) ensure it is stored separately from the public cloud environment you are protecting, and (3) you implement solutions to protect your data from the menacing cybersecurity threats that exist to your data today.