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AWS Backup service targets native workloads

AWS Backup gives customers management and orchestration tools to simplify snapshots for a variety of Amazon services. The move follows AWS' acquisition of migration and backup vendor CloudEndure.

The latest Amazon service may suit customers and prospects, but it could rankle third-party backup vendors that currently fill functional gaps on the AWS cloud.

AWS customers already have the ability to back up various native workloads through built-in snapshot tools, but the process is manual and disjointed. The AWS Backup service gives customers a way to handle backup management and automation through a centralized console.

AWS Backup adds more capabilities to AWS' previous snapshot tools and can back up Elastic Block Store and Elastic File System (EFS) volumes, Relational Database Service instances, DynamoDB tables and Storage Gateway volumes to Amazon S3.

There's also support for customers who want to store especially cold data in the Amazon Glacier archive service. In addition, with Storage Gateway volumes, customers can back up on-premises data stores to S3. AWS said in a blog post it will support more of its workloads and services in AWS Backup over time. 

The AWS Backup service's rules-based framework specifies how it schedules jobs. Users can also set lifecycle policies to determine storage tiers and when old backups should expire.

The service is available now and at no additional cost over what AWS charges for backups in its built-in snapshot capabilities, although EFS volumes do incur per-gigabyte charges for warm and cold storage.

Despite the new service's name, customers should understand its limitations.  

"It's an enhancement to what they already did," said Jerry Rozeman, an analyst at Gartner. "There are no new data transport methods."

AWS partners such as Commvault and Veeam offer richer backup services to handle a mix of workloads that span multiple clouds and on-premises locations. "That's different than native AWS snapshot management," Rozeman said. "[AWS Backup] is mainly interesting for customers who are already on AWS, prefer native capabilities and already use snapshots."

While partner products go deeper than the AWS Backup service does today, it will be fairly easy for AWS to add features over time, though the ultimate goal is unclear, Rozeman said.

Dedicated backup vendors see customers move assets to the cloud, but also keep others on premises. They use multiple IaaS providers and also have SaaS in the mix.

You want to meet the requirements of backing your stuff up with the minimal amount of effort.
Grant KirkwoodCTO, Unitas Global

"All those services still need some kind of protection," Rozeman said.

In backup, the actual innovation is to protect all those data sets and make this data mobile, he said.

That isn't the goal of AWS Backup. Rather, the goal is to deliver more convenience for customers, said Grant Kirkwood, CTO at Unitas Global, a hybrid cloud management services company based in Los Angeles. The ability to do backups across AWS is already ubiquitous, but it must be done independently, with different standards and processes across the services, he said.

Grant Kirkwood, CTO, Unitas GlobalGrant Kirkwood

AWS Backup service, in contrast, is a big "easy button," Kirkwood said. "You give up a little bit of granular control, but you get stuff done faster. Having it all in one place makes it easier from a compliance standpoint, too."

It also applies normal rigor of backup processes to developers' toolchains, particularly those developing cloud-native apps on AWS, Kirkwood added. "You want to meet the requirements of backing your stuff up with the minimal amount of effort."

Another thing to watch is how AWS aligns Backup with the capabilities it gained from the recent acquisition of CloudEndure, a data migration, backup and disaster recovery vendor. Overall, it seems clear that AWS wants a bigger piece of the market for these capabilities.

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