Cloud Migration Steps: Phase 1 – Database Backup

MarkBurgessMark Burgess  |  

A well-executed cloud migration project starts with migrating data to a cloud platform. The quickest and easiest way to do this is by using existing database backup technologies to write backups to cloud storage.

The ideal scenario is to execute a cloud strategy with minimal risk and change to your existing critical systems. Therefore, setting up a cloud-based DR environment isn’t ideal as a first step.

A DR environment automatically commissions the cloud environment as part of the production landscape with the associated operational requirements.

This introduces additional dependencies at the early stage of your cloud journey that your business may not be ready to commit to yet.

Adopting cloud backups for databases also requires early consideration of the technical, security and compliance issues that come along with relocation of data outside of the corporate data centre.

Cloud Migration Security

Security policy and design decisions must be made during the cloud migration step of the cloud journey. This ensures that policies and design are in place up-front to address the security and compliance issues associated with organisations data being stored outside the corporate network.

Data sovereignty issues come into play if your backups are to be stored outside the countries border.

Database encryption issues come into play if your databases contains sensitive data that can not be accessed by unauthorised users. Keep in mind that storing your database backups on encrypted storage does not mean that the database itself is encrypted.

Cloud security policies need to be defined and implemented to ensure that appropriate authorisation and access controls are in place prior to the backups being stored on a cloud service. This requires IT teams to be familiar with the security controls specific to the cloud platform being adopted.

While cloud database backups can technically be straightforward – the prerequisites mean critical security issues need to be addressed in very early phases of the cloud journey.

Cloud Migration Technology

Before implementing database BaaS you need to consider these fundamental technical requirements as they can have a large impact on future cloud adoption success:

  • Network connectivity
  • Optimising operational procedures

Public cloud network connectivity – bandwidth, latency, resilience and cost – is one of the most critical technology components in a hybrid cloud deployment.

There are many options to consider when connecting on-premise database platforms to public cloud services. Establishing cloud network connectivity that supports database backup requirements will go a long way to supporting additional hybrid cloud workloads as further cloud services are adopted.

There are certain operational procedures which need to considered carefully. Ensure that you review backup strategies such as incremental backup and using backup compression before implementation.

Adopting a cloud strategy requires consideration of factors which may not be required for purely on-premise environments as they have a potential performance and cost impact.

Adopting an incremental and compressed database backup strategy can potentially reduce the backup size (and workload on your on-premise systems) and associated network bandwidth requirements. Both can significantly reduce the storage and any data ingress/egress costs for the cloud services.

While this might seem insignificant in the overall scheme of things – one important element is that considering these factors requires the IT team to view resource consumption with a cloud mindset. Small items that may not be considered in an on-premise environment can introduce additional cost and overhead in a hybrid or pure cloud environment.

Cloud Migration Economics

Database backup to cloud services requires consideration of costs that may not have been necessary for an on-premise system. Provisioning and consumption in an on-premise environment can be compared to an all you can eat buffet. You pay once, eat as much as you want from what is available, and if there is any leftover it does not cost you anything more.

Taking the same approach on a cloud platform could prove to be very expensive – particularly when higher tier cloud services other than backup are involved.

Implementing cloud backup as the first phase of the journey provides an opportunity to train IT teams to be cost conscious in approaches to adopting and managing cloud services. Changes in behaviours, procedures and approaches may need to be taken to ensure that there are no bill shocks.

Making the required changes when implementing cloud backups provides an opportunity to get things right – with low risk of cost overruns given that cloud storage is one of the cheapest cloud services.


The final reason database BaaS adoption is the first phase of the cloud journey is that it is relatively easy to adopt and deliver real benefits with little effort.

Both Oracle via the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Storage Software Appliance and AWS via the AWS Storage Gateway provide on-premise storage appliances that interface directly to their cloud storage services.

These appliances can be downloaded and deployed as virtual machines into on-premise corporate data centre networks and they provide standard interfaces and protocols that work with the majority of database and file backup solutions.

These appliances provide a way to store database backups on the cloud with minimal changes to existing infrastructure. They also have simple browser-based interfaces that don’t require a large investment in training for use.

They have low barriers to entry as they can be deployed without the need to programme complex cloud service API calls or learn command line utilities to push database backups to cloud storage.

Next Steps 

Once you have established your cloud backup capability there are many options available to add value.

A common approach is to use data archiving and versioning capabilities of cloud storage for long term backup purposes. Or you can provision test and development database environments from the database backups.

Adopting the above approach makes it very easy to establish your database environments in the cloud.  It will also make it easier to update them as and when required with the latest changes from your production systems.

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