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Infrastructure Modernization

A guide to data protection offerings in Google Cloud

March 8, 2021
Chris Schilling

Outbound Product Manager, Storage

Cloud adoption has become a team sport. It started as an exciting effort led by forward-thinking developers, and it has turned into a global IT directive across countries and industries. Whether their goal is to migrate SAP workloads or to build next-generation analytics, thousands of technologists are learning how to work together to accelerate the shift to cloud platforms. 

Data protection experts have a vital role to play in this team effort. Fortunately, backup and storage administrators have multiple tools to safeguard their organization’s data during and after cloud migration. Here at Google Cloud, we recognize the RTO, RPO, and internal compliance requirements that administrators need to meet during these migrations. We also have heard two additional key requirements to enable team-wide adoption of cloud-based backup.

The first is a demand for multi-region backup storage. Backup administrators are familiar with compliance requirements to keep secondary copies of their data in a different region from production data, sometimes at a prescribed minimum distance like 1000 kilometers or 500 miles. Equally familiar is the 3-2-1 rule that advises to keep three copies of data, two backup copies on different media, and one backup copy offsite. 

The second is the need for better performance at the price of cold storage. As organizations look to migrate global, mission-critical applications, storage administrators must be able to meet unpredictable auditor and operational demands to recover from a backup quickly. At the same time, those administrators are responsible for managing costs associated with long-term retention - not all data can be kept warm.

Google Cloud Storage was architected to address these two common administrator needs - for multi-region storage and for performant, low-latency cold storage - and to ensure conventional RTO, RPO, and compliance requirements can easily be met. All of this facilitates team-wide adoption of cloud storage for backup use cases. 

We also have a number of offerings to allow our customers to architect a data protection strategy that meets their compliance and operational requirements. For backup and storage administrators engaged in the team effort of cloud migration, we’ve provided a brief description of some of them below.

Persistent Disk Snapshots: Backup for Google Compute Engine Workloads

Google Cloud provides Persistent Disk snapshots for workloads running on Compute Engine or Google Kubernetes Engine. Persistent Disk snapshots are an easy way of taking a regular, crash-consistent backup, with predictable RTO and RPO performance akin to warm on-premises backup storage. Compute Engine snapshots are incremental-forever and priced based on storage size.

Persistent Disk snapshots are also stored in multi-region storage (e.g., eu or us) by default, at no additional cost, with the option to restore to any Google Cloud region contained within. 

For customers that demand very low RTO, one option is to make certain snapshots available locally, in the preferred recovery region. This trades some of the resiliency associated with multi-region storage in favor of faster restore performance in the single preferred recovery region, as well as easier compliance with data sovereignty requirements. 

Persistent Disk snapshots can be orchestrated via the Google Cloud Console, our API, or our CLI. Additionally, you can create a snapshot schedule to automate regular snapshots at hourly, daily, or weekly intervals, with custom retention policies. And for additional protection against downtime, customers can choose to architect their production applications for high availability using regional Persistent Disk.

We look forward to sharing more news on Persistent Disk and Persistent Disk snapshots in future blog posts. 

Google’s Cloud SQL: Simple Backup for Managed Databases

For customers using Cloud SQL, our managed database service, Google Cloud offers two options for data protection. The first is fully automated, application-consistent and incremental-forever backup, along with point-in-time recovery. These automated backups are turned on by default, with a retention period of seven days.

The second option is for on-demand backups. This allows an administrator to take a separate full backup with a different retention period from any automated backups.

Both options are stored in multiple Google Cloud regions to ensure a redundant backup copy is preserved. Just like Persistent Disk snapshots, these Cloud SQL backups can be restored either in the same region as the production database or in the secondary region. You also have the option to restrict the location of your backups to a specific region to meet data residency or other compliance requirements.

Actifio GO and Google Cloud Data Protection

For organizations interested in a first-party backup solution that backs data up to Cloud Storage, Actifio GO is available on Google Cloud. Actifio GO can be configured to protect your in-cloud applications running on Compute Engine and Google Cloud VMware Engine, including popular ‘lift and shift’ enterprise databases such as Oracle and SAP HANA. Administrators that use Actifio GO will be able to provide incremental-forever, application-consistent backup while orchestrating and automating their in-cloud backups via one centralized console. They will also be able to select from a range of storage options, including Persistent Disk for fast snapshot restores, Cloud Storage buckets in multiple regions for compliance purposes, and low-cost, performant cold storage for long-term archival.

Additionally, Actifio GO can be deployed as a hybrid, SaaS backup solution. This architecture backs up on-premises VMs and databases to a snapshot pool locally, migrating backups to Cloud Storage for longer term retention. That enables lower-cost business continuity by allowing administrators to restore those backups inside Google Cloud in case of a disaster. For storage professionals asked to retire secondary data centers or on-premises secondary storage, Actifio GO can be a more direct route to the cloud.

Actifio GO is available in the Google Cloud Marketplace today. For more information about Actifio GO, contact your Google Cloud sales representative.

Using Google Cloud Storage with Our Partners’ Backup Solutions

During the first stages of cloud migration, some organizations may prioritize secondary workloads, such as backup or disaster recovery copies. These workloads make ideal candidates for low-friction cloud adoption, as they can be migrated from on-premises to cloud storage without impacting production applications. 

Many storage and backup administrators are already aware of how backup and recovery companies enable tiering cold backups to Cloud Storage. Administrators that use one of our backup and recovery partners, like Commvault, can take advantage of our multi-region and performant cold storage to meet key compliance requirements, like retaining an off-site backup copy for auditors or preserving a backup copy in multiple geographic regions. In recent months, partners like Veeam have enhanced their support for Google Cloud workloads and for Cloud Storage as an archival target. 

Storage administrators may also be interested in backup and data migration options from established enterprise vendors like NetApp and Dell. These vendors have partnered with Google Cloud to create simple cloud solutions for storage administrators that know their products well.

Backup Alternative: Export Archival Data to Google’s Cloud Storage

Storage administrators accustomed to on-premises workloads understand that there are a range of options, beyond full-fledged backup, to preserve additional copies of their data for compliance purposes. Google Cloud also enables you to perform backup exports, either exporting Persistent Disk data as a custom image or, alternately, exporting a Cloud SQL database as a CSV. 

These exported images and CSVs can be moved to Cloud Storage to be shared across projects or to be archived at a low cost. Just as it is possible to export this data to object storage, it is also possible to import it and recreate a VM or database. 

To learn more about exporting images for archival, please see the documentation for Compute Engine and Cloud SQL.


Storage and backup administrators have a key role to play in cloud adoption. Google Cloud has developed a number of data protection offerings to help administrators excel in their role and meet operational and compliance requirements. Underpinning each of these is a cloud storage architecture designed to make it easier and cheaper to store backup data in multiple regions, and built to provide great price-to-performance for long-term data retention. 

For more information on Google Cloud’s storage options, please visit our storage products page, or sign up for a free trial and receive a $300 credit today.
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