Cloud vs. Tape Backup: Part 1 — Mind the (air) Gap

Cloud vs. Tape BackupSince the mainframes of the 1950s, one of the most popular options for backup has been tape drives. The advent of the cloud, however, has changed the way we look at backup and disaster recovery.

When a company is considering a backup and recovery solution, security and ease of management are two of the critical decision factors. In this two-part series we’ll look at these factors to see how cloud options like backup and recovery as a service (BRaaS) are now better than the tried and true tape. First up, we’ll discuss the security concept of an air gap and how both technologies achieve it — literally or figuratively.

Tale of the tape

For as long as tape has been around, there have been a couple features it could provide that were tough to duplicate through other means. The first is that “air gap.” Just like it sounds, an air gap is an impenetrable space between you and your backed up data — in this case, your network and the tape backup.

With tape, this air gap is literal. You back your corporate data up to a tape drive, then physically ship it to the storage provider’s facility, where it sits until you need it. If, for example, you’re the victim of a cyberattack, there is no way for the bad actor to gain access to your backed up data through your network. This is a big part of tape backup’s value — the peace of mind that your archived data is truly separate from your network.

Air gap in the cloud

The traditional way of backing up data to a server used to mean that the concept of the air gap was no longer achievable. Take the simple example of a laptop on your corporate network. If that laptop is infected with a virus, it now has access to your network, and all the data on it. If you back up locally, that’s obviously a huge problem.

If you back up to the cloud, however, it’s possible to achieve the same level of security as an air gap. Backup that’s encrypted as it’s written, and then stored with object storage in a private cloud, for example, isn’t natively accessible to that laptop, or your network. It requires specialized software, and strict credentials to access. This means your data is just as safe as if it was on a tape sitting on a shelf in a warehouse. This is especially true with BRaaS solutions like KeyInfo’s, where we have our own data centers, so your data never touches the public cloud.

Basically, the “air gap” provided with private cloud and object storage is figurative, but it’s even more secure than tape’s literal gap. So, keep the gap, lose the tape.

In Part 2, we’ll look at how the cloud is winning over tape when it comes to managing the backup process.

To learn more about how Key Information Systems’ fully managed backup and recovery solution can help your business, click here.


Drew Woods
Senior Marketing Communications Manager
Key Information Systems