There’s an ongoing rush to the cloud, and companies are bombarded by the promise of cheap storage with quality security. This is growth that is not going to stop soon, with IDC anticipating a global market size of $72.9 million for public cloud computing in 2015.
Despite all the buzz, the public cloud does have its limitations, and companies shouldn’t quite yet put all of their data eggs into the public cloud basket. However, there are several positives to cloud storage as well that should not be overlooked. These include the following:
- The price is right. The cost of cloud storage is low and continues to drop year over year. In 2014, Amazon dropped its AWS pricing by up to 22 percent, and Microsoft quickly followed with a price match. Companies can now store massive amounts of information at relatively low cost. But be sure you look at all the terms carefully, especially when signing lengthier contracts.
- Ease of accessibility. For a mobile workforce, the ease of grabbing cloud-based data is readily apparent. Workers only need an internet connection and they can quickly find the files they need so they can work more efficiently and meet customer requests in real time.
- Less work for IT. Compared to on-premises storage options, cloud storage is simple to manage. IT simply needs to protect password information and offer guidelines on what type of data is suitable for the cloud. A reduction in time needed to manage the cloud means IT can focus on other tasks to help grow revenues.
- Scaling up is simple. Adding capacity for cloud storage can be done with a few clicks. The cloud provider simply allocates more space, and you are good to go. On-premise storage has physical limitations, so you need actual hardware to boost capacity.
There’s more than one side to most situations, and cloud storage is no exception. Here are several limitations and concerns about the public cloud that companies should understand before establishing data storage plans:
- Back up the backups. Cloud storage is ideal as a backup, but it shouldn’t be the only place data resides. Consider using multiple cloud services at once as well as some physical storage in order to be fully protected. You can’t rely on the public cloud alone.
- Who holds responsibility? Most cloud providers are not responsible if data is lost, so companies should be sure they have redundancies in place as a hedge against massive losses. And cloud providers might not always be forthcoming with information. A study titled, “Data Breach: The Cloud Multiplier Effect,” reported that 71 percent of respondents believe their cloud provider would not immediately notify them in the case of lost or stolen data. This is a good reason to choose larger, more established cloud providers.
- Public clouds are risky. Companies should keep their most sensitive or confidential data out of the public cloud. Use a private cloud to keep away other tenants, which can expose you to hacking vulnerabilities and other issues. Another issue with most public cloud providers is that they offer a do-it-yourself model. They’re simply a service, and you need to figure out how to use it properly, because they won’t be able to fix any of your mistakes. Once the data is out of your hands and in the cloud, it’s essentially under another company’s control. So be sure your chosen provider has reputable safeguards.
- Enough bandwidth to go around? Slower bandwidth connections are slowing down some companies’ adoption of the cloud. Reduced bandwidth is a considerable concern for firms that work with very large files and need on-call access to information. Another concern is the possibility for downtime. Weigh the business costs of a five-hour downtime period, for example, versus the savings found with the cheaper cloud solution.
Despite the advances of the cloud, most companies will find a hybrid solution is best. Using the cloud as a convenient and cost-effective backup, but keeping out the most private data offers flexibility with lowered risk. A mix of private clouds, public clouds, and on-premise storage provides the best combination of security, redundancy, and the ability to scale when business takes off.
David Zimmerman is CEO of LC Technology International. He has been in the hardware/software industry for over 30 years and in the data recovery software market for 18 years. Founded in 1997, LC Technology is based in Clearwater, Florida.
Subscribe to Data Informed for the latest information and news on big data and analytics for the enterprise.