This article originally appeared in Cloud Computing Magazine Q4 2012
The amount of data and information enterprises are generating continues to grow at a truly staggering rate. Yet it seems very few companies are truly prepared to manage, store and protect it properly. Data is created through a wide array of devices and is distributed across numerous systems, locations, and geographies, so getting a handle on it can prove challenging.
With all of this happening in the background, the question is – how can businesses store, protect and manage data efficiently while reaping the business benefits? In truth, the traditional onsite data storage solutions coupled with conventional, offsite backup storage is no longer the practical answer for many. In addition to being extremely costly, enterprises need solutions that are scalable and can easily, and economically, grow as the quantity of data grows.
Enter the cloud.
Historically vendors have focussed on the service enabling side of cloud. However, according to analysts at the 451 Group, cloud-based storage will soon play the starring role in cloud development – and I for one agree.
The consumerization of IT, for example, has played a huge role in managing and storing enterprise data. With the exponential rise of unstructured content and the growing need for access to data from any location, there is now a huge demand for device and location independence. Smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly ubiquitous and are enabling a more mobile workforce. For companies to keep up with this trend they need to adopt solutions that support the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies of today.
As demand grows it becomes more and more evident there has been a significant rise in storage technologies that are location independent. Indeed, many technology providers have brought more mature, scalable and reliable solutions to the market. So why is the cloud yet to become the obvious choice and replacement for traditional block-orientated local storage, or to enhance backup storage requirements?
For business owners and IT decision makers, increasing storage needs have long posed a headache. There have been too few options and not enough reasons to continue to make the case for more budget. Nowadays companies need not worry about the considerable expense of traditional storage. There are a number of opportunities and benefits to storage in the cloud that IT departments can use to build a strong case to present to decision makers. The cost savings alone can be a key influencer for adoption but there are a lot more benefits beyond cash savings:
- Secure data back-up and recovery
- Remote and secure storage archiving
- Mobile file sharing and multiple device access
- Scalable, on-demand growth
But despite all of the benefits of cloud storage, I am also a realist when it comes to the requirements and challenges of the enterprise. Regardless of the hype or the real value, many enterprises are still hesitant to embrace cloud technologies for a variety of reasons ranging from existing investment and expertise, to concerns around security and compliance. Therefore, my recommendation is that enterprises view cloud storage as a piece of their overall enterprise storage strategy – essentially meaning adopting a hybrid storage solution. By “hybrid storage” I mean what many would call a disk to cloud storage solution or, for an ideal backup storage solution, disk to disk to cloud. This means enterprises continue to utilize existing onsite or hosted physical storage solution investments and then connect to a cloud storage solution for additional flexibility, scalability and backup and recovery options.
I believe that cloud storage, just like the cloud, is here to stay. The flexibility and scalability it offers companies brings an abundance of advantages including cost savings and efficiency of scale. Of course, just like the cloud, it’s not for everyone. However, with the multitude of offerings available in the market at the moment and the emergence of new technologies such as the hybrid cloud, mark my words – there will soon be a cloud (and cloud storage) for everyone.
Edited by Brooke Neuman