The rapid growth of data storage resides at the merger of two concepts: disaster recovery and cost effectiveness. The clear superiority of cloud solutions over in-house storage in the increasingly essential element of disaster recovery fuels the accelerating migration into the cloud. The low cost of off-site computing relative to the capital expenditure of building your own solution adds speed to the conversion rate.
Customer data safety is paramount, and disaster recovery has become the foundation of any service’s claim to ultimate security. On top of all the measures data centers can provide – multiple redundant network providers, extensive physical security, redundant power and generator backup, fire suppression, automated backup systems, on-site spare parts, and 24/7 monitoring – DR techniques like remote replication offer peace of mind for a “when all else fails” scenario, like a natural catastrophe.
Properly protecting data on your own requires not only a significant outlay in capital expenditure, but also requires an organization to have a strong competency in business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR), the latter of which many organizations lack. With cloud storage, the service provider spreads the cost of their robust infrastructure across many customers, and their level of BC/DR expertise will in all likelihood exceed that of your own IT staff – who have plenty of other tasks to monitor and complete.
On top of having BC/DR strategies in place, there’s also the matter of staying online as much as possible in the first place. The worst thing that can happen – whether you are hosting on-premise or off-premise – is to have your servers go down. You risk losing valuable customer data, revenue, and your reputation. Service providers prevent downtime via redundant components, clustering, auxiliary power, appropriate spares, backup data stores, and hot restart facilities.
Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will find that replicating such an environment is cost-prohibitive. Even large companies will find it more economical to utilize a third party.
Cloud storage provider TwinStrata’s (News - Alert) 2012 survey of Cloud Computing Expo attendees showed that 72 percent of cloud storage users estimate they could recover their data within 24 hours, while 12 percent of those which do not use cloud storage say it would take more than a week to recover data in the event of a disaster.
The compliance requirements on many industries influence the growth of data storage figures, as saving data for extended periods of time becomes essential to avoiding legal liability issues. It’s not simply the case that companies that fail to protect their data face legal issues; companies that don’t save enough data for enough time can face serious fines.
State laws govern how long medical records should be kept, and vary somewhat. The standard recommended by The Doctors Company, a malpractice insurance firm, is that adult records be kept 10 years from the date the patient was last seen, and deceased patients’ information be stored five years from the date of death.
So, despite the amount and cost of data storage both soaring, the price of destroying data to save space may be higher than continuing to store it: Original records are crucial for proving or defending your argument in legal trials; if the record of the interaction in question is gone, a company’s case can be undercut.
The cost-saving arguments for moving to service providers go beyond issues of compliance and BC/DR. Capacity and scalability are a great example.
One of the major issues with traditional storage networks is that IT admins must either under- or overestimate the organization’s needs; this leaves the chance of either storage shortages or a glut of unused shortage.
At least this was the traditional way of storing data. The entrance of cloud storage has changed the game a bit. Unlike hardware you’ve purchased yourself, cloud storage space can be increased or decreased without a major hassle or expense.
Meeting additional storage needs is virtually instantaneous in that the storage capacity in the cloud is unlimited and immediately available. This is a tremendous advantage for those organizations whose business has seasonality to it as cloud storage allows for “bursting” during those peak times. Similarly, excess space that you no longer wish to pay for can be surrendered in a similar timeframe.
When juxtaposed with traditional models – where companies spend significant CAPEX outlays for storage that initially has excess capacity, fill that space, then required another major purchase – the advantage of cloud storage is clear: pay as you go, and only pay for the storage you consume.
Jim Potter is vice president of product at Hostway (News - Alert).
Edited by Alisen Downey