Any organization embarking upon an IT modernization effort - be it for an XP upgrade, an infrastructure consolidation after an acquisition, or a legacy system swap-out - must factor storage into the equation. Specifically, the introduction of big data analytics and mobile applications are increasing the need for more, and more flexible, processing power and storage capacity.
While there are new storage technologies that can deliver high-speed access to large amounts of data, many companies are moving away from the burden of maintaining the physical data center and, instead, are migrating applications and storage into the cloud.
While it may feel like a risk to transfer company data off-premise, cloud storage can actually be more accessible, reliable, and secure than managing in-house storage servers. It also may be much more affordable. Here are several options, as defined by Webopedia:
Public Cloud Storage: The enterprise and storage server provider are separate and data is stored outside of the enterprise's data center. In this external cloud setup, businesses offload data storage, archiving and backup to a third-party service provider, freeing them from the costs associated with purchasing on-premise hardware and software.
Private Cloud Storage: Enterprise data and cloud storage resources both reside behind the firewall within the enterprise's data center. Because the cloud services are located within the data center, there are maintenance costs associated with providing space, network connectivity, power and cooling. However, this solution is very secure and offers the same benefits of the public cloud, including scalability and the option for it to be managed by a third party.
Hybrid Cloud Storage: A combination of public and private cloud services in which mission-critical data resides within the enterprise's private cloud while other data is stored and accessible within the public cloud.
When it comes time to choose a cloud storage provider and a migration strategy, sometimes you need not look beyond your trusted technology partner, be it Dell, HP, or IBM, all of which offer a full menu of cloud-based services. There are also public cloud services available from Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon S3.
Of course, while many enterprise companies are becoming more comfortable with cloud-based services, it is always smart to ask a few key questions before handing over the keys to the data storage kingdom.
Make sure you understand the level of access the service provider has, where the encryption keys are stored, and that you have control over the visibility of your information - such as user authentication for departments vs. enterprise-wide access.
Also, know the terms of the agreement. Is there anything in there that gives the provider the right to copy your data without your knowledge? In addition, carefully consider the fee structure. New charges can pile up if storage thresholds are broken.
Lastly, ask the provider what security protocols are in place from Secure Sockets Layer to Secure Shell, as well as what protocols are used for password encryption. If there were to be a security breach, make sure you understand who would be responsible. Also take care to learn the procedures to get your data back should you ever decide to terminate the contract with the provider. And take into consideration that your cloud service provider could go out of business. Always have a backup plan for your backup plan!
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