Understanding Cloud Storage

Cloud data storage is a critical part of your data infrastructure. That’s because how and where you decide to store your data determines which analytics and processing tools you’ll have access to, how secure your data will be, and how quickly your team can access their information.

Deciding which cloud platform to use and figuring out how to migrate your data to it and store your data on it can be a difficult (and time consuming) process. In this article, we’ll help you understand how cloud storage works, why it’s essential for businesses today, and help you make the case for moving your data to the cloud in order to stay competitive.

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Data storage in the “dark ages”

Before the rise of cloud computing, companies and organizations relied completely on local or on-premises data storage solutions. In this scenario, each company built and maintained its own server infrastructure and stored all of its own data in an onsite location. On-premises storage solutions earned a reputation for delivering superior data privacy and security, but they were expensive to build and maintain and difficult to scale.

Companies found themselves constantly investing in hardware upgrades and capacity expansions in order to store and process the growing amount of available data. With the introduction of the internet 2.0, the arrival of mobile computing, and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), companies found it increasingly difficult — and expensive — to meet their own data storage needs.

Why cloud data storage is an enterprise imperative

Even though some companies continue to rely on on-premises solutions to store their data, there is a strong trend toward cloud-native solutions. Even businesses that maintain their own local servers (for a number of reasons) often create hybrid storage solutions that combine the benefits of on-site systems with cloud computing.

Here’s how common cloud data storage is becoming:

  • Market research firm Forrester predicts that the market for cloud services will jump from $145 billion in 2017 to $178 billion in 2018
  • Forrester forecasts a continuing annual growth rate in cloud services of 22%
  • By the end of 2018, Forrester predicts that 50% of global enterprises will depend on at least one cloud platform
  • By the year 2022, the US cloud storage market is expected to leap from 25B to 92B annually. That’s an annual growth rate of almost 30%!

What’s driving such rapid expansion of the cloud storage market? Data, and lots of it.

Driven by data

We now have an infinite capacity to generate and analyze data. Currently, the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. As technology continues to advance, that number will grow. (By the way, a quintillion is a lot of data. That’s as much data as can be stored on 10 million Blue-Ray discs.)

Consider some of the sources of data available today: computers, mobile devices, eCommerce transactions, social media, online activity, and IoT. Companies and organizations of all types have access to more data today than ever before. In fact, the amount of data being generated is outpacing storage capacity for many businesses.

That’s why cloud data storage is so critical for business success. Companies that lack the capacity to capture, store, and process data will inevitably lose their competitive edge. That means flawed business intelligence, failure to innovate, and lost revenue.

Cloud storage and business 

Most of us have a general sense that cloud storage can make life a lot easier for our companies. But how does storing data in the cloud help us stay competitive? The long and short of it comes down to this: money. Cloud storage helps companies control costs, boost productivity, and increase profitability.

Cost Savings & Scalability

On-premises servers are expensive to maintain, upgrade, and replace. Cloud providers allow companies to rent only the storage capacity they need and avoid pricey investments in on-premises servers or other types of physical infrastructure. Because cloud storage options are fully scalable, companies don’t have to worry about reaching capacity. They simply change their data storage plan to accommodate changes in their storage needs. Therefore, cloud storage is both economical and efficient.

Productivity

Cloud storage allows users to access data from anywhere, at any time. That puts important information and files at users’ fingertips whenever they have an internet connection. Users can collaborate in real time and enjoy access to the most current information. This degree of accessibility makes it easy for team members to work together across time zones and from anywhere in the world. Greater access translates to greater productivity.

Security and compliance

One of the biggest concerns for companies considering a move to cloud storage is security. Some companies are reluctant to move their data into the cloud for fear that doing so makes their data more vulnerable. This isn’t necessarily the case. That’s because cloud service providers know that their reputations (and business) depend on their ability to keep your data safe. Cloud storage also offers two additional, security-related advantages:

Backup: When data is stored exclusively in an on-premises environment, it’s susceptible to loss due to equipment failure and natural disaster. Cloud storage ensures that your data is backed up, usually in multiple locations, to prevent this kind of catastrophic failure.

Compliance: Cloud storage solutions can automate and streamline compliance efforts. This improves efficiency since compliance efforts won’t have to be duplicated, managed onsite, or manually reconfigured as laws and regulations change.

Speed

Access to data has to happen at the speed of your business. That means being able to access the most current, up-to-date data in an instant. From anywhere, on virtually any device, at any time of day. The advantage cloud storage offers with regard to data speed is straightforward. Data is often stored in systems which rely on multiple servers. More servers processing data translates into higher delivery speeds and shorter lag times. For businesses today, a few seconds can make the difference between a good decision and a bad one.

3 cloud storage strategies  

If you’ve decided that it’s time to move beyond an on-premises data storage solution, the good news is that the transition doesn’t have to be difficult, sudden, or dramatic. One of the first objections to cloud storage that many of us hear is the fear of disruption. But that’s a challenge that the cloud has already solved.

No two companies are alike, so a range of cloud storage options have evolved to meet a variety of needs. We’ll consider some specific cloud solutions below, but first it’s helpful to look at the three distinct approaches to cloud storage and their benefits.

Cloud

Of the three, cloud (or total cloud) is the most straightforward. In this scenario, a company stores all of its data on remote servers owned by a third party provider. These servers may be public (shared with data from other companies) or private (in which only one company’s data is stored.) Of the two, public cloud storage requires less internal maintenance and oversight than private cloud options.

Hybrid cloud

In a hybrid cloud environment, companies combine their use of on-premises servers with cloud-native data storage. This allows the company to take advantage of cloud storage and computing capabilities while retaining some data on their own servers. For example, a business may upload data related to customer behavior to Google BigQuery for analysis while retaining credit card transaction information locally.

Hybrid cloud solutions are popular because of their versatility. Companies can configure hybrid solutions to balance storage and analytics needs with data privacy and compliance regulations.

Multi-cloud

Sometimes confused with hybrid cloud, a multi-cloud approach relies on more than one cloud service provider. Companies who choose this option use multiple cloud storage platforms strategically. For example, a company may store some data with AWS in order to take advantage of its machine learning features, but may prefer Microsoft Azure for data analysis.

In multi-cloud scenarios, data from different environments does not intermingle. Processes are separated in order to take advantage of each platform’s unique benefits.

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Fastest path to cloud storage

If you’ve decided that it’s time to move your data to a cloud storage solution, the next step will be to plan your data migration. Moving data from local or on-premises servers doesn’t have to be complicated, risky, or expensive. Data integration tools provide an easy path to storing your data in the cloud that avoids the complicated and time-intensive process of hand coding your migration.

Talend Cloud provides data integration tools that can automate much of the cloud migration process, and offers industry-leading data quality and data governance capabilities built right in. Try out a free trial today.

| Last Updated: August 7th, 2019