The Complete Guide to Selecting Cloud Storage for Your Business
Imagine the repercussions if your if data was compromised. Stolen, lost, or damaged data has the potential to negatively impact your organization, reputation, and bottom line. Without access to useful, valuable data, how would you respond to customer demands, improve operations, and move quickly to market with the right products?
Knowing that data is the lifeblood of their business, rising numbers of organizations are turning to cloud data storage to keep their data secure and accessible. However, choosing the right cloud storage for your business can be a difficult and time-consuming process.
To help you make the right choice, this guide looks at five of the top cloud storage providers for any business, chases away a common concern about cloud data security, reveals the secret to effective cloud storage, and helps you take the all-important first step toward ensuring you have the data you need when you need it.
Top 5 cloud storage solutions for any business
Amazon Web Services Cloud Storage (S3)
For customers of all sizes, easy-to-use Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 stores and protects data for a wide range of use cases. Amazon S3 is designed to ensure that data is never lost, and integrity tests are regularly run. If you already use one or more AWS platforms, S3 is the easiest way to store cloud data.
Amazon Web Services are one of the original pioneers of storing cloud data and are a permanent structure in the business. With access and availability worldwide, S3 allows you to store and retrieve any amount of data across the globe. It is designed to accommodate almost any kind of data or application, and is quick to implement.
On the other hand, pricing for S3 is very complex. Prices scale with usage, which can be affordable, but it can quickly become expensive as there are charges for individual transactions as well as storage. There is also a charge for a “AWS Support Plan” for any major help needed. Although S3 supports desktop functionality, it does rely on third-party applications to do so.
Azure Cloud Storage
Microsoft’s Azure Storage is massively scalable and features secure storage designed for structured and unstructured data. Azure is known for its flexible blob storage types.
A variety of storage classes helps you control costs — low-cost storage for data you rarely access is available. Azure also features secure, powerful file sharing for large, enterprise workloads and easy to use data warehousing tools. Azure is very useful for capturing very large data sets, and it is designed more than any of the other platform to protect data.
Google Cloud is ideal for developers and enterprises. It offers high performance, durability, reliability, and pricing for a wide range of unified-object storage needs. Google Cloud also integrates well with other Google products.
Google Cloud can easily integrate storage into mobile applications using a single, unified application programming interface (API). The platform’s four storage classes allow for price and performance optimization. Additionally, users have, instant access to data from all classes, and assurance that company data will never be lost.
However, downloading from Google can be expensive. Unexpected costs can crop up from the complex pricing structures offered, and the monthly support fee is quite high. The Google Cloud UI can also be confusing to navigate.
Snowflake is an attractive, data warehousing solution at reasonable prices. It is known for its speed and multi-cluster architecture. Snowflake also supports many well-known data formats, such as Avro, JSON, Parquet, XML, and ORC.
Snowflake’s architecture is designed to take advantage of cloud benefits. It uses standard SQL query language, as do most organizations, so retraining teams isn’t necessary. The interface is fairly easy to navigate. When demand is high, instant data warehouse scaling manages to bypass information bottlenecks.
On the other hand, Snowflake is not a software that you can run in your own data center or cloud virtual private cloud (VPC) . Additionally, it is not the best option when using Tableau, the analytics software.
Cloudera is a very stable and versatile Hadoop storage management platform. It is designed to natively combine storage, processing, and exploration. Its Hadoop-based analytics allows you to leverage your data as well.
Cloudera is easy to deploy, great for managing and analyzing large amounts of analytics data. It also features a strong customer support team. Cloudera’s interface is also quite user-friendly.
Unfortunately, using some of the more advanced features in Cloudera to the fullest capability requires in-depth data management experience. Additionally, it also exhibits slower platform performance compared to competitors.
Best cloud storage solution for small businesses
For small businesses, cloud storage solutions can be quite affordable. Since the amount of stored data and number of employees accessing it are small, choosing a cloud storage platform that suits your needs can be more challenging. Most cloud services offer comparative prices for lower tiers of storage, but when more storage is needed, pricing can become more complicated.
Some services offer significant discounts based on factors such as a time commitment or paying upfront. Discounts offered by AWS S3 are called reserved instances (RI), and can be redeemed at a rate ranging from 25-75%. Azure offers discounts as well, primarily through the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. However, spending more to achieve the discounts may not be a cost-effective approach for a small business. A solution to that may be cost-effective, however, is the Google Cloud Platform, which offers discounts primarily through usage. The higher the usage, the higher the discount, which maxes out at 30%.
Beware however, that some cloud platforms include services that a small business may not need. Azure, for instance, includes charges for a solid-state drive (SSD) in every tier of service it offers. Other services, such as Google Cloud, do not automatically charge for an SSD, but instead offer it as a separate fee if a business needs it. That said, the smallest SSD option offered is still quite large when compared to a small business’s typical need for it.
Business cloud storage and security
If you’re feeling concerned that storing data on the cloud is less secure than storing it on-premises, you’re not alone! You’ve likely heard rumors about cloud security, ranging from “the cloud is not secure” to “the cloud will make complying with data protection more difficult.” Do not allow these myths to prevent you from securing your business-critical information.
Trusted cloud storage providers take the security of customer data very seriously. They use proven security measures such as authentication, access control, and encryption to keep intruders from accessing your data. Reputable cloud storage companies also work with multiple IT experts dedicated to keeping your data secure. This is not necessarily the case with companies that store their data on-premises, where information is accessible to employees who may not have the skills required to safeguard data.
What’s more, cyber attacks continue to increase. In spite of this, over 70% of businesses admit to being unprepared to defend themselves against hackers. To eliminate the stress related to losing your data, vet your cloud storage provider. Then work with them to secure your data by following listed security best practices.
How to choose a cloud storage solution for your business
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a storage solution that fits your business needs. To make the right choice, no matter what the size of your organization, consider these questions:
- Do you plan to store structured data? This type of data can fit neatly into rows and columns. Think of names, addresses, and lists of products purchased. In this case, you want cloud storage that houses structured data.
- Do you plan to store unstructured data, such as images, audio, and video? In this case, you might want cloud storage designed for unstructured data.
- Do you plan to store both structured and unstructured data? If so, you want storage that houses both data types, also known as a “blob.”
- How frequently will you need to access the data? You want to know this because cloud storage providers may offer different classes of data storage based on how often you need to access it. This may affect the cost. Can some of your data be put into “cold storage” (archived)? If so, this can lower the price.
- What type of compliance regulations do you follow? Some businesses must adhere to regulations that limit how much data, if any, can be stored off-site. This is especially important for businesses who store personal data. In this case, security would be even more important than usual.
- What is the data recovery plan? In case of a disaster and data is lost, it’s important to be able to easily recover it from the cloud. The process of recovering data can vary from platform to platform and may be able to give you piece of mind from a worst case scenario.
The secret to effective cloud storage for your business
Many storage solutions have a lot in common. The key to effective cloud storage doesn’t lie in the storage solution you choose — it lies in data integration. In other words, you want to quickly and reliably access the data you need to improve operational efficiency and make good business decisions.
Here’s the challenge: When you collect data from many different applications, as many businesses do, “piecing it together” so that it serves you can cause a considerable drain on your resources. For example, lack of integration leads to duplication of effort. This impairs productivity and can significantly increase stress for workers. (Nobody wants to fill in the same employee onboarding paperwork twice.)
Further, you want governed data, meaning data that a governing body, preferably accomplished, battle-hardened IT staff, manages and secures before supplying it to the people and applications that require it. The benefit to you is the proper use of trusted, compliant, high-quality data that helps you better serve your customers, realize tangible business value, and maintain your competitive advantage.
Getting started with cloud storage for business
To get the most from a cloud storage solution, you want to choose your provider wisely, know what type of data you plan to store, how often you need to access it, follow listed security best practices, and, whatever solution you pick, remember that data integration is the key. This enables your business teams with the data they need to drive your business forward.
- Efficiently collects and integrates data across platforms, no matter how many applications you use
- Governs your data to ensure that it is compliant and properly used
- Improves data quality so that you have a plentiful, ongoing supply of trusted, reliable data
- Transforms data into different formats (so that those who depend on it can access it) and share as needed with internal or external stakeholders
Whatever storage solution you choose, Talend ensures that your data collections and retrieval system supports you. Try Talend Data Fabric today to manage and move your data to a secure cloud storage platform that works best for your business.