We live in a connected world of data, that calls for continuous availability, safe storage and timely retrieval of information when needed. Data backup, disaster recovery, archiving, analytics, cost savings, IT innovation; there are numerous reasons why businesses are ready to invest in cloud storage. This white paper analyzes the benefits of cloud storage, various storage options in cloud, comparison of leading storage providers, and tips to select a cloud storage provider.
"I DON’T NEED A HARD DISK IN MY COMPUTER IF I CAN GET TO THE SERVER FASTER… CARRYING AROUND THESE NON-CONNECTED COMPUTERS IS BYZANTINE BY COMPARISON."
A lot has been said, discussed or written about cloud in the recent times. The words of the late chairman of Apple Inc. sums up all that need to be understood about cloud computing. As more and more organizations move large proportions of their data stores to cloud vendors, one thing is sure- cloud penetrates into all aspects of nearly every industry. In industries such as healthcare, BFSI, media and entertainment, there is a growing demand for cloud storage solutions. Increasing adoption of cloud storage gateways, burgeoning investments in latest IT solutions, enhanced cloud awareness, all have contributed to the rising demand for cloud storage in a connected world of data.
This white paper aims to throw more light into various aspects of cloud storage, pros and cons of cloud storage, leading providers in the market, tips to select a cloud storage provider and steps to evaluate a cloud storage provider.
In simple words, cloud storage is a cloud computing model in which data is stored on remote servers, accessed through internet or "cloud".
The data is stored in a logical pool, which is a physical storage that spans over multiple servers, that can be located anywhere in the world. This physical environment is managed and owned by cloud storage service providers.
Here’s a simple diagram to understand cloud storage:
If you say ‘YES’ to any of the below, you are already using cloud in your daily life:
The advantages of cloud storage are not just limited to personal usage, since many enterprises (small to large) are benefiting from cloud solutions. Tools such as Google Drive and OneDrive are great options for both general public as well as small businesses to create, edit, store and access documents anytime, anywhere.
The use of cloud in data storage, collaboration, and communication tools is more powerful now than it used to be 10 years ago. Today, it’s easy to create, edit, analyze, visualize any form of data such as documents, program deployments, worksheets, CRM, presentations, broadcasting. It’s improving the workplace productivity as well as increasing collaboration within teams.
Cloud enables businesses to reduce the cost of data management, improve productivity, and enhance information security.
Based on its location, we can classify cloud storage into four categories:
Also known as internal cloud storage, private cloud storage is a service delivery model for storage within a large enterprise. It runs on a dedicated infrastructure in the data center built specifically for a single business to host and manage data internally and privately. This cloud resource is not shared with any other companies or individuals.
Many institutions and establishments such as hospitals, banks, financial organizations and others use private cloud to control data. Using private cloud storage allows them to meet the federal and state norms for data regulation and privacy. Private cloud storage supports secure and safe handling of highly sensitive data by adhering to industry-based standards and civic data regulations. Examples of such data include medical records, trade secrets or other confidential information.
Some of the leading private cloud providers include Rackspace Cloud, OpenStack, HP Enterprise, IBM, Cisco Cloud Infrastructure Solutions, AT&T Private Cloud, and Red Hat.
It is located and accessed over the public network. These are owned and operated by a cloud service provider who is responsible for hosting, managing and maintaining the network. The provider sells cloud space to companies or individuals who subscribe. While a public cloud’s infrastructure is shared by many companies, each company is only granted access to their own data. In public cloud storage, data and files of an individual are located within the premises of the cloud storage services provider. Hence, as a user, you have no control over the nature of the storage infrastructure. Resources are shared by hundreds or thousands of people. Both free and paid usage models are available currently.
In hybrid storage both private and public cloud storage infrastructures are combined and put into use with each storing different data. It is one of the most popular choices for small as well as large enterprises.
Two of the key business models for hybrid cloud storage include:
For instance, banks could have their clients’ data stored in public cloud. The clients will have accounts to access their data stored in public cloud, that enables them to interact with the banking officials. Their confidential account details can be stored in the private cloud.
Some of the most popular hybrid cloud storage providers are Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace and VMware.
The concept of community cloud is not a completely new one. It caters to the needs of a specific group of organizations such as banks, ecommerce establishments, healthcare organizations and so on. It is based on the same multitenancy concept; except that the setup is designed and implemented to meet the requirements of a specific group of target customers. Community Storage Cloud provides a secure, multi-tenant, scale-out storage service at a local or regional level. It may be owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations in the community, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.
AWS GovCloud and Azure Government Cloud are the best examples of community cloud storage. AWS GovCloud is an isolated AWS cloud region designed to host sensitive data, regulated workloads, and address the most stringent U.S. government security and compliance requirements. Microsoft Azure Government Cloud offers public sector entities a physically isolated instance of cloud that employs world-class security and compliance services critical for the all the systems and infrastructure built on the U.S. government’s architecture.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-145 defines a Community Cloud as "a cloud infrastructure provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared concerns."
|NATURE||Public Cloud Storage||Private Cloud Storage||Hybrid Cloud Storage|
|SECURITY||Good Based on cloud provider’s security measures||Most secure All storage is on-premise||Very secure Integration options offer additional security|
|SCALABILITY||Very high||Limited||Very high|
|PERFORMANCE||Low to Medium||Very High||Good Active content is cached on-premise|
|RELIABILITY||Medium Depends on provider’s availability and connectivity||High All equipment is on-premise||Medium to High Depends on provider’s availability and connectivity|
|COST||Very good Pay-as-you-go model||Good Requires expensive storage infrastructure||Fair Allows shifting some storage resources to pay-as-you-go model|
Cloud-based storage includes four categories:
Cloud file storage is a method for storing data in the cloud in which servers and applications will have access to data through shared file systems. This compatibility makes cloud file storage ideal for workloads that rely on shared file systems and provides simple integration without code changes. In file-based storage, transaction units are blocks.
File storage works in either of the two ways:
Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) is an ideal file storage solution for use cases such as large content repositories, development environments, media stores, or user home directories.
As your business grows, you need to manage the rapidly expanding isolated pools of data from multiple sources, used by a large number of applications and business processes. Today, many businesses face the challenge of having a fragmented storage portfolio that slows down enterprise innovation. Object storage helps you break down these silos by providing massively scalable, cost-effective storage to store any type of data in its native format. In object storage, transaction units are objects (files with custom metadata).
Leading object storage solutions include Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)/ Amazon Glacier, Google Cloud Storage, Azure Blob Storage and IBM Cloud Object Storage. These are ideal for building flexible, scalable and modern applications and offer extensive support to import existing data stores for analytics, backup, or archive.
Here, you save information to a remote database, instead of your computer’s hard drive or a local storage device. Internet facilitates connection between your device and database. All the information in a database is organized and structured in database tables. The tables are stored on the hard disk of the database server.
Database storage offers a scale-out architecture that enables consolidation of non-production and production environments, which accelerates agile development.
Block storage is a kind of data storage typically used in storage-area network (SAN) environments where data is stored in volumes or blocks. Each block acts as an individual hard drive and is configured by the storage administrator. Very often, enterprise applications like ERP systems require dedicated, low latency storage for each host. Since volumes are treated as individual hard disks, block storage is ideal for storing a variety of applications.
Block storage solutions like Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) offers ultra-low latency required to manage high performance workloads.
Cloud storage has gone mainstream in the recent years, and businesses of all shapes and sizes are adopting this technology. While adopting any kind of platform into your business, you need to consider the pros and cons to which cloud storage is no exception. The key advantages and disadvantages listed below will help you in determining if cloud storage is the right match for your company’s IT infrastructure.
|Factor||Advantage of Cloud Storage|
|Ease of use||
|Factor||Disadvantage of Cloud Storage|
|Wide Area Network Connectivity||
|Resource sharing||Considerations around the following:
|Security and privacy||
|Vulnerability to attacks||
|Slower I/O responses||I/O reply time of data stored in the cloud is much slower than direct-attached or SAN-based storage|
In spite of the concerns about security and privacy, many businesses look at the pros of cloud storage such as cost savings, accessibility, disaster recovery and back up, and support for resource collaboration. Cloud, certainly is here to stay and is a viable option for an organization’s infrastructure and budget.
The key challenges posed by data include its quantity, security and accessibility. Cloud storage is a great option to address these concerns, but only few people know how to evaluate the existing options to identify the best cloud storage for them.
We have to ensure we are choosing the best cloud storage provider since they own the KEY.
Prior to choosing a cloud storage provider, answer the following questions:
Is my data highly sensitive, huge in terms of volume, personal or belongs to an organization?
Understand how the cloud provider protects their data centers. This will include:
Companies that offer cloud storage must also have dedicated servers to store your data. The location of server farms impacts the data transfer speeds. You need to find a cloud backup provider who offers access to regional data centers and allows you to choose the data center location.
In its most basic form, a cloud storage system consists of a single data server that connects to the internet. Providers such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Google Cloud Computing maintain gigantic data centers, storing data from all over the world.
You need to understand exactly what services you’re entitled to and how your data will be handled. That means you’ll need to carefully review the company’s service level agreement (SLA) before signing up. It defines the terms of the agreement and clearly establishes the level of service you can expect from the cloud provider.
You need to verify the following factors:
There are a few types of certifications that you need to consider before signing up any cloud storage contract.
Your budget should take into consideration the security level, backup/recovery plan, capacity, availability etc. of the cloud storage provider.
You need to be aware of the risks while moving your data to cloud. This will include:
Finally, you also need to think if you will be fully satisfied with your vendor.
Cloud requires establishing high level trust between the user (enterprise) and the provider. What differentiates a provider is their ability to secure the trust of their customers. Maintaining good relationship with the customer can prevent even the simplest of cloud infrastructure services from becoming a mere commodity.
While evaluating cloud service providers, look for the following points:
This will include several parameters described below:
Most of the cloud services are based on a utility storage model. These providers generally tend to adopt a flexible, pay-as-you-go pricing model. This gives the users more scalability, opportunity for unlimited growth and the ability to increase and decrease storage capacity on demand. Leading use cases for a cloud storage service include backup, disaster recovery, collaboration and file sharing, archiving, primary data storage and near-line storage.
Following are some of the leading cloud storage providers for various purposes:
Most of the cloud service providers (CSP) offer high-quality services, with excellent availability, high security, good performance, and customer support. However, like any other market, the cloud provider arena is dominated by a top three—Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
Let us see how they compete in terms of storage.
The following table doesn’t explain all the features that you might find in the parent websites of the providers. The table lists out what’s unique about each cloud provider in terms of storage.
|Amazon Web Services||Microsoft Azure||Google Cloud Platform|
|Point of differentiation||
|Reach and Support||
With the continuous growth of internet over the past years, cloud storage is silently invading our day-to-day lives.
“Cloud-based storage will continue to gain momentum as the media industry looks toward efficient, reliable, and scalable cloud-powered workflows”, says Richard Heitmann, VP of Marketing at Aspera, an IBM Company.
Cloud-based storage allows companies to overcome cost concerns and successfully tackle issues related to accessibility, security and slow file transfer. Since cloud storage costs can be aligned with usage, upfront investments are minimal. Organizations have ample scope to scale their businesses with cloud. Accessing and retrieving content from cloud also depends on how an organization operates internally. Employing multi-cloud storage (such as Hybrid Cloud) enables organizations to work independently and facilitates seamless data transfer, without affecting user’s experience or workflow.
Rohini N.S. is a highly focused programming designer with eight years of involvement in a variety of development and project management positions. She is an enthusiastic team player who loves to explore latest technologies. Rohini has ardently solved several complex technological problems at Zerone, working in stringent deadlines and time constraints. She is passionate to share her learnings with every technology aspirant out there.
Zerone Consulting is a leading agile software development company that delivers innovative technology and business solutions to customers across the world. Our focus is to accelerate our customers’ journey towards digital transformation by ensuring them rapid delivery, transparency, and cost advantages in the best possible way. We help forward-thinking businesses to leverage transformation through Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Robotic Process Automation, Data Analytics, Face Detection and Recognition, Natural Language Processing, and Blockchain technology.
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