Cloud-based data storage solutions are available for some years now and there have been much discussion and deliberation over its feasibility and stability as a data storage solution. Cloud data storage has two components – data storage and data backup/recovery solutions. Though there are subtle differences in their nature and purposes but for many they are interchangeable. Nonetheless, cloud can offer certain merits on these two areas.
Is cloud storage a hype or reality?
As curiosity surrounding cloud is increasing there has been much discussion on maturity of cloud technology in performing as a high-performing, scalable and cost effective storing solution for enterprise data. Many users and IT managers are excited about the future of cloud as data storage solution but with cloud service vendors competing to offer cloud based data storage solutions, how can an end user ensure selecting the best service maintaining business continuity?
Challenges of cloud data storage
The ambiguity surrounding the definition of cloud based service has blurred the differences between cloud data storage and cloud backup and recovery. Many vendors are adding to the confusion by using the terms interchangeably. But these two are distinctly different. When cloud storage is a simple file storing and transferring solution, backup services require strategic approach towards archiving and recovering data at the time of need.
Selecting the right kind of storage solution is therefore one of the primary challenges faced by end users looking for cloud storage solutions. With the increasing popularity of using cloud based technology for data storage many service providers with limited experience and exposure are emerging at the scene, which has made selecting the right cloud solution more complex. One needs to make sure that the promises made by the service provider are not just sales talks. Choosing the wrong vendor would obliterate the benefits offered by cloud solution.
The increasing pressure on selecting a befitting but cost effective alternative for the growing cost of data storage has encouraged many enterprises to consider cloud. It offers scalable, flexible storage solutions that can be adjusted to the growing demand of the enterprise. Online data storage solution is cheaper compared to maintaining in-house datacenter. As a result, many service providers are now offering ‘low cost’ storage solutions to entice users that fail to maintain minimum standards. The initial low cost advantages soon evaporate and the user is slapped with hidden expenses and fees such as account maintenance charges, connecting fees, data access fees etc.
Data security is another area to look out for. One of the greatest weaknesses of cloud solution is its vulnerability against malicious attacks. In cloud your data is stored in a multi-tenant, shared platform that makes it more susceptible to hacker attacks. The biggest challenges faced in storing critical information in cloud are:
- Shared infrastructure and storage
- Shared security solutions
- Less control over data
- Less visibility of data
- Restrictions on imposing private security layers
- Data governance and storage compliance
While choosing cloud data storage solution one must make sure that services are managed and maintained at enterprise level, which means
- Data is encrypted while transmitted as well as stored
- The physical location i.e. the datacenter is well protected
- Adequate security layers are imposed
Once these conditions are met virtual data storage is no more vulnerable than physical, in-house storage locations.
Some vendors offer actual ‘location-less’ data storage solution where the physical location of the data stored by the user isn’t disclosed in order to offer better data security. But knowing the exact location where your data is stored can be crucial in determining cross-border data storage compliance.