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Private, Public, Hybrid: The Three Personas of Cloud Storage

The evolution of data storage has witnessed the use of a range of peripherals such as floppy disks, CDs, flash drives, and network storage devices. Limitations with useability and storage space forged paths for new, more modern, and user-friendly applications. Current practices are taking data storage to whole new heights.  

Cloud computing provides businesses with an on-demand means of managing their data and applications. Often also under the watchful eyes of a dedicated team or outsourced partner, the protective bubbles of data centers offer benefits such as scalability, redundancy, and recovery. Cloud storage allows businesses to employ fewer technical resources while achieving a greater technical presence, providing efficiency and effectiveness where it counts. 

Cloud Basics

The world of cloud storage is one of repositories and retrievals. A virtual hard drive, it is a vessel that stores data through a computing provider via the internet. ‘Clouds’ or data centers house the information which is available for online access and use. Cloud storage operates by storing data on a remote server, which is accessible through a secure connection.  

Cloud Storage is quickly being embraced by businesses because of its many positive attributes. Some of the benefits of the cloud methodology include: 

  • Reliable data backup 
  • Perpetual storage 
  • Remote capabilities
  • Encryption
  • File sharing ease
  • Flexibility for telecommuting workforces
  • Remote access of data 

Essentially, users are able to access their information without limits of device, place, or time. The business saves on physical space within its IT infrastructure, and the need for manual backups is eliminated.  

Another reason businesses are enlisting cloud storage is for its security measures. Security in the clouds involves network precautions, compliance regulations, identity verification, advanced threat detection, and 24/7/365 monitoring. The remote hosting location also makes it much more difficult for hackers to access.  

The measures employed by cloud services often go beyond that which a business can typically and comfortably manage. 

Single Use

There are several cloud storage structures, each meant to serve a purpose or satisfy an environment. For example, storage within a ‘private’ cloud is privy only to the single business that is using it. Located either at the company’s physical address or hosted by a provider, the data is held within an exclusive network with hardware and software devoted strictly to that company.  

Private clouds can yield challenges initially. Capital expenditures are required to assure that servers, infrastructure, licensing, and data centers are appropriately configured and secured. Private clouds require a dedicated IT staff to manage patches, hardware, software, compliance, and data.  

Businesses express that despite the initial investment, the long-term comfort and savings of private cloud computing is evident, particularly due to work efficiency and the ability for employees to share resources in a timely way. Additionally, data is managed by an in-house IT team, giving a sense of familiarity and security to the end users along with an overall layer of privacy to the company. 

Sharing Resources

Public cloud storage is a combination of file storage and application storage and is managed though a cloud provider that also hosts other customers within the same network. In group cloud models, providers segment the data per company, creating a separate space for storage without intermingling user information amongst businesses. Your data is your data, in your area of the cloud, with legal regulations in place to safeguard it.  

A few characteristics of public cloud storage include: 

  • Pay-per-use or on demand / subscription service (based on CPU, storage, or bandwidth) 
  • Excellent collaboration characteristics including online office programs and web-based email 
  • Cost-effectiveness 
  • Scalable RAM and flexible bandwidth  
  • Ease of scaling storage to meet business needs 
  • Global accessibility 
  • Automatic backups 

Because they serve multiple entities, public cloud providers often have limited solution packages. Their services can be unreliable at times as growth and unpredictability contribute to platform fluctuations. For most, however, public storage allows for a hassle-free way for a business to pay for what they need, with low costs and minimal investment in software or hardware. 

The current key players in public cloud storage include Google (GCP), Amazon (AWS), and Microsoft (Azure) who offer cloud resources that also incorporate their existing applications and capabilities.

Mixing It Up

Hybrid cloud storage provides a clear path for data to move between public and private clouds. It can house information onsite, while distributing data and applications across environments. With hybrid storage, businesses can leverage the resources of a public cloud provider while maintaining their own secure, private environment based on their specific needs.  

Infrastructure currently in place is put to good use, and the on-demand ability to increase capacity during times of influx eliminates the need for intermittent (and unexpected) stretches in the capital budget. Hybrid clouds are generally more secure and allow businesses more control over their data. Speed and cost-effectiveness are two other benefits of this model. 

Hybrid storage seems like the best of both worlds, however, it does come with its own challenges: 

  • Implementation is tedious as it requires storage, servers, and network capabilities. 
  • Integration and compatibility can be challenging. 
  • Due to operating between two systems, data recovery can be complicated. 
  • If one side of the hybrid solution fails, they both fail. 

Alternative Solutions

Besides public, private, and hybrid cloud storage, several additional cloud options are available to those with specialized storage requirements. For example: 

  1. Community Cloud Storage: offers an infrastructure that is shared by several organizations with similar interests or requirements. It is a type of cloud storage service that is accessed by multiple organizations that belong to a group, rather than by the general public. 
  2. Multi-Cloud Storage: is a storage strategy that involves the use of multiple cloud providers to meet specific business requirements. It can help organizations avoid vendor lock-in, reduce downtime risks, and improve performance. 
  3. Archive Storage: is used to store infrequently accessed data for long periods of time at a lower cost than other types of storage. 

Maneuvering Cloud Options

Businesses are finding comfort in reallocating resources such as data management and storage. Cloud computing offers various models to help with solutions based upon the needs of your workforce and the information that is processed each day.  

If your core business is outside of the IT realm, or you require a deeper dive into the options within cloud storage, enlist an expert to partner with you in finding a solution that meets expectations such as usability, security, and success. Consultants and service providers are available to work with your team to determine the best path for your needs and capacity. 

Overall, cloud storage is a solid alternative to traditional storage solutions, offering improvements and streamlining in various ways. It is a viable option worth considering, especially if your business is looking for an effective way to store, access, and secure its data. 

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