Technology The Balancing Act: Storing Data On and Off The Cloud

Published on December 10th, 2013 | by Josephbker

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The Balancing Act: Storing Data On and Off The Cloud

The topic of cloud storage has led to a heated discussion among consumers and entrepreneurs in recent months. Although hosted-services companies are starting up frequently and having no difficulty in establishing a client base, the different cloud options are still a mystery for many businesses. The line between private and public cloud solutions is a bit blurry, with data security and user privacy high on the list of concerns. Although most every managed-services company on the market will profess to the highest levels of security for their potential customers, it’s still an ongoing issue.

Although cloud computing threats were a big topic at the 2013 RSA Conference, it’s remarkable that the technology experts were able to narrow down only a few primary security-related issues among the other threats on the list. In light of that, cloud storage rises to the top in terms of consumer and business solutions, and don’t forget that security has long been an issue for all computing, not just in the cloud.

Cloud Storage Opportunities

For consumers and businesses alike, cloud storage presents some excellent advantages and positive opportunities:

  • Access to data from any location on any device
  • Added security from physical disasters through remote data centers
  • Renewed focus on objectives while a third party manages complex IT tasks
  • A cost-effective solution over expensive on-premise resources and maintenance
  • Fewer in-house IT resources are required
  • Private, public or hybrid cloud storage options
  • Real-time data storage, backup and recovery
  • Simplicity in remote software or hardware upgrades

Finding the right balance is the challenge, but multifaceted options are available. The ability to decide which business components require on-premise equipment and IT management versus which can be handled by a third party is a luxury in and of itself.

On the Downside

Although data security is the biggest risk of cloud storage, and an issue that may continue to plague many due to advancing technologies, businesses migrating to the cloud should consider a few crucial factors:

  • Downtime is possible, affecting business activity.
  • Migration between service providers may be tricky.
  • Privacy is a concern, as the public recently experienced with the government tapping of data (encryption is important).
  • Return on investment (ROI) and cost savings are difficult to predict.
  • Third parties must be equipped to gather big data and possess the bandwidth to handle it.

Although a cloud environment has downsides, competing managed-services companies are easing the pain by addressing these issues, so it might be a valuable experience to become familiar with the cloud solutions being offered by these third-party cloud storage hosting companies.

Ultimately, businesses must determine whether they can manage their own data securely and efficiently or if they should seek a cloud strategy suitable to their specific business type. It makes sense for small to medium-sized companies to rely on IT professionals from managed-services companies rather than go through the process of hiring IT staff, purchasing and maintaining expensive equipment and keeping up with the latest technology in terms of security, storage, upgrades and more. Traditionally, large companies have maintained their own IT infrastructure, and they usually have had the capital and internal resources to do it. Yet these days a cloud-based approach is an attractive solution for companies of any size.

Image credit: jscreationzs on Freedigitalphotos.net

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