What Is Cloud Storage: Definition, Types, Pros, and Cons
Learn about all there is to cloud storage, which type is necessary for your business, the benefits of moving to the cloud, and the advantages and disadvantages.
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What exactly do tech-savvy individuals and internet users mean when they say files have been moved to the cloud? Do all files go to private cloud storage? Is there an invisible storage device that only developers and data scientists can access? Where is the cloud?
This article on cloud storage is typical to a beginner's compass and will serve as a reference resource for anyone seeking sufficient knowledge about the cloud.
- The Cloud
- What is Cloud storage?
- Types of cloud storage services
- Pros of cloud storage
- Cons of cloud storage
- What are the benefits of moving to the cloud?
- Final Thoughts
Whenever the terminology "cloud" is used, it refers to servers accessed over the internet and the software and databases on those servers. These cloud servers are located in data centers all over the world.
The cloud has been around for some time, with the first widespread commercial use in the early 2000s. Today, most modern enterprises are quickly adopting it, primarily because of its benefits that help companies function more efficiently.
So what is the cloud, and why are so many businesses moving to it?
What Is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is a model for delivering hosted services over the internet. Small and big organizations use it for data storage, app development, collaboration, etc. Cloud storage allows you to access and store data on a remote server instead of your local device. It's done through web-based interfaces, desktop applications, and mobile apps.
It's a storage platform that makes data like documents, photos, videos, and other forms of media available to users on demand. These services use a network of data servers to ensure constant availability. This means that even if one server fails, all the data from others will still be available.
So it enables users to focus on other tasks, such as work and research. With the ability to store large amounts of data, cloud storage has become an integral component of data management and protection.
The infrastructure for cloud storage is owned and operated by third-party providers. Cloud storage is provisioned to users' devices and accessed via a web interface. Data stored in the cloud is secured, and authorized users can access it.
As a result, cloud storage is a highly flexible alternative to buying and maintaining servers.
One of the most significant benefits of cloud storage is scalability. No longer will businesses need to invest thousands of dollars in expensive hardware, software, and server space. Previously, companies would overspend on hardware, data storage space, and other equipment.
With cloud storage, they can scale their storage requirements quickly and without sacrificing internal expertise. In addition, you can now easily access files and collaborate with colleagues regardless of location. You can also share files with colleagues through the cloud, which is ideal for working with teams.
Types of Cloud Storage Services
Generally, businesses can choose from three core cloud storage services – public, private, and hybrid. Let's take a closer look at what they mean:
1. Public Cloud Storage
Mega-cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services provide public cloud storage. This service combines cloud computing platforms, APIs, and data servers. They are designed to give users the power and flexibility to store and manage data.
In addition, the pay-as-you-go model makes public cloud storage an excellent choice for almost any need. Another benefit of public cloud storage is the scalability of resources. Businesses can easily add and remove resources as needed and can deactivate resources if necessary.
In addition, public clouds are commonly used for non-critical tasks like file sharing and app testing. So it's perfect for companies with less sensitive data. However, don't forget that the public cloud service providers control the storage and infrastructure.
2. Private Cloud Storage
Private cloud storage services require multiple devices and are often more expensive than public cloud storage, but they're more efficient in dealing with an organization's security and privacy concerns.
Unlike the public cloud, the individual company's firewall protects their data. As a result, private clouds are perfect for organizations with sensitive & confidential data like financial institutions and government agencies.
One essential benefit of private cloud storage is the vast flexibility it provides the user and allows for customization and control.
3. Hybrid Cloud Storage
Hybrid cloud storage is a combination of public and private cloud offerings. This solution gives users the flexibility of public cloud storage while retaining additional security and administrative control for sensitive data.
Many businesses consider hybrid cloud storage the best option for their specific needs, especially when upgrading their IT infrastructure. Although the adoption of this model has grown lately, it's not without its challenges. Regardless, its high flexibility is an essential advantage for many businesses.
Pros of Cloud Storage
When you think about the advantages of cloud storage, the first thing that comes to mind is convenience. Your data will be accessible from any device if you have the proper credentials.
This means you won't have to copy data from one device to another. Moreover, synchronization allows you to view your files on any device, regardless of the location. Let's take a look at some more advantages of cloud storage below:
Cloud-based storage is an alternative to storing data on a user's computer, leading to various security issues. However, third-party companies host cloud-based storage services, unlike a local storage network, where a single device holds all the files.
As a result, using the cloud is secure, and users can access their files no matter how many devices they have. Additionally, cloud-based storage services will not use up all the storage space a cloud provider offers, which is good.
Cloud providers rely on multiple tiers of security to prevent unauthorized access to their data. They use software-based firewalls and intrusion detection systems to protect sensitive data. High-end security testing is also a standard measure.
Continuous monitoring, vulnerability assessments, and penetration tests ensure that storage security levels are continually monitored, ensuring that any data stored on a cloud service is secure and protected against all potential threats.
One of the significant advantages of cloud storage is that it's easy to scale. Scaling up your cloud storage capacity can be painless. Cloud storage also leaves room for capacity & resources expansion and improves performance whenever a new node is added to the cloud; without additional infrastructure.
With this service, you don't need to keep multiple copies of your files, and it's possible to work with other people on the same file simultaneously. In addition, you can grant others access to specific files and collaborate with them on a file in real-time, allowing your employees to work on different projects without needing multiple copies of the same file.
In a natural disaster, cyberattack or accident, you can automatically replicate your data from a private to a public cloud.
Cons of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage also comes with its disadvantages. Let's discuss a few of them:
Although cloud storage costs less than on-premises solutions, it may be unsuitable for storing data regularly. Additionally, as more information is stored, the cost of data retrieval increases. We call it the "egress charge."
While cloud vendors claim to be entirely hardware-independent, they depend on electricity and the internet to function. In addition, if you store valuable information in a cloud, it can expose you to various threats.
For example, a spying agency could hack or steal the data you hold on the cloud. And while we often praise cloud storage providers for their security, they may not be as free from the eagle's view as they think they are. In 2012, Dropbox accidentally leaked confidential customer data when an employee's password was acquired and used to access a document with email addresses. Luckily, they were able to force password resets to save face.
Difficulty in Transferring Data Between Multiple Clouds
In some cases, cloud storage is unsuitable for businesses that must comply with strict HIPAA and GLBA regulations or need real-time data access. These legal or regulatory requirements make it impossible to transfer data to a cloud vendor.
In addition, these regulations can impose hefty fines on businesses if they do not meet regulatory standards.
Lack of Support
Cloud service providers often struggle to provide adequate support, and customers must usually depend on online help from their operators.
Access to Data
Another disadvantage of cloud storage is the need to back up files frequently. This can be a disadvantage if you need to retrieve information when you need it most, such as during an emergency. Additionally, cloud storage can slow down the speed of data downloads and cause communication latency issues.
What Are the Benefits of Moving to the Cloud?
Cloud adoption has soared during the pandemic, with 90% of companies expediting cloud adoption in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. So it's clear the benefits of moving to the cloud are many. For one, it reduces costs.
For instance, traditional IT infrastructure requires expensive updates, server anomalies, and a dedicated workforce, which add to a large sum of money. However, it is not all about cost savings.
Hitch-Free Business Growth
When done correctly, cloud migration can help your business grow. Cloud providers continue to update their hardware and software, making running the latest version of your applications possible.
This makes it easier to manage costs as you scale up your cloud environment. In addition, cloud providers are constantly improving and enhancing their services. By leveraging these benefits, you can ensure your business continues to operate at the highest levels.
Collaboration among teams becomes more efficient and productive as you do not have to worry about problems related to the on-premises setup. Moreover, because several users can access cloud-based documents simultaneously, you can collaborate with them while editing them in real-time.
This feature also helps teams cooperate, as you can comment on documents with chat features. It means minor troubleshooting and more time for innovation.
Reduced IT Staffing Costs
Moving to the cloud allows users to pay only for what they need and scale up when needed. For example, in a recent study, researchers at Manchester Business School interviewed 1,300 businesses across the US and UK that had already transitioned to the cloud. 88% of companies cited cost savings as a primary benefit of cloud services.
Furthermore, 56% of cloud users said cloud services helped boost profits. Despite the shaky start, cloud services have already helped many businesses reduce the costs of IT staff and allow them to focus on strategy instead of maintenance.
Lower Maintenance Costs
Moving to the cloud removes the need to maintain expensive computer hardware. As a result, businesses can cut their energy costs while simultaneously meeting their operational requirements. In addition, because a third party provides cloud services, they are not owned by the businesses using them and thus do not require maintenance costs.
In addition to lowering costs, cloud migration allows businesses to grow without disrupting performance. You can now quickly scale your business as it unfolds without affecting its efficiency and customer experience.
And by eliminating costly physical locations and capital tied to devices, cloud migration allows enterprises to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. It also reduces the risk of cyber incidents.
Implementing cloud-based solutions can be faster than on-premise counterparts. In some cases, cloud-based software applications can be implemented within two weeks, resulting in a speedier impact and return on investment.
The truth is, the internet continues to evolve, and soon, the cloud as we know it will change beyond what scientists already know it to be today. Yet, as it stands, managing storage growth still accounts for 79% of the pain point of IT professionals, according to the numbers provided by Sagis.
Essentially all businesses require cloud migration compulsorily. Regardless of what type of cloud storage you decide on, be sure to examine the pros and cons of each class to see which one suits your business; retail-based, healthcare, or SaaS.
Published at DZone with permission of Mario Olomu. See the original article here.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.