For companies on a growth trajectory or who want to save money while maximizing storage, cloud computing is a great opportunity. With the option for significant storage and backup without the investment of establishing traditional on-site servers utilizing hard drives, choosing a cloud is a technology-forward option that can save time and money.
In spite of the general familiarity with the cloud – even those who don’t rely on cloud storage are generally acquainted with the concept – many business owners don’t necessarily understand what cloud computing is and how it differs from on-site data storage and backup models. This is what you need to know about cloud computing and why it’s important.
What Is the Definition of Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is a form of data storage, encompassing everything from files to apps, that is completely virtual. Traditionally, data and online backups are stored on a business’ premises, on a hard drive, requiring a significant investment in IT resources, from hardware to personnel. Cloud storage, on the other hand, is a completely web-based alternative. Instead of keeping data physically on servers, data is hosted in an online environment.
In a standard setting, business resources can only be utilized when using computers connected to servers. In the cloud, however, software apps, files, and records are available from anywhere. Because all information is hosted virtually, businesses can lift limitations based on devices or even operating systems, creating a flexible and seamless environment that improves workflow and enhances capabilities.
How Does Cloud Storage Work?
In a cloud storage solution, users connect to a data server via the internet to access both files and online backups. Files can then be sent, also over the internet, to this data server, which stores all information in a manner accessible via a web-based interface. Most cloud storage providers and backup services maintain a large number of data servers across various regions to ensure consistent availability, preventing outages and maintaining strong uptime percentages. This allows for a solution in which files are consistently available online rather than accessible simply on a company’s machine.
What Is an Best Example of Cloud Storage?
A good example of a storage solution, for personal cloud storage, that most people will be familiar with is Google Drive. A free online backup and storage option available to anyone with a Google account, users can upload word documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and PDF files that are accessible from anywhere on any advice. Data can be sorted into folders, shared with other users, and edited on the go on any device. Due to the cloud-based model, these tools are popular among businesses that don’t need secure cloud storage and more robust features of software solutions like Microsoft Office.
While Google Drive’s cloud platform is limited largely to file storage and sharing, this cloud-based model provides the flexibility and elastic abilities common with all forms of cloud computing and online backups.
What Are the Different Kinds of Cloud Storage?
The term cloud computing is more of an overarching description of the cloud storage model rather than a one-size-fits-all descriptor. In reality, cloud computing storage providers come in three basic forms: private, public, and hybrid clouds.
Public Cloud Model
Widely speaking, public clouds are the most commonly used form of cloud computing due to the low barriers to entry and affordable pricing. These clouds are hosted by third party players, like Amazon and Google, and can be used by anyone who signs up and pays for the file cloud storage or usage required. Public clouds are virtually limitless in space, ensuring that anyone who wants to dabble in cloud computing can do so. All of the infrastructure and data center requirements are handled by the third party.
However, for those who want enhanced security and any control over the environment, public clouds can be extremely limiting. With little input on the way the cloud is constructed or the apps it can support, public clouds must be taken as-is. Compliance issues can also arise in public clouds; as there’s no way to pinpoint cloud storage locations and confirm data privacy and security, regulators may have trouble confirming that data storage conforms to industry regulations.
Private Cloud Computing
Private cloud computing is another alternative that provides extensive opportunity for those who are considering moving into the cloud. Offering plenty of space for files with room to grow, a private cloud is often considered the best cloud computing resource. Unlike a public cloud, private clouds are only used by a single company or line of business, creating a completely independent platform that isn’t limited by the needs of other customers.
Private clouds can be constructed on site in a way similar to a traditional hard drive, in which infrastructure is maintained in-house, utilizing local resources. This can be expensive, but ensures complete autonomy and control. Private clouds can also be maintained by third-party cloud storage providers who take care of the back end of managing a data center, including backup services and security, taking the onus off a company. These kinds of private clouds can be extremely efficient and affordable without sacrificing any of the advantages that come with on-site private cloud data centers.
Hybrid Cloud Platforms
Hybrid cloud platforms are a combination of private and public clouds, utilizing the benefits of each to create a customized system for companies with unique needs. Hybrid clouds are far more complex in structure, making them the most expensive cloud setups. Due to the bridge that needs to be built between the private and public clouds to ensure compatibility, deployment can be a challenge.
The utility of hybrid clouds is strongly debated, particularly as a private cloud can often achieve the same results. However, these kinds of clouds are often preferred by companies that want to accommodate tb of storage in highly seasonal industries; in which periodic expanded cloud storage capabilities are necessary, or companies with large amounts of data and want to keep portions of it secure. These are most common in investment banks and online software providers that have seasons of high use.
For most companies, particularly small businesses and startups, a hybrid cloud is not a necessary expense for storing and accessing data.
What Are the Advantages of Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage and online backups comes with many benefits for users, leading to the current massive surge in its popularity. Many new companies are starting out using clouds while large and established companies are making the switch to storing data in the cloud. These are the largest benefits of cloud computing.
Affordability: Rather than investing in the significant hardware, software, and human capital costs that go into an on-site server, cloud storage solutions can be far more affordable. As the infrastructure is generally managed by others, there are far fewer setup and maintenance costs.
Flexibility: An on-site server often has a finite amount of storage space within the data center, creating logistical issues that require costly expansions should more space be needed. In a cloud environment, however, companies can reduce or increase cloud storage services and online backup space as needed, offering unparalleled flexibility.
Scalability: Growth is a goal for most companies, regardless of size. The cloud makes scaling easy, providing more space as operations grow and develop. In a cloud, there’s plenty of opportunity to grow server space without manual adjustments. Companies can use as much or as little space as needed without wasting cloud storage capacity or paying for more than is necessary.
Compatibility: Compatibility can be a major issue for companies, particularly when a variety desktop and mobile device operating systems are in use. Cloud data centers, however, are accessible across platforms, optimizing workflow for users. This can streamline capabilities, improving efficiencies on all forms of devices.
Security: Traditional servers can certainly store data on site in a secure manner, but the physical nature increases the likelihood of lost or damaged data. For example, something as small as a spilled drink can cause serious problems, interrupting workflow and permanently destroying files if adequate backups or disaster recovery plans aren’t in use. Natural disasters can wreak havoc as well, complete incapacitating a company in one fell swoop. As information in the cloud is stored virtually, the same risks do not apply.
Availability: Traditional servers are generally only available to those working on site on in-house machines that are connected to the local network. Cloud computing negates this; as it’s possible to access cloud storage, files, and apps from virtually anywhere, users can stay connected to responsibilities at home, at work, or on the road. This improves the worker experience and optimizes worker abilities, helping companies accomplish goals in a more efficient manner via comprehensive file sharing.
In virtually all situations, cloud computing provides opportunities that traditional server usage cannot match in terms of data storing and management.
What Are the Disadvantages of Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing, despite all of its benefits, does occasionally offer downsides to users.
Downtime Risk: As servers are internet-based, downtime is always a risk. When service outages occur – generally a situation over which companies have no control – data may be partially or fully inaccessible. While downtime is generally short, this can be crippling to operations.
Security: Public clouds can provide security risks, creating compliance issues for companies that operate under strict oversight. As all data is maintained by third parties, companies are at the mercy of how cloud providers choose to protect data, and this can be a detriment. Hacking is a threat to companies of all kinds, and cloud providers are not immune. Should this kind of issue occur, users are essentially helpless. However, using a private cloud can often negate some of these challenges, allowing companies to take a more informed and comprehensive approach to security.
Limited Control: In public clouds, users have very little control over the data center, as all decisions are made by cloud service provider. This can cause issues with application compatibility should things change, creating logistical issues that can interfere with the course of business. Again, a private cloud can negate many of these struggles as creation and deployment can be tailored to fit a company’s unique needs.
Many of the disadvantages of a cloud computing platform can be minimized or largely eliminated by choosing a private platform over a public one.
What Is the Best Cloud Storage?
The best cloud storage services and online backup can be very subjective and will vary based on what a company outlines as its priorities. For some companies, particularly with only a handful of users, a public cloud will likely suffice, at least at first. However, for companies with a growing user base and any privacy needs, a private cloud is universally the best choice.
Private clouds offer the best protections for users as privacy is controlled by the single company using the cloud rather than a large public company with its own interests in mind. Security and encryption can be far more advanced when using a private cloud solution, giving companies the freedom to protect their data in any way they see fit. This can be a big advantage, making it less likely that data in the cloud will be compromised by a cyber attack.
Hosted private clouds can allow for even more opportunity; as these cloud solutions are monitored around the clock by an expert third party, any potential security issues can be attended to in a matter of seconds. Encryption is highly sophisticated for the best possible outcome.
The cheapest option for online cloud storage services is almost always a private cloud. This can seem counterintuitive for those new to cloud computing – the nature of a private cloud implies higher setup and deployment costs – but this isn’t true in the long run. Private clouds can actually be cheaper on a per-user basis based on what is included in this price, providing comprehensive access that can be extremely costly in a public cloud environment. With solutions like Avatara’s CompleteCloud, everything, from internet bills to customer service, is combined to create an affordable and safe solution with a set monthly price. CompleteCloud also provides 24/7 support and monitoring, making sure all users are protected and help is always available.
One of the challenges many companies experience with public clouds is tiered pricing. The price jump when adding more users or more cloud storage services can be extreme, doubling or tripling costs and putting companies under financial pressure. When this occurs, companies may be forced to switch to another provider, creating logistical issues and further costs.
Due to the complex structure, hybrid clouds are generally far more expensive than any other option. For small or growing companies, a hybrid cloud is not a cost-effective solution.
For companies that want to be sure their needs are met, a private cloud for storage and backup is the best choice. With the opportunity to allow for customization and guaranteed application compatibility, a private cloud can meet virtually any need without any of the hiccups that can arise when using a public cloud.
Cloud computing is a wonderful way to improve efficiency and streamline workflows, allowing for a better outcome for customers and their employees. Protection and encryption operations are sophisticated and thorough, ensuring complete security, no matter what comes to pass. With a comprehensive solution like Avatara’s CompleteCloud, it’s possible to gain all of the resources necessary to improve operations and facilitate growth.