Traditional Enterprise Storage
Back in 2003, Chris Pinkham and Benjamin Black, two engineers working for Amazon.com, proposed a dramatic overhaul of the company's computing infrastructure. In a paper written for CEO Jeff Bezos, the pair envisioned a new system that was standardized, automated, and primarily web-based. But it was an idea buried near the end of the paper that ended up turning the IT world on its head: selling this new infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to other businesses.
The pair’s idea to treat Amazon’s web-based computing infrastructure as a product eventually gave birth to the modern consumer cloud computing market. Fourteen years later, it has grown into a $34.6 billion industry, and projections indicate it will more than double over the next four years, reaching an estimated $71.55 billion sometime in 2021. And as cloud computing continues its meteoric rise, you can almost hear the the death knell for traditional enterprise storage. So in the following article, we’ll take a look at why cloud-based storage has been such a disruptive force. We’ll also explore some of its advantages over traditional storage which help account for its soaring popularity.
While cloud-based storage methods have several clear advantages over traditional enterprise storage, the most noticeable difference is the lack of a physical, onsite infrastructure. Traditionally, businesses were forced to buy expensive IT equipment which not only took up a large amount of space, but also required regular maintenance to ensure data integrity. But thanks to today’s cloud-based storage platforms, everything is stored at a remote third-party location. As such, the need for a physical infrastructure has been greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated, and so has the need for companies to perform their own maintenance.
The fact that costly, cumbersome hardware is no longer an issue means quickly scaling your storage capacity up or down is as simple as clicking a few buttons, as opposed to ordering, installing, and maintaining more equipment.
Another clear advantage to using a cloud-based storage platform is the fact that it can be accessed from almost anywhere in the world, provided there is an internet connection. Granted, traditional enterprise storage could be made available to remote users, but the ease at which cloud-based platforms can be accessed is far superior. As such, cloud-based storage makes it easy for teams to collaborate, even across vast distances. And because everyone has access to the same data (as opposed to using email to send files back and forth), there is much less risk ending up with unwanted variations or out-of-date material.
One of the main complaints against cloud-based storage is the security risk that supposedly comes from storing critical data with a third party. And in all fairness, there is some truth to this. In order for the system to work, a user must have complete faith in their cloud provider. And depending on the sensitive nature of your data and the possible legal regulations specific to your situation and location, foregoing cloud storage in favor of traditional, on site methods might make sense.
But for most businesses, choosing a reputable cloud-based provider is as safe, if not safer, than traditional enterprise storage. That’s because companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure have entire teams devoted solely to security, as opposed to it being one of many issues a business’s IT team is forced to deal with. That’s not to say well-established cloud-storage providers are risk free. After all, regardless of what type of storage you use, you need to follow best practices for security, such as access controls, proper environment configurations, and implementing secure code. And no matter which type of storage you use, no amount of security will make up for using “12345” as a password or granting administrative access to everyone at the company. But in general, cloud storage is not inherently more of a risk than traditional methods.
In addition to security, utilizing a cloud-based storage method has the potential to greatly simplify a company's backup and disaster recovery processes. The decentralized nature of the cloud makes it easy to backup data across regions. And putting distance between your original data and your backups is essential in order to prevent a large-scale disaster from wiping out everything at the same time. The flexibility of cloud-based storage platforms also lend themselves to a wide variety of disaster recovery methods, which can help businesses tailor the right plan for their specific needs.
So far, we’ve discussed how the flexible nature of cloud-based platforms can greatly simplify your storage process (no onsite hardware, scalability, simplified backups, etc.). But the one thing we haven’t mentioned is the fact that all of these benefits combined can result in substantial savings compared to the cost of traditional storage. Eliminating the need for hardware immediately cuts down on infrastructure overhead. And thanks to the instant scalability and pay-as-you approaches offered by most cloud providers, users only end up paying for the storage they actually need when they need it.
So when it comes to choosing cloud-based methods vs. traditional enterprise storage, the bottom line is a healthier bottom line.
By David Gildea