Zack Kirchin| Cloudcomputingpath
Not too long ago companies backed up their important data and applications to physical storage devices like a disk or in-house server. However, these solutions are becoming obsolete and no longer work well for companies that have many offices and employees who may work virtually or out in the field.
Instead, many companies are moving their backup solutions to the cloud for applications that are either company owned or provided by a third party (known as Software as a Service). In fact, with the convenience of the cloud,it’s becoming a trend that these same companies are adopting a BYOD (bring your own device) policy which allows employees to use their choice tablets or other devices that run a variety of operating systems (OS). With so many locations and devices, finding a solution for storage and backup that is accessible to everyone might be a challenge. This is where cloud backup services can be very beneficial, as it allows for all data to be stored and backed up remotely, with flexible access from anywhere. But, not all cloud backup services are the same – cloud backup can range from simple services ideal for a home user or small business to more intricate and custom designs made for an enterprise. To help you make a decision on which cloud service you should go with, check out the important differences highlighted below:
Enterprise cloud storage solutions store all your data off-site. The “cloud” is a technical euphemism for server farms spread all over, accessible from anywhere. A server farm is the actual location of where a storage company houses its servers, and where your data is physically stored.
One of the biggest advantages of off-site storage is that should your offices suffer a fire or a natural disaster, your back up is not on premise and rebuilding your files is easy.
Some people fear that the cloud does not offer enough security against hacking. However, it is likely that the protection offered by SaaS providers exceeds that of your company’s current server. Many hospitals and physician practices are now using cloud SaaS for storage. As a minimum, these services provide storage that is HIPAA compliant, which has some of the strongest security standards for electronic record storage.
Tip: Choosing a service that is HIPAA compliant provides you with top-level security for company records and applications.
Another advantage of storing data off-site is that you can free up space within the office. If you had servers located on site, you can now convert that space for a useful purpose and eliminate the energy costs related to keeping a server running.
Storage for Multiple Operating Systems
Many backup cloud services are geared to accept input from at least the major operating systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, etc. Not only can they store documents from these operating systems,they can also store data from any location and device with Internet access, and in real-time. This means if the CFO of your company makes budget changes on his home laptop that runs an Apple OS, the changes are automatically backed up and available for those at the office using Microsoft Excel for PC.
Tip: Not all companies can handle multiple OS requirements though; make sure they can handle all the OSs you use before signing up.
Lower Hardware Costs
Using cloud storage frees a company from investing capital, in server related hardware. This advantages your company two ways.
- Your company frees up cash for other uses, as a cloud backup service can often be cheaper than hosting your own data.
- The expense of off-site backup storage using a SaaS option is seen as an operating expense that can be written off versus a capital expense that is depreciated.
Lower Storage Costs
Cloud storage services also allow for plans that are tailored to the amount of storage you actually need. Instead of purchasing a huge server to ensure your business has enough space in the future, you can sign up for different service levels that match the amount of storage space you need right now simply allow for upgrade as your business grows. So if your business currently uses 75 GB you can sign up for an 80 GB plan now, and upgrade to a 100 GB plan as you gather more data. This can be much cheaper than purchasing an internal 500 GB server.
Lower IT Costs
Switching to cloud backup eliminates the need for the IT department to buy, maintain, and backup local storage. With less time spent on backup and related issues, redirecting saved man-hours to other IT functions is possible. Alternatively, companies may save enough hours to eliminate a position altogether.
What Some Companies View as Negatives for Cloud Backup Service
It Already Exists
IT departments within large enterprises may argue the current backup solution is right in the data center already. Most local servers store data as well as run programs. So, moving data storage out makes little sense unless the entire enterprise is running on the cloud.
Need for Redundancy
To send data to the cloud requires a good deal of bandwidth. To insure that data transmits and is later recoverable, opponents of cloud storage insist that their companies use at least two carriers to transmit data. InfoWorld’s Paul Venezia said,
“you’d better go as far as you can with that redundancy, ensuring that the circuits take different paths out of the building, and potentially utilize two different carriers if at all possible. Without connectivity, your users might as well go home.”
On the other hand, when a company hosts everything on its own, even when there is an Internet outage users can still pull up their local files to work on.
While cloud storage may be cheaper, the question is how much cheaper is it? SATA drives keep coming down in price – 24 TB is available for less than $10 thousand, an almost unfillable amount of storage for a relatively low cost.
Veneziaalso disputes that cloud security is adequate. In a post he wrote he said,
“By moving to the cloud for storage, you’re putting the fortunes of the entire business in the hands of another entity,” he writes. “If they make a mistake, get hacked, or suffer outages, you’re SOL. All the SLAs in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans if the data that drives your business gets nuked or winds up in the hands of the competition.”
Private vs. Public Cloud
Private cloud and public cloud are terms that describe how your company uses the cloud for backup service.
Users anywhere there is an Internet connection can access a public cloud service. A private cloud serviceon the other hand only deploys within certain borders created by firewalls and is managed and looked over by the people who work on it in an organization.
Public cloud users tend to pay up-front for a specific amount of storage, private cloud users typically only pay for the GB, or TB used as well as transfer fees.
Clearly, there are important differences with cloud backup solutions.The positives include economy, scalability, and accessibility, while the cons include a need for redundancy, your business is not in physical control of your data, and current solutions are already in place. There are many things you need to think about before making the switch to a cloud backup services, but remember it is very likely the advantages will outweigh the negatives of this new technology.