Rapidly growing storage demands are the major cause that many organizations have to turn towards the cloud, but ensuring that cloud storage is completely architected regarding security, performance, and scalability is critically important.
There are numerous causes responsible for this growth. Many organizations turned to cloud storage as an efficient or less-expensive location for inactive or archived data, situations where latency and security are not of primary importance. But as cloud utilization, in general, has increased, so too has the interest in cloud storage.
To overcome these roadblocks, application-centric organizations are realizing the solution lies in moving toward cloud-based environments and are accelerating their adoption of cloud-native application architectures. Yet, this brings its own set of challenges.
- Independently assess cloud and storage requirements
Once a basic strategy is in place, it is time to evaluate cloud storage needs.
Commence with three questions:
- What is the application you are supporting, and what is the extent of your support?
- What are the performance requirements and other needs of the application? For example, latency is a big issue that can directly impact whether you hit your service-level agreements (SLA).
- What are other factors involved?
With these questions answered, you can determine whether it makes more sense to bring the application to the data, or the data to the application.
That determination should factor in the five key areas of security, integration and manageability, performance, cost, and scalability.
- Security is paramount
At a minimum, a cloud provider should provide encryption both for data in transit and at rest, but that is often not enough. Ultimately, responsibility for securing customer data resides with the business, not the cloud provider, putting the onus on the firm to ensure that there is no data leakage.
- Integration and manageability
On-premises storage-area network (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS) solutions typically use block- and file-level storage, whereas cloud storage uses an object-based model. Moving data between the two introduces the potential for data loss and requires software that can integrate the two systems.
Ideally, for the end user, cloud storage should look, feel and perform like local storage, and data should move seamlessly from one cloud environment to another. If the personnel maintaining the systems are constantly patching or tweaking applications, that makes for an inefficient use of resources that could increase downtime and introduce new security risks.
- Performance matters: speed, latency, and availability
Mention performance and the first thing that comes to mind is improving speed and reducing latency. And, indeed, those factors are critical in hitting performance benchmarks, even more so if large files are being pulled from one cloud to another.
Data must be stored and backed up in a way that minimizes latency when it is accessed. Integration and manageability also have a direct impact on performance. To the end user, accessing data should be seamless from any application on any platform.
- Cost cuts both ways
Many businesses turn to the cloud to save money, and while it is likely to trim costs on equipment and other capital expenditures, cloud storage will raise other expenses, and it may not net out to overall cost savings.
- Don’t overlook scalability
Scalability needs vary by organization, and the ability of storage providers to adapt to customers’ demands is key. If a firm’s storage needs are steady, the ability to increase or decrease storage on-demand may not be a key criterion for the cloud provider, and might even sweeten the appeal of a private cloud deployment.
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