From accessing files anywhere and anytime to allowing online storage for protection measures, some businesses are seeing a broad range of benefits from the move to the Cloud. Since Gartner's original prediction of a major Cloud shift in the next four years, there's been a strong consumer uptake of Cloud-based backups such as Apple's iCloud and Google's Drive. However, some in business still find the Cloud daunting.
That's because they don't know how it can greatly benefit them. Cloud storage provides an online space where users can store and share data. It's a valuable tool for organisations that want secure data storage that can be accessed by employees in any location, boosting efficiency. However, depending on the business requirements, it's all about choosing the right storage combination - The Cloud, In-house or Hybrid?
HYBRID – BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
The Hybrid Cloud is a combination of two or more clouds - private, public or community. It aims to bridge the gap between a company's computing resources, combining a public and private cloud within the same organisation. Each Cloud serves different applications and purposes.
The Private Cloud refers to a where IT services are dedicated to a single organisation, and is hosted usually on-site. The Private Cloud provides greater levels of control and security. The Private Cloud also allows for customised compute, storage and networking components to suit the company’s IT requirements.
The Public Cloud refers to the storage and IT services to the general public over the Internet. A service provider manages the Cloud’s core infrastructure, software and back-end architecture. Apple’s iCloud is an example.
The Community Cloud is a cloud model, where IT infrastructure is shared between several organisations from a specific community concern (security, compliance etc.), to shared interests. It can be managed internally or by a third-party. Government, healthcare and some regulated private industries are using the Community Cloud environment.
The Hybrid Cloud’s both worlds can be gained by keeping certain vital services on a private cloud but accessing the advantages of the public cloud for others more appropriate. In a private Cloud, the storage and computing resources are maintained behind a corporate firewall, with stronger security and greater control over the Cloud and the data stored within it. A company may store sensitive client data in-house on a private cloud application but interconnect to a "business intelligence application" provided on a public cloud as a software service. This example of Hybrid Cloud extends the capabilities to deliver a particular business service through the addition of externally available public Cloud services. Hybrid adoption depends on some factors such as data security and compliance requirements, a level of control needed over data, and the application a business/organisation uses.
For many, a Hybrid model has gained popularity. Not just for cost reasons, but to ease security concerns, as organisations can flaunt non-critical data in the public Cloud while keeping the most sensitive data safely in-house (private Cloud). The Hybrid Cloud offers the best of both worlds by combining the storage capacity and speed of the private cloud with the mobility and flexibility of the public cloud. If implemented correctly, the Hybrid Cloud can become a business game changer.
Chris Leigh-Currill, the founder of Ospero, once said, ‘I wish it were as easy as saying everything can go in the Cloud, even if this is technically feasible and presents no real additional security risk then the psychological barriers can prove insurmountable. My advice would be to create your Hybrid Cloud that has various properties from security capability through to performance. This will then give the business the options to place workloads and data where it fits naturally depending on the requirements. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution here as every business is different.'
KEEPING IT IN-HOUSE?
Data storage in-house can protect an organisation from hacking and loss of privacy, as it is stored in a physical location. Only certain people can access it, but it could be costly, especially if there is a fire, natural disaster, or actual theft. If the back-ups are in the same location, there could be a loss of both. Accessing the data from another site is difficult with this type of storage. Even back-ups can be costly with the multiple computers to update and protect. Of course, external hard drives can be purchased inexpensively, but it depends on how quickly the storage device can fill up with particularly large data. However, if an organisation or business has a significant amount of data to shift, then keeping it in-house is probably crucial. As the Cloud was once seen as the go-to place for bulk storage, the high-capacity private object store in-house is much more practical.
PUBLIC CLOUD WAR
The war is heating up in the Public Cloud space between Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft's Azure. In March 2016, Google let the tech world know that it is planning 12 new Cloud data centres in the next 18 months. The two front runners are Microsoft and Google. They both have the power, money, technology, and marketing to attract consumers and businesses. But with their pricing models, what comparisons do they make. Amazon Web Services has per hour pricing with an on-demand, reserved, and spot model. Google Cloud Platform has per minute pricing (minimum of 10 mins), with an on demand – sustained use model. Microsoft's Azure has pre-paid or monthly commitments (per minute pricing), and the model is on demand, with its short-term commitments.
As the Public Cloud war continues, prices may drop as attractive features will continue to appear. Watch this space.
THE RIGHT STORAGE COMBINATION
Every day, consumers use their personal Cloud services for documents, photos, music and more. For organisations and companies, accessibility with a Cloud storage service increases business reach amongst these consumers. With the high cost of in-house, hosting and updating the equipment, a Cloud storage service is much more affordable. Plus, Cloud storage will help to minimise the time and money spent on routine backups and system upgrades.
The right Cloud storage combination also depends on the PC and mobile platform choices. Ultimately, companies and businesses must determine the hosting solution that suits each application, either in-house, private cloud, public cloud, community cloud or hybrid cloud.
Apparently, many companies are taking up the Hybrid solution. An important thing to understand about Hybrid environments is that they are only as strong as the integrations that unite them. Performance monitoring, regular testing, and data access and egress procedures could reveal future areas of difficulty as well as a signal when and how to further evolve the application. The team orchestrating the infrastructure is always more important than the particular type of Cloud solution chosen.
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