3 Views on Cloud Storage

3 Views on Cloud Storage

Technical ViewJust thought I would comment on the use of Cloud Computing for storage. To provide a bit of background I work in 3 roles; as an onsite technician, a developer for medical databases and also as a provider of online backups. I’ve tried to give my comments each different point-of-view which may conflict and not be totally relevant to your business alone.

In the first instance (onsite technician), internal/external hard drives are very cheap, hold alot of data and is always going to be faster than internet transfer. As it is also a physical piece of hardware that you can pick up, people generally feel safer as the know where their data is.

When I say cheap, physical drives are a fixed, one-off price. Cloud storage is an ongoing charge. For example, to store 1TB of media you could buy an external 1TB drive for $129 (Officeworks) or to store with Amazon’s Cloud it would be at minimum of $180 per month plus traffic charges.

The positive for the Cloud is of course in the event of hardware failure your data is still available. Just check with the Cloud provider as different type of Cloud Storage come with different a guarantee and price structure; such as Amazon S3 vs Amazon EBS.

From the developer side, Cloud Computing is very useful as we don’t have to purchase expensive equipment to test and deploy our systems on. Cloud systems are dynamic and we can add & remove CPU power, memory and drive space as we need. One major catch for us is if a Cloud Computing session (called an instance) crashes, it is gone and cannot be recovered.

Finally, from the backup point aspect there are mixed reviews. Using a system that will rely solely on the Cloud means that you cannot just burn a CD with peoples data on it as needed. We use our own physical servers to hold all client data and then backup our systems to the cloud with strong encryption. Poor Internet performance or network problems increase the risk of data not copying properly so check that any system you use has controls in place to resume transfers.

The common issue raised with large amounts of data in the Cloud is accessing it in a hurry. Downloading 1TB would take an estimated 2 days (T1 connection under perfect conditions). A provider may be able to get you a drive with your data on it but it’s a long wait with your business is on hold.

Putting the speed issue aside, the main problem we will face with using Cloud Storage is that we are dependent on a 3rd party to maintain their equipment and provide high-availability. Using an international provider comes with the risk of being offline due to under-sea cable damage, natural disaster or other factors.

As I said, these are just my opinions on the use of the Cloud. I would like to hear about anyone else’s experience.

Share this post