3 Views on Cloud Storage

3 Views on Cloud Storage

Just thought I would comment on the use of Cloud Computing for data storage, such as Backups files and Data Repositories.
To provide a bit of background I have experience working in 3 roles; as an onsite technician, a developer for medical databases and also as a data hoarder, storing backup data for clients.
I’ve tried to give my comments on each different point-of-view which may conflict and not be totally relevant to your business alone.

My experience as an Onsite Technician has showed me that hard drives are very cheap, hold a lot of data and are always going to be faster than internet transfer. They are also a physical piece of hardware that you can pick up, people generally feel safer when they can touch their data. When I say cheap, physical drives are a fixed, one-off price whereas Cloud storage is an ongoing charge.

1TB Hard Drive from Officeworks cost $80 (plus whatever cost are associated with the backup software).
1 TB on Cloud Storage cost $1 – $100 per month (depending on providers).

The positive for the Cloud is of course, your data is always available (mostly) and events such as hard-drive failures are no longer your concern but your cloud providers, your data remains available as long as you can reach the internet.

From the developer side, Cloud Computing and Storage is very useful with its always-on scalability, we no longer purchase expensive equipment to test and deploy our systems. Cloud systems are dynamic and we can add & remove CPU power, memory and storage space as we need. One major consideration with Cloud Computing is always the lack of control over the underlying infrastructure, if Microsoft or AWS suffers a major outage, there is always the possibility that your data might be lost or unavailable when you need it.

Finally, from the data hoarder’s perspective I have mixed feelings. Relying solely on the Cloud means that you can’t just Copy/Paste data onto a USB when people need it.
Poor Internet performance or network problems increase the risk of cloud-based data backups not completing their uploads in-time, as data-sets increase so does the backups requirements, in turn increasing the bandwidth needed each night. The common issue raised with large amounts of data in the Cloud is accessing it in a hurry. If we look at disaster events where customers need to download typically gigabytes of data to restore their business operations, in most instances their restoration efforts are usually delayed due to their internet bandwidth maxing out, something that can be avoided with on-premise copies of backups.

Putting the speed issue aside, the main problem we will face with using Cloud Storage is that we are dependent on a third-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.

Let’s look at the biggest mistake’s companies make when moving to the cloud:

  1. Hopping on the cloud-first bandwagon too hastily, simply keeping up with the Joneses.
  2. Arbitrarily believing migration to the cloud will automatically result in cost savings.
  3. Not considering on-premise capacity and how tapping these resources could meet the need more efficiently.
  4. Not fully understanding risks and cost associated with the cloud. For example, will you be locked into a long-term contract with your cloud provider? Do you have the required skills? Will your cloud provider offer the service and support you need? Are there hidden data ingress and egress fees? Will your data be held for ransom in their cloud when you want to exit? What will it cost to exit the cloud?
  5. Overlooking the need to consider accountability and data stewardship, in alignment with both legal and regulatory requirements (think Data Sovereignty and Data Breach Laws) and the tenets of ethical data use.
  6. Bandwidth, Bandwidth, Bandwidth, is your Internet bandwidth and technology able to support the increased reliance and bandwidth needs? Will shifting workloads cause additional issues?

As I said, these are just my opinions on the use of the Cloud for Data Storage, I would like to hear about your experiences! please comment below.



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