Cloud Storage: Advantages and Common Alternatives

By: Core BTS | September 27, 2022

Secure, dependable, and accessible data storage is the backbone of any modern company. As such, it’s critical to constantly evaluate the efficacy and efficiency of your data storage systems, and understand whether they can be refined, improved, or upgraded to best-fit your business. To perform that evaluation, you should become familiar with the types and individual benefits of the various unstructured data storage options available. Using the right data storage is imperative in helping organizations stay competitive in their market and achieve their business goals.

Types of Datacenter Storage

The options available to fulfill data storage needs depend mostly on where you’d like your unstructured data to be stored: on-premises, in the cloud, or a mix of both. On-premises storage is the most traditional style, and macro trends show most businesses are moving towards hybrid and cloud storage solutions. Determining the best fit for your organization will depend on your individual needs. To start, here are the basics of each type of data storage solution:

On-Premises Storage

Before cloud platforms became widely available for IT infrastructure and storage usage, on-premises, or local storage, was the only datacenter option for businesses. “On-premises” storage functions exactly how it sounds: data is kept in-house and on-site, within carefully maintained, constantly managed, and physically secured infrastructure located within the business’ building. Although on-premises data storage options are not as innovative as their cloud counterparts, they are still secure against hackers and other data loss or data breach scenarios — but we’ll go more into detail on its advantages later.

Cloud Storage

Cloud-based storage solutions store data in the cloud. Cloud storage is housed within off-site servers typically managed and secured by a third-party company such as Microsoft (Azure) or Amazon (AWS). Companies can utilize cloud backup storage as a safety net for any on-premises losses, or place all of their storage needs in the cloud to offload overhead costs.

Hybrid Storage

Hybrid storage is highly popular with businesses that want to modernize, but aren’t yet ready to lean all the way into cloud storage. Fortunately, it’s also a cost-effective data storage model, utilizing on-premises data storage devices for some business needs, and cloud data storage for others (or simply for data backup). Hybrid storage can be an excellent option for businesses looking to add scalability-enhancing features to their tech stack as they prepare for future growth.

Benefits of Different Data Storage Types

Now that you know what types of data storage are available, let’s analyze the advantages of each so you can make informed decisions about your own storage solution needs.

Benefits of On-Premises Storage

The key benefit of on-premises storage is having complete control and the ability to implement and all necessary security measures. With all data stored on-site, hackers would have to physically access your server rooms to incur data breaches, giving your data a significant layer of real-world protection against threats. However, on-prem solutions don’t offer the same level of data protection from geographical disasters (i.e. – floods, fires, etc.) as cloud-based solutions do. If data is only at a single on-prem location, that is a single point of failure. Cloud-based storage offers geo- replication with simple configuration options, making your data much more secure against regional natural disasters.

Depending on the type of business you operate, there are other significant benefits of on-premises storage to consider). The biggest benefit is near-zero latency and unlimited bandwidth for large file transfers. Finally, in-house storage is generally more customizable to your particular operational and security preferences. Organizations can set up their on-premise storage to meet their exact business needs. However, with upfront expenses for hardware and ongoing fees over time for necessary upgrades and maintenance, it often comes at a higher cost than cloud or hybrid storage.

Ultimately, on-premises storage is a safe and dependable option in data storage, though it comes with limitations and expenses that many modern businesses might find restricting.

Benefits of Cloud Storage

Cloud storage advantages are significant and continue to grow as the technology, and the cloud service providers who develop and manage it, evolves.

The first and foremost benefit of cloud storage is its accessibility and the collaboration it allows. The modern workplace is often hybrid, with a combination of on-site and remote employees or contractors that must work together over OneDrive, Teams, and other cloud services. Cloud platforms and cloud storage, enable fast, efficient, and clear collaboration and file-sharing no matter where your team is based — a key ingredient for a company’s scalability and future success.

The second benefit of cloud storage is scalability. Compared to on-premises storage, which requires hard drives and other physical devices to be maintained or replaced over time, cloud storage services are seamlessly updated remotely. If and when your business needs additional resources to accommodate growth, those resources are quickly accessible, utilizing your cloud storage provider’s existing infrastructure (versus having to install new equipment on-site, which is both a lengthy and expensive process).

While cloud storage may sometimes be considered the less secure data storage option for businesses, its disaster recovery features enable rapid restoration and continued operations in the case of a data breach or unexpected data loss. There’s a reason why so many companies utilize cloud backup capabilities for their data: the recovery is practically immediate.

Finally, overall, cloud-based storage solutions are highly cost-efficient. While not deeply customizable to each individual company in the way on-premises devices are, most businesses arguably do not require that level of customization to achieve their goals. Cloud storage saves money upfront and throughout its lifespan as companies don’t need to purchase or maintain hardware to scale to meet new market conditions.

Additionally, cloud storage allows organizations to utilize a consumption-based pricing model. This means that companies will only pay for the storage they use to meet demand (especially relevant for short-term spikes), rather than a set amount of storage that would come with on-premises hardware (aka capacity-based pricing).

At the current pace of technology, these savings quickly add up.

Cloud storage is quickly becoming the storage space of the future for the modern business. However, those that don’t want to go all-cloud just yet have another excellent option.

Benefits of Hybrid Storage

Hybrid data storage solutions combine many of the best benefits of on-premises and cloud storage, while eliminating weaknesses of each.

In terms of security and recovery, the benefits are obvious. Hybrid storage keeps certain data safe with the security of on-premises storage while employing the disaster recovery and backup solutions of the cloud. This combination helps mitigate the overall risk to a company and ensures that your business will remain operational and productive in the event of a breach or loss.

Hybrid storage also improves both a business’s time to market as well as its scalability. Fully on-premises systems are time-consuming to install and demand significant resources; by going hybrid, businesses can dedicate just enough resources to installing the right hardware on-premises, and offload other services and processes to the cloud (of course, it helps to have a data storage expert on-hand to guide you in this process). This creates a stable and secure foundation for data storage, enabling new businesses to enter the market rapidly and established businesses to move and expand with increased agility.

There are also cost savings to consider with hybrid storage. For one, it allows your organization to shift IT costs from CapEx to OpEx, which can help reduce budgeting constraints for the company. While hybrid storage is not quite as cost-effective as a completely cloud-based solution, it still reaps the benefits of not requiring the expensive hard infrastructure of a completely on-premises solution. Hybrid storage also eliminates the excess capacity often found in on-premises hardware while leaving an organization ready to expand and capitalize on new business opportunities.

It is critical that organizations considering hybrid storage solutions consider what mixture of on-premises and cloud is best suited for their business needs. Not every system or application will thrive on-premises or in the cloud. Having the right combination avoids the cost of changing systems best left as they are today – or worse, needing to reconfigure your system if your new storage solution isn’t the right fit.

Which Storage is Right For You?

Data storage is the backbone of the modern business. Organizations today have multiple options to consider as they build, expand, and adjust their data storage systems to their needs and growth goals. For some, the security of on-premises is the top priority; for others, it’s the scalability and potential cost savings of an all-cloud solution; and for many businesses, the combined benefits of the hybrid approach make the most sense.

Learning about the types and benefits of the different data storage solutions is one thing; making a decision is another. That’s why we highly recommend bringing in a partner like Core BTS with data storage expertise to analyze your organization and suggest the right storage solution for you. Choosing the best storage solution the first time will not only save you money, but will help you more quickly achieve your business goals.

To learn more about which storage solution is best for you, contact us today.

Core BTS is a digital transformation consultancy that helps organizations simplify technical complexity, accelerate transformation, and drive business outcomes.

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