Cloud Storage 101

A little cloudy about cloud data storage? We’re here to clear the air.

Cloud 101

They say that data is the currency of the digital economy. To follow that theme, that would make your server or mainframe your wallet. As you know, there’s only finite amount of bills a wallet can store. And as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence continue to evolve, the amount of “currency”—that is, data—you’re collecting can, well, make for one lumpy wallet.

This is why more and more companies are turning to the cloud for storage. Think of it as a bank in the sky...or don’t; we’ve pretty much driven the currency analogy into the ground at this point. Cloud storage offers a virtually limitless amount of space to hold all of your company’s information, along with a host of other benefits.

What is cloud storage?

Cloud storage is a service model in which data is maintained, managed and backed up on remote servers that live on the Internet, or "cloud." It’s purchased through a third-party vendor that manages the capacity, security and availability of your data, making it accessible wherever you are and whenever you need it.

What are some examples of cloud storage?

You already know of several providers of cloud storage services, you just don’t think of them in that way. Gmail and other email service providers are examples, as your messages and attachments are stored and retrievable through the Internet. Google Docs and Dropbox are other examples. Youtube too, as well as Facebook and other social media platforms, since your content lives on their sites’ servers.

What are its key benefits?

The benefits of cloud storage go well beyond freeing up space in your data center. Let’s start with Total Cost of Ownership. Storage on the cloud storage eliminates the need to buy your own data storage infrastructure or having to maintain it. You also have the flexibility to add or remove capacity on demand and only pay for storage and services that you are actually using. And if you happen to get hit with unplanned downtime, you don’t have to worry about lost data.

How is it mainly used?

That last point is one of the most common use cases for cloud storage: having a backup in case your hard drive dies. Businesses need to be prepared and cloud storage is a key to any disaster recovery plan. (While we’re on the subject, check out our whitepaper on disaster recovery). Virtual storage has also become a cost-savings tool in the DevOps environment, allowing engineers to spin up and spin down the compute and storage resources as needed, making for a more agile development process.

Which one is right for me?

There are many cloud-based storage options out there, with Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft Azure being the most prominent. Most provide the same main services but some offer more in terms of security and flexibility, so it really comes down to the amount of space you need and how much budget you can throw at it. This article from The Verge may help you choose which cloud storage service is the one for you.

Whichever service you choose, always keep security in mind. As this article from The Conversation states, not all cloud storage services are as careful with their encryption keys as others. RCN Business can help you with your data protection plan. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you operate efficiently and securely on your cloud and in your office, with a host of smart choices in products, solutions and contract options.