Cloud Storage Outlook

Cloud Storage Outlook

Cloud options becoming essential for managing rampant data growth.

Driven by new workloads and the convergence of cloud, mobile, analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), the digital universe is growing at an astonishing pace. Analysts with IDC anticipate that by 2025 the total amount of digital data created worldwide will reach 180 zettabytes — or 180 trillion gigabytes. Clearly, such numbers far surpass what even the most robust on-premises storage platforms were designed to handle.

This is one reason analysts predict accelerating growth of cloud storage solutions. ResearchandMarkets, expects the cloud storage market to rise from $34 billion in 2017 to $207 billion by 2026, a compound annual growth rate of 21.9 percent.

Storage costs compel most organizations to at least consider a cloud storage option. Some industry studies claim that once all the costs are included, in-house storage is at least five times more expensive to own and run per gigabyte than cloud storage.

Cloud storage platforms allow organizations to offload costs and management burdens that come with supporting physical hardware. Data is stored in an external provider's data center, and the provider manages and maintains all facets of the data center, including power, cooling and server maintenance. Cloud storage is extremely scalable, allowing organizations to increase or decrease storage on demand while paying only for the resources they use.

Data Protection Options

Data backup is the most common use case for cloud storage. The cloud not only provides an additional copy of data, but makes organizations more resilient to disaster because data is backed up to a remote location. The cloud also provides a cost-efficient platform for data archival. Because archived data is rarely if ever accessed, the performance deficits of cloud access do not come into play.

It’s important to note that performance improvements have made the cloud a viable option for primary storage of application data. Enterprise cloud storage is also used for content distribution, web infrastructure, and application development and testing.

However, cloud storage is not without risk — particularly consumer-grade file sharing and synchronization platforms such as Dropbox and OneDrive. These tools are designed for individual users and typically don’t meet the security and compliance standards required by enterprises.

Even the more robust enterprise-grade public cloud options aren’t appropriate for all data. For example, financial data, certain customer records and patient information are subject to security, data governance and compliance rules that place limitations on where the data can be stored and who can access it. Those requirements generally preclude the use of public cloud storage. In such cases, the best solution often is a hybrid storage platform that allows organizations to take advantage of the flexibility and scalability of the cloud while maintaining the control of on-premises data storage.

The Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud/on-premises storage environment enables organizations to move data between platforms as needed to optimize cost, performance and data protection. For example, data that is frequently accessed may be stored on-premises until it becomes inactive. At that point, it is automatically moved to a cloud storage tier for archival.

The availability of a widely accepted interface makes hybrid storage feasible. The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) API has become the de facto standard in cloud storage, as well as a number of object storage platforms. Storage managers can use a common set of tools and view on-premises and cloud resources as a single pool of storage.

The integration of on-premises storage with one or more cloud platforms creates unprecedented scalability and efficiency in the face of rapid data growth. The hybrid model reduces data silos and simplifies management with a single namespace and a single view — no matter where the data originated or where it resides. Further, the ability to mix and match capacity across platforms opens up a range of deployment options.

“Although the public cloud is enticing, there remain technical, security, cost and regulatory hurdles that can be difficult to overcome for many,” said Scott D. Lowe, partner, ActualTech Media. “Users are looking for options to capitalize on the value of both cloud and on-premises storage.”