What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage is a virtual space for saving important data, files, and other information within a secure physical server, typically managed by an off-site third-party provider or an on-premises administrator.
Robust off-site data centers
Cloud storage mimics the functionality of local storage devices, letting you save or access a variety of content types at any given time from a virtual environment. Any information uploaded to the cloud is stored remotely in robust off-site data centers. When users save data on cloud servers, that information becomes the responsibility of the managing third-party provider in exchange for a fee.
Third-party storage solutions
Popular third-party cloud storage solution examples include Google, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive (for individuals or small businesses) or Microsoft Azure (for larger enterprises). And like other forms of cloud computing, there are multiple infrastructures to choose from, including public, private, and hybrid models.
Before mainstream cloud storage, users and organizations would typically build and manage their own storage area networks (SANs) in order to save their work and other data. When that storage space maxed out, any additional data would be saved or transferred to external storage devices. As storage demands increased, adding more servers or infrastructure became necessary.
How does cloud storage work?
Storing data in the cloud offers a solution that is both flexible and scalable. It enables individuals, organizations, and enterprises to more easily store and manage their digital assets. Most enterprises operate with a hybrid cloud model, making use of cloud-model resources both in the public cloud, on-prem, and at the edge.
To access stored data, users authenticate themselves through secure login credentials. Once established, they can retrieve, modify, or delete their data. Cloud storage services offer features like data encryption, backup, and recovery.
Scalability is a primary benefit of cloud storage. Organizations can quickly scale up their storage capacity as data needs grow by allocating more resources from the cloud storage vendor. Conversely, resources can be scaled down when storage requirements decrease to avoid unnecessary costs. This flexibility allows businesses to align their storage costs with their actual needs, eliminating the need for upfront investments in physical hardware.
Storing, managing, and accessing data becomes dynamic and efficient with the use of cloud storage. It combines security measures, redundancy, and scalability to ensure the availability and integrity of stored data across a variety of models. It has changed how individuals and organizations manage information, providing a robust and flexible storage solution for the digital age.
Advantanges and Disadvatages of Cloud Storage and On-Premises Storage.
|Advantages of Cloud Storage||Advantages of On-Premises Cloud Solutions|
|Scalability: Cloud storage allows for easy scalability, enabling organizations to expand storage capacity as needed.||Data Control: On-premises solutions offer direct control over data, enhancing security and compliance measures.|
|Accessibility: Data stored in the cloud is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, promoting remote work and collaboration.||Data Governance: On-premises solutions allow for tailored data governance policies and compliance enforcement.|
|Cost Efficiency: Public cloud providers offer pay-as-you-go pricing, potentially reducing upfront infrastructure costs.||Cost Predictability: On-premises solutions can provide greater cost predictability, avoiding unexpected cloud service fees.|
|Disaster Recovery: Cloud providers offer robust disaster recovery options, ensuring data resilience in the event of outages or disasters.||Security Control: On-premises environments offer complete control over security measures, reducing the risk of third-party breaches.|
|Automatic Updates: Cloud providers manage system updates and maintenance, reducing the burden on IT teams.||Customization: On-premises solutions allow for tailored infrastructure configurations to meet specific business needs.|
|Disadvantages of Cloud Storage||Disadvantages of On-Premises Cloud Solutions|
|Dependence on Internet: Cloud storage relies on internet connectivity, making it vulnerable to outages.||Capital Costs: On-premises solutions often require substantial upfront capital investments in hardware and infrastructure.|
|Data Security Concerns: Storing data off-site raises security and privacy concerns, potentially exposing data to breaches.||Maintenance Responsibility: Organizations are responsible for hardware maintenance, which can be resource-intensive.|
|Cost Overruns: Unexpected cloud service charges can lead to cost overruns if resource usage is not carefully monitored.||Limited Scalability: On-premises solutions may face scalability limitations, necessitating additional investments in hardware.|
|Limited Control: Organizations have limited control over cloud infrastructure, which may not align with specific security requirements.||Complexity: Managing on-premises infrastructure can be complex, requiring skilled IT personnel.|
|Data Transfer Costs: Moving large volumes of data in and out of the cloud can incur data transfer costs.||Disaster Recovery Challenges: Building and maintaining a robust disaster recovery infrastructure on-premises can be challenging and costly.|
Modern applications of cloud storage
Thanks to cloud technology, data storage is quickly becoming more agile, scalable, and cost effective. And for businesses around the world, cloud storage is being used nearly every day, helping them improve and optimize IT infrastructure, accelerate growth, and power decision-making across any number of verticals. In other words, compared to traditional or hard metal services, cloud storage lets companies decentralize the data they create, collect, and store, making it easier to access, share, and protect data from any point in the world—so long as you have an Internet connection.
You don’t have to look far to find cloud storage on the market. The most common and accessible types of cloud storage are public, with applications such as Google Docs topping the list. Here, users can compose documents and other content, save it, revise it, share it, and even work side-by-side with people in one virtual environment. Fewer physical roadblocks enable new levels of collaboration that wouldn’t be possible with bare metal servers.
But cloud storage has also become the go-to solution for general-, mission-, and business-critical workloads, as well as for protecting the massive amounts of data that enterprises collect.
On mission-critical workloads, cloud storage can enhance the performance of applications in need of ultra-low latency, extreme availability, and scalability at a moment’s notice. For business-critical workloads, web applications that have service-level agreements (SLAs) can get the resiliency, availability, and performance work functions needed for everyday operations and beyond. And for more mainstream needs, storage is readily available.
Cloud storage is also an active ingredient in data protection and data management, adding an extra layer of security while serving as a reliable back-up in case of unexpected disaster.
Types of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage facilitate companies to store and control their data on third-party servers. Several advantages make it appealing to enterprises. It allows enterprises to scale their storage capacity as their data demands grow. Another benefit is that authorized individuals can access data from any place with an internet connection. It also gives data resiliency with powerful backup and recovery options. Cloud storage eliminates the need for on-premises hardware and lowers maintenance expenses, making it a feasible alternative for enterprises optimizing data management.
A. Object Storage
Key Attributes of Object Storage:
- Object storage is designed for storing unstructured data, including files, images, videos, and backups.
- Each data unit is stored as an object with a unique identifier and associated metadata.
- Scalability is a core feature, enabling the handling of vast data volumes.
- Data access occurs via APIs utilizing HTTP/HTTPS protocols.
- Exceptional resilience is a hallmark of object storage, often involving redundant data distribution across multiple locations.
Applications and Merits of Object Storage:
- Application Scenarios: Backup and disaster recovery, content distribution, data archiving, multimedia repository, and storage of IoT-generated data.
- Advantages: Scalability, cost-efficiency, data durability, streamlined data retrieval, compatibility with various applications, and proficiency in managing substantial file sizes.
B. Block Storage
Distinctive Aspects of Block Storage:
- Block storage is employed for storing data in predefined blocks, often in tandem with virtual machines.
- High performance and minimal latency make block storage ideal for applications requiring rapid data access.
- Common use cases include database management, application data warehousing, and virtual machine disk storage.
Use Cases and Upsides of Block Storage:
- Scenarios of Use: Databases (SQL/NoSQL), application hosting, virtual machines, high-performance computing.
- Advantages: Instant data retrieval, performance optimization, data consistency, and support for data-intensive workloads.
C. File Storage
Key Features of File Storage:
- File storage is structured to manage shared files and directories across interconnected devices.
- It relies on protocols like NFS (Network File System) and SMB (Server Message Block).
- File storage is well-suited for collaborative efforts, content administration, and seamless file distribution.
Usage Scenarios and Benefits of File Storage:
- Application Instances: Shared file repositories, content management systems, user-specific home directories, and application configuration files.
- Merits: Centralized data governance, simplified collaboration, file version control, access regulation, and compatibility with legacy applications.
Cloud Storage Architecture
A. Cloud Storage Infrastructure:
- Data Centers and Storage Clusters — Public Cloud, On-Prem and Colo:
- Cloud storage providers operate data centers with multiple storage clusters to store and manage user data.
- Data centers are distributed across geographic regions to improve latency and data access for users in different locations.
- On-prem cloud storage is a more recent development and may be a better choice for certain use cases.
- Redundancy and Fault Tolerance in Cloud Storage:
- Redundancy involves storing copies of data in different locations to ensure data availability in case of hardware failures or outages.
- Storage clusters employ techniques like data mirroring and erasure coding to create redundant copies of data.
- Fault tolerance mechanisms automatically route requests to healthy storage nodes when failures occur.
- Data Durability and Availability:
- Data durability refers to the ability to retain data over time without loss. Cloud providers typically offer high durability guarantees.
- Availability is the accessibility of data to users. Cloud storage employs load balancing and redundant data placement to ensure high availability.
B. Cloud Storage Services for Replication, Backup & Restore, and Disaster Recovery:
- Data Replication for Redundancy:
- Cloud storage systems efficiently replicate data by producing duplicates in many locations or availability zones.
- These solutions commonly use three-copy replication to ensure data availability if one copy fails.
- Backup and Restore Features:
- Cloud storage companies provide complete backup solutions to protect data against deletion, corruption, and calamities.
- Snapshots and incremental backups collect data at precise times and store only the changes made since the last backup.
- Planning for Disaster Recovery:
- Disaster recovery strategy relies on cloud storage to restore data and processes after major interruptions.
- Cloud providers speed up disaster recovery after regional outages by replicating data and apps across regions.
- Continuous testing and modeling of disaster recovery scenarios are necessary for critical situations and smooth recovery.
Cloud storage architecture is designed to provide reliability, scalability, and data availability. However, organizations need to understand the specifics of their chosen cloud provider's architecture and implement appropriate strategies to optimize their data's durability, availability, and recoverability based on their business needs.
How to use Cloud Storage
A. Backup and Disaster Recovery:
- Cloud Storage for Data Backup and Recovery:
- Use cloud storage as a cost-effective and scalable solution for backing up critical data.
- Implement regular automated backups to protect against data loss.
- Leverage snapshots for point-in-time recovery and faster restoration.
- Offsite Storage and Disaster Recovery Planning:
- Cloud storage provides an offsite backup location for disaster recovery.
- Create a disaster recovery plan outlining recovery strategies and priorities.
- Test your disaster recovery plan to ensure readiness.
- Backup Automation and Lifecycle Management:
- Automate backup processes using scheduled jobs or triggers.
- Implement data lifecycle management policies to move or delete data based on age and usage patterns.
B. Big Data and Analytics:
- Storing and Processing Large Datasets in the Cloud:
- Cloud storage offers scalable storage solutions for storing and processing big data.
- Use data lakes to store structured and unstructured data for analytics.
- Scalable Storage Solutions for Analytics Workloads:
On-premises cloud storage solutions can enhance resilience, security, governance, and cost control by providing organizations with direct control over their infrastructure, enabling them to implement tailored security measures, governance policies, and cost optimization strategies while maintaining data within their physical premises.
Cloud Storage Best Practices
A. Data Governance and Lifecycle Management:
- Data Classification and Retention Policies:
- Data Classification and Retention Policies:
- Define data retention periods to ensure compliance with regulations.
- Categorize data into tiers based on access frequency and importance.
- Data Archival and Deletion Strategies:
- Move the least-accessed data to lower-cost storage tiers or archives.
- Implement data expiration policies to delete outdated data automatically.
- Maintain a balance between accessibility and cost when deciding on archival or deletion.
- Compliance Considerations for Data Storage:
- Understand data privacy and compliance regulations relevant to your industry.
- Choose cloud storage solutions with encryption, access controls, and compliance certifications.
- Regularly audit and review your data storage practices to ensure compliance.
B. Cost Management and Optimization:
- Monitoring and Optimizing Cloud Storage Costs:
- Monitor storage usage, access patterns, and egress data to identify cost drivers.
- Utilize cloud provider tools or third-party solutions to track and analyze costs.
- Utilizing Data Lifecycle Management for Cost Savings:
- Implement automated data lifecycle policies to transition data between storage tiers based on usage patterns.
- Archive infrequently accessed data to lower-cost storage options.
- Right-Sizing Storage Resources for Efficiency:
- Choose storage options that match your performance and capacity needs.
- Avoid overprovisioning by regularly reviewing and adjusting storage allocations.
Cloud storage costs can add up, so optimizing usage and minimizing unnecessary expenses is essential. Regularly assess your data management practices, ensure compliance, and seek opportunities for cost savings without compromising data availability and security.
Future Trends and Innovations in Cloud Storage
A. Advanced Storage Technologies in the Cloud:
- Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) Storage:
- NVMe-based storage offers faster data access and reduced latency than traditional storage technologies.
- Cloud providers are adopting NVMe-based storage solutions to enhance performance for demanding workloads.
- Storage Class Memory (SCM) in Cloud Environments:
- SCM, a new class of storage that combines the speed of memory with the persistence of storage, is becoming more prevalent in cloud environments.
- SCM improves data access times and supports data-intensive applications.
- Next-Generation Storage Architectures:
- Cloud providers are exploring innovative storage architectures to improve scalability, reliability, and efficiency.
- Distributed storage systems like shared databases and decentralized file systems aim to provide better fault tolerance and scalability.
- Advanced on-prem cloud storage solutions can provide better performance, resiliency, control, and cost savings vs public cloud options
B. Edge Computing and Distributed Cloud Storage:
- Edge Storage and Data Processing at the Edge:
- Edge computing processes data closer to the source to reduce latency and improve real-time decision-making.
- Edge storage solutions store and process data locally, reducing the need for centralized data transfers.
- Data Protection in Edge Environments:
- Certain cloud vendors offer seamless backup and recovery solutions that span edge to cloud.
The cloud storage landscape is continuously evolving to meet the demands of modern applications and data requirements. Advanced storage technologies, edge computing, and on-prem storage solutions are likely to shape the future of cloud storage, enabling faster access to data, improved performance, and enhanced data processing capabilities. Stay informed about emerging trends to make informed decisions when adopting new storage solutions.
HPE and cloud storage services
HPE offers a full spectrum of cloud storage services available through one of several consumption-based (pay-as-you-go) models. With the help of services and products like HPE 3PAR StoreServ, HPE GreenLake, HPE InfoSight, Scality RING, and many more, HPE has helped companies accelerate and optimize their virtual workloads based on their unique needs, mitigate common and unexpected risks, and reduce costs at the same time.
In retail, HPE helped Yoox Net-A-Porter Group (YNAP) transition from legacy storage servers to a more robust HPE GreenLake solution with flex capacity. By doing so, YNAP could maintain stable storage performance even during unpredictable surges in e-commerce transactions. Not only did HPE help YNAP meet those demands, but they also doubled product development productivity and simplified budget management.
For Toyota Mapmaster, who makes advanced map databases for Toyota car navigation systems, HPE helped integrate two all new high-performance storage systems. In turn, Toyota Mapmaster drastically reduced heavy-batch processing times while speeding up inspection and validation processes.
Time and time again, working with HPE on cloud storage solutions yields consistent results, ranging from large capex savings and fewer wasted resources to extensive data and storage optimization that unlocks new opportunities and innovation.