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  • Writer's pictureDavid Panitch

Where Should You Store Data: The Cloud? On-Premise? A Hybrid?

Choosing the many data storage options available to enterprises today can be difficult because of its many moving parts and the trade-offs between alternatives. In short, having choices is a double-edged sword.

Today we’ll take a look at the three broad-stroke storage options that organizations can choose from and summarize each of their benefits and pitfalls.

The Cloud

Cloud storage is broken into two different sets of options: private cloud and public cloud solutions.

Private cloud entails either managing servers and storage devices in-house with cloud computing technology or contracting with a cloud storage provider for space within their data center.

A public cloud requires engaging one of many storage and computing service providers to utilize pre-existing cloud architecture and systems in a “pay as you go” model and can be provisioned as either a single or multi-tenant solution.

In a single tenant environment, your data is the only data found on a specific server. Think of it as your house, not a condo in a 400 unit building. You have total control of who walks through the front door. Multi-tenant is the condo building that allows all 400 tenants to come into the building, but each has their own unit to securely live in.

An example of multi-tenant is Gmail. The processing of your Gmail activity is on a server with a bunch of other Gmail customers. While, of course, there is security preventing one account from touching another account, you don’t have control over the server.

The Upside

In many cases, you don’t have to bear the cost of acquiring and maintaining hardware as your data needs grow. Cloud solutions allow businesses to save on the upfront costs of hardware. That is if you contract to use the data center’s equipment and not bring your own hardware to the data center.

If you’re deploying a cloud solution as a disaster recovery mechanism, you’re still saving since most services bill you upon retrieval and only a small fee for the storage space itself.

Scalability is another aspect of cloud storage that makes it preferable to conventional on-premise storage, as increasing capacity is simply a matter of logging into your dashboard and allocating more of a particular service to yourself. Since your data is being stored off-site, you’re also free from dealing with maintenance or physical wear and tear, and you don’t have to worry as much about things like natural disasters.

Critically, in a remote work environment, you ensure cost-effective, around-the-clock accessibility to your data for all your employees regardless of where they are, as long as they have an Internet connection.

The Downside

Public cloud services might not be feasible for businesses dealing with stringent compliance guidelines from a security perspective. The switch to private cloud fixes these issues and allows for a more secure environment. However, it also makes for a costlier alternative since private cloud solutions are more expensive because they either include a managed services option that places the responsibility of managing your cloud solution on the cloud solution provider OR you’ll need to allocate time of one of your staff to oversee and manage your cloud solution.

Local Storage

Local storage is the conventional option small businesses may choose when setting up shop. You house your application and data in physical servers on your premises.

The Upside

The two main advantages of local storage are speed and “perceived comfort”. Since all your data is held on-site, this makes for quick retrieval and doesn’t require you to be connected to the Internet. This also means you have effectively no latency when accessing your applications and data.

The Downside

The uptime of the servers becomes your responsibility 24/7. If there is an issue at 1:00am, guess who is responsible for resolving that issue? While you can certainly access your servers from anywhere, it takes some set-up and maintenance of the same. You’ll need to set-up and maintain a VPN accessible via the Internet.

Local storage also makes it expensive to scale since you have to add hardware as your data needs grow, which takes up physical space and costs money.

You will also have to maintain your servers and budget for periodic replacement of the same.

Melding Local and Online Storage – Hybrid Solutions

A Hybrid solution allows you to manage trade-offs between local and cloud storage as defined by your business needs. You can house your sensitive data in-house or even on-site while making the rest available to your employees (and anyone else) via a public cloud-based implementation.

Hybrid implementations almost always require you to hire a professional to manage your cloud solution daily, but this can be a minimal cost compared to the benefits it provides. You can even mix and match features of both private and public cloud systems to implement a hybrid cloud solution.

The Upside

For one, there’s flexibility. You can delegate your disaster-recovery duties to your cloud-service provider while still enjoying the security that having all of your sensitive data housed locally affords you.

With effective management, you can counter practically all trade-offs between local and cloud storage to arrive at a system that is ideal given your business needs.

But there is a catch.

Is your data really more secure on-premise? The answer is simply “yes” if you never connect your server to the Internet and have them housed in Halon protected fire-proof environments and have biometric access to that environment. Now how practical is that? I have never seen that set-up in organizations with revenue less than $400 million.

The Downside

Well, your foremost issue is compliance and data governance. While working with both cloud and local storage, you’ll have to maintain different file systems and manage the potential nuances of syncing your data so it is consistent across data storage solutions. This can be quite complicated and tedious, especially when working with large volumes of data. This almost always requires a cloud administrator to help oversee everything.

Figuring out which approach is best for your organization is a case-specific decision. Fortunately for your business, it’s exactly this decision that Results Technology Group can help you determine.

To talk more about your application and data storage needs and any other technology-related topics, schedule a free 30-minute technology discussion.

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