Hosted cloud storage is becoming an increasingly popular choice for small to medium businesses as an alternative to in-house storage solutions. The benefits of cloud-based storage solutions are wide-ranging, as are the types of solutions offered in today's market. Hosted solutions can range from data storage to email archiving. With a wealth of options to choose from, it can be difficult for SMBs to make an informed decision regarding which solution is right for them. Our ultimate guide to storage solutions aims to dispel the myths and help business leaders to make informed decisions about on-premise and cloud storage.
The first step towards choosing a hosted cloud storage solution is to carry out a detailed technology assessment. Change is a fundamental characteristic of small to medium businesses, and even the most detailed analysis can become out of date a few years after a solution is implemented. For that reason, working with a skilled IT company to create a flexible package that is scalable can be just as important as finding one that meets all of your current needs. Start with solutions that offer easy and straightforward expansion of capacity. Scale-out systems also add additional nodes once a performance or threshold capacity has been reached.
One of the most attractive benefits of cloud-based storage solutions is the opportunity to free up capital funds (not to be confused with operational). Generally, hosted cloud services are charged on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis, and can be attributed to operational expenditure rather than capital expenditure, freeing up valuable funds to be spent on core business functions. However, it is important to note that fluctuations in volume and traffic can make it difficult to accurately forecast these costs.
Although hosted cloud solutions offer many benefits, they do suffer from some performance issues, and can cause user pain. The low-latency data access offered by local storage devices is still not achievable by cloud storage solutions. This is unlikely to cause a problem for most backup and archiving services, such as email archiving, but when used for primary storage this can cause issues with data consistency.
Service Level Agreements
When selecting a storage solution it is important to understand all of the terms and conditions, especially with regards to service outages, data loss and IT support. It is sensible to consider spreading storage over multiple hosted cloud solutions to avoid being over dependent on a single supplier. Similarly, if a service outage at a certain time is likely to have a major impact on your business, consider having a backup option in place.
It is crucial to most organizations that data be held securely, especially when it is stored externally in a hosted cloud. Data assets must be protected from unauthorized access, and customer data must be held securely to avoid regulatory and compliance penalties. When assessing storage solutions, businesses should ensure that their provider uses encryption and secure protocols when transmitting data.
If chosen carefully, hosted cloud storage solutions can provide a range of benefits to SMBs, including flexible solutions and potentially reduced costs. To learn more about cloud solutions, read our whitepaper.