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Cloud Storage

Introduction

Business enterprises are driving towards less cost, increased agility, availability, managed risk – all of which are accelerated towards the concept of cloud computing. Cloud is not a specific product, but it is a mechanism of delivering information technology services that can be consumed by business enterprise on demand, elastic to scale down and up as required and follow a pay-for-usage model. Cloud computing involves three service models out of which Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a form of service model providing computing power, servers, network bandwidth as well as Storage capacity in form of a service to their subscribers. Cloud can be associated to several things but without the basic storage pieces provided as a service known as Cloud Storage, none of the other applications is possible. The paper provides a discussion on Cloud Storage, covering the key concepts and technologies in Cloud Storage and cloud computing, different types of cloud services, examples of popular cloud services providers, management insights in regard to cloud computing, the driving forces of cloud computing as well as cloud storage, and advantages and challenges of cloud storage.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is a service whereby data is maintained, managed, and backed up remotely. The service is made available to the users over a network which is commonly through the Internet. Cloud storage enables users to store files online so that they can be able to access them from any location through the internet. There are various companies offering cloud storage services such as Google, and Amazon. These provider companies makes the cloud services available to online users for purposes of ease and convenience but the service can potentially be costly. In addition, users of cloud storage services should be aware that a backup data is needed when using the service due to the fact that data recovery from cloud storage is much slower as compared to local backup.

Types of cloud storage

There are three types of cloud storage which management can choose from:
  1. Public cloud storage – it is best utilized for unstructured data. It is a domain where the public Internet can be used to access the cloud services. Some popular examples of public cloud storage service providers include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web services such as EC2, Saleforce.com, Google App Engine and Google search.
  2. Private cloud – it is used by users who require more customization as well as more control over their data. It is based upon a pool of shared resources with the access to the pool of resources limited within the boundaries of the organization. Accessing the resources is through a private as well as secured intranet such as a SSL VPN and they are owned and also under the control of the company’s information technology organization.
  3. Hybrid cloud – it combines the features of a public and private cloud for users that need services of both types of cloud services. A Hybrid cloud simply combines the services from each domain in an integrated fashion and includes an extended relationship with the selected external service providers.

How cloud storage works

At its simplest level, cloud storage can involve a single user with access to a single server. A user would upload their data through the use of a terminal and store on a server in order to keep it safe. In a situation where the server is malfunctioning, it would be impossible to retrieve the data files until the server is back online. From a standpoint of a consumer, the system could be considered to be highly ineffective as it would be unreliable and users won’t be able to accept an unreliable product in the marketplace. In order to make sure that the cloud storage idea is a feasible business, the simplest level involving cloud computing would have to be expanded significantly in order to address the issue of reliability.

Cloud storage can be achieved through following the concepts of repetition and redundancy. It would be impossible for cloud storage to exist without the concepts. As shown in the above diagram, the core cloud storage is redundancy. The basic level of cloud storage is data backup activities for the purpose of enhancing data availability. The availability of many data servers for storing data decreases the likelihood of data getting lost. Having a single data server for the purpose of storing data is a good idea, however, having ten data servers can be a lot better.

Benefits to cloud storage

The benefits of cloud storage include low cost, data recovery, ease of access, and flexibility. Many users can see the benefits. Apple is one of the best and popular companies around the globe. Apple embraces innovation and through that, the company came up with the cloud storage concept of iCloud. iCloud offers apple users with a great and efficient solution to for storing data as well as sharing data across several Apple products. Devices can be added unto the iCloud and data can be accessed by using any of the Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad, and PC etc. Larger companies can enjoy the benefits of cloud storage by saving information technology costs. This is because, cloud storage offers automatic backup, enhanced and continuous security and protection of confidential data and information, ease of access of data from any location and any time, scalability, and reduced costs of ownership. As mentioned earlier, cloud storage offers automatic backup of data. In essence, business enterprise data is sent to the cloud storage for back up, and consequently, eliminating the necessity of saving data in CD, servers, and external hard drives. The second benefit is that cloud storage offers increased security and protection for data against loss through natural disasters and theft. Loss of data can result in a comprising situation where very confidential information owned by the company is exposed resulting in potential losses to the company. For instance, loss of customer information and details by a company can be very disastrous through destruction of the company’s reputation. Natural disasters can be the case when the business enterprise is out of power for a long period hence inconveniencing its business delivery. Cloud storage offers a perfect solution for the problem by ensuring that their data is kept safe and also secure in cloud regardless of the destruction or physical damage of the business premises. Cloud storage also offers scalability, which is the ability for expanding the cloud storage for the purpose of meeting the future demands of the business. With cloud, the business organization is able to increase users without the need to increase their cost for storing data. Users will need to store more data as the company grows and more servers are required, more power consumption for keeping the servers cool. Using the cloud, costs are reduced for management and maintenance of the servers and there is no need to add or change the infrastructure.

Challenges in cloud storage/computing

When it comes to cloud storage, specific concerns arise in relation to its use in large business enterprise especially those involving secure and confidential transactions. The concerns include security, integrity of accessing remote data, data privacy, and computations. Cloud storage involves several companies handing over their data to external organization for storage, fearing that the data may be compromised. Since the number one priority for organizations to keep the data secure while at the same time making it easily accessible, cloud storage essentially requires careful look and understanding of data privacy. One of the main reasons as to why organizations avoid cloud storage is security. Adopting cloud storage implies that an organization has to rely on the security features provided by the cloud service provider to guarantee secure access of information. Organizations may be required to give up some control of their data which can lead to organizations receiving the cost of economies that can be accessed.

Cloud computing depends of the ability of the service provider to ensure that the cloud storage infrastructure is secured and the applications and data is well protected. Furthermore, the end users should ensure that the cloud provider has employed the most effective security mechanisms for protecting the data and information stored in the cloud. Through the perspective of information and data security, cloud storage and computing poses a serious challenge in security threats for various reasons.

Cloud storage is not a only a third party data warehouse but rather, the data stored in the cloud is frequently accessed by users and is updated through insertion, deletion, modifications, or appending. For the purpose of ensuring correctness and accuracy of information stored, data is updated dynamically and the information stored is also secured. However, this form of feature can the integrity of the company to be ineffective and could result in demanding of new solutions. In common cases, deployment of cloud computing is driven by the need of having many data applications running at the same time, distributed and cooperated in a simultaneous manner. The cloud storage offers redundancy and it is still in the process of improving the reliability of the cloud computing infrastructure.

Pricing

During the past few years, cloud storage has become overwhelmingly popular and is considered a must have technology in the information technology world. Several companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft are also making cloud storage services available for their customers and their businesses. However, every product offered is designed to suit the business needs of a customer. The information technology individual considers the use of cloud storage after assessing the company capabilities especially in terms of financing the requirements. Several companies may realize that cloud computing services offers significant less costs if they employ the required technology onsite as well as consequently hiring the staff for maintaining it (Cloud Storage Providers). However, after a company has made a decision to purchase cloud storage, the next step is researching about the performance of the service providers. The following table offers a comparison summary of major cloud storage providers.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, even though cloud storage can have a number of challenges to an organization, many organizations believe that the benefits derived from its implementation and use far outweighs the risks and the challenges. The cost of savings, security, disaster-recovery, as well as accessibility is only few of the intriguing benefits to business enterprises. Cloud storage can help reduction of information technology costs, simplify information technology management, enable employees to work and also collaborate from remote and distant locations, and enhance user experience. As a result, cloud computing helps in simplification of data and information sharing, collaboration among staff and easing information technology logistics as a whole. This will significantly alter the future of work environment.

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