If you haven’t already considered migrating your data storage to the cloud, you are probably in the minority of businesses. While it may seem intuitive that somehow your data is safer if it is stored “ at home,” on location at the site of your business, that probably is not correct. Given the ability of skilled cloud service providers to provide redundancy and a level of security unattainable by a small business, storing all your crucial business data on site using in-house support is probably akin to keeping your money under the mattress instead of a bank.
In this blog, we’ll explain what cloud data storage means, and some reasons why it may be a good business decision. In addition, we’ll quickly note some reasons some people get nervous about the security of cloud storage.
What is cloud data storage?
In an earlier time, a business would store all of its data on-site. Individual employees might keep all of their Word and Excel documents filed on their PC. The business might store all of its customer data, financial and accounting information, clients lists, etc., on individual “secure” PCs and then back up to a server located in the equipment room. In this scenario, there are several concerns-
- Individual PCs may fail, losing all the data stored there.
- Backups generally only happen periodically, thus anything created between backups when something goes wrong is…lost
- Backups can fail
- Backups require labor from an IT individual
- Backups on a server in the equipment room 100 feet from the rest of the office isn’t a secure storage site in case there is an-on location disaster. Fire, flood, etc.
- All of that data is vulnerable to cyber attacks and in-house IT professionals probably don’t have the resources necessary to provide the most up-to-date tools to defend against cyber crime
- All of that back up infrastructure is expensive.
- All of the labor necessary to support it is expensive.
The cloud functions as your off-site storage location where you get some particular benefits.
Cloud providers can generally provide the latest, most secure storage available. They also don’t store it on one machine in one location. Top cloud providers offer redundancy not only on one storage site; your data will be mirrored in a geographically diverse location. A complete natural disaster affecting one server farm will be irrelevant to the safety of your data. Other copies may be across the continent.
So let’s get to specifics.
- The Cloud offers economies of scale – If you want to store and protect your own data, you need to purchase all of the hardware and software, all of the servers and backup servers, the uninterruptible power supply in case of a power outage, and hire 24/7 support. In the cloud model, you share all of those expensive fixed costs with hundreds and thousands of other users.
- Focus on your business – As a smaller business, you may not have the technical expertise to manage a staff of IT specialists. More importantly, do you have the time to focus your energies on managing IT? You have the job of running your business and bringing in revenues.
- Scalability – Does your business peak in summer and winter? To handle your storage needs you need to ramp up hardware bandwidth, labor etc, to meet peak demands. The rest of the year, that equipment may lie fallow. This creates high fixed costs that businesses, especially smaller ones, may not have the ready capital to build out. Cloud providers generally permit you to ramp usage up and down as needed. They have the available resources.