Cloud Storage - Is it a Good Idea?

With recent advances in cloud technology, IT Managers have been curious as to why they should maintain their data on-site when they have the option to move to a cloud, or hosted solution. Many concerns are around the areas of security, latency, and of course, cost. There are many reasons to move workloads or data to the cloud, but there are also many reasons to select an On Premise solution.

First, let’s look at security as the mightiest concern. When moving data off-site to a cloud or hosted provider, the first question is security. What layers of security are provided from the Cloud or MSP in question? Depending on the sensitivity of the data, different requirements are formed and compliance must be adhered to, especially if the data and strategy is subject to audit.

Once the security is established, human error becomes another concern. It seems that every few weeks another organization’s data is “breached” because of simple human error. Even if every security precaution is taken, a single keystroke or a missed check box, can spell disaster for secure data.

Another concern is latency from the cloud. Any local host with storage should be seeing latencies ranging from microseconds to milliseconds depending on the type of backend storage. When moving data to the cloud, products like EC2 provide a type of hyper-converge approach. Normally, we would never recommend connecting to cloud as primary storage from a local host, as there would definitely be round trip time latency and costs associated with put and get requests, which leads to a poor design choice. Utilizing the cloud as an off-site backup repository could make sense, but depending on the sensitivity of the data, a lower cost storage array utilized solely for backup may be a better and more budget friendly approach.

Speaking of budget and cost, this is often the defining measure of success for any organization. If cost wasn’t a factor, everyone would have the latest and greatest servers, switches, 40Gb network, Flash Storage, VDI, HA setup in primary, hot failover sites, and cloud services wouldn’t be needed. Instead, some functionality and specialization makes the cloud appealing to clients who do not have expertise in certain areas. Many times we have customers who are running low on capacity or IOPS, and need to move higher end or large workloads off their primary systems. Moving these workloads to the cloud comes at a cost, but it is less expensive than purchasing all new hardware that the current workload requires. Cloud providers also have tiers of products, very similar to server and SAN vendors. Comparing these, if you want space but not a lot of IOPS (spinning disk) you select this option, you could also choose high end (FLASH), or a middle of the road option (Hybrid).

Another aspect to look at is TCO and ROI. If on-site hardware costs $100,000 with support for 5x years, then selecting a Cloud Option that runs this similar cost plan could make sense as an option. Looking at the long term investment should point to the option that makes sense financially.

Cloud has come to be an important aspect in the IT industry. If a move to the Cloud is in the future, be sure to fully investigate everything that is needed, provided, and the cost associated to make sure there are no surprises. On-Site storage and production servers continue to be a requirement of any organization, and the density and budget friendly design coming from vendors helps administrators run multitudes of workloads.